Content material warning: This text discusses rape and might not be appropriate for all readers.
An allegation of rape by a well known male American birder has shocked the birding world and has led to his elimination or resignation from outstanding positions.
The revelation occurred on Monday, February 15, when Aisha White, an Atlanta birder, posted an in depth story on her weblog, which she shared on Twitter, accusing Jason Ward of raping her whereas the 2 have been birding collectively on November 27, 2020, in an Atlanta-area park. Ward was the host of the favored YouTube collection “Birds of North America,” was an organizer of final yr’s Black Birders Week, and simply this month had been featured in a Nissan business.
White, a digital marketer and part-time freelance author, wrote that she and Ward met in early October, when she joined a birding discipline journey he led. He quickly contacted her by way of social media, they usually began going birding collectively.
Ultimately, the 2 have been courting, however on the finish of an all-day birding outing in late November, White alleges that Ward pressured himself on her in opposition to her will. A day or two after the incident, she ended their relationship.
White’s weblog publish didn’t identify Ward, however she wrote that her attacker was “an authority in areas of variety and inclusion,” and that he hosted a birding present that “takes him to areas across the nation.” Birders on Twitter rapidly deduced that Ward was the person in query, and White later confirmed that by naming him in a tweet.
White declined to remark for this text. Ward has not responded to a request for remark.
On Tuesday of this week, White established a GoFundMe web page to hunt funds for a potential authorized case in opposition to Ward. Greater than $32,600 has been donated to date.
A swift deplatforming
On Tuesday, Ward resigned from his position as chief variety officer at American Hen Conservancy, a job he began in November. The Nationwide Audubon Society, Ward’s earlier employer, posted a assertion that reads partially: “Throughout his tenure at Audubon, which led to January 2020, we had no data of any inappropriate—a lot much less prison—conduct or we’d have taken motion immediately. Based mostly on the weblog publish, we have now ended our relationship with him instantly and completely.”
Nissan eliminated the business that featured Ward, the manufacturing firm Matter Studios eliminated “Birds of North America” from all of its platforms, and the American Birding Affiliation took episodes of its podcast offline that featured Ward as a visitor. Georgia Audubon, which Ward was main the sector journey for on the day he and White met, ended its contract with him for main discipline journeys and later stated that it was “pausing all volunteer- and contractor-led actions, together with discipline journeys in order that we might conduct a radical analysis of our procedures and protocols.” And BlackAFinSTEM, the group that organized Black Birders Week, eliminated Ward from the group.
As well as, a number of birders, birding golf equipment, and organizations posted statements supporting White.
The unique model of this text included different allegations. BirdWatching has eliminated them from this story.