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The prominent photo editor Patrick Witty was publicly accused of sexual misconduct on 29 January, in a report published on Vox.com by the journalist AJ Chavar. In his report, Chavar stated that Witty, who has worked at National Geographic, Time, Wired, and the New York Times, was investigated for sexual misconduct by National Geographic last Autumn; Chavar’s story added testimonies by women photographers, some anonymous but two named. In response, Witty has released this statement to the media, via his lawyer Stephen B Pershing.

“I’m deeply sorry that some of my past behavior has been hurtful to women.

“I was raised by six powerful women – five older sisters and my mother, now 86 – who taught me to respect women and to fight for women. I’ve advocated and championed women’s advancement as photographers and editors my entire career.

“With firm conviction, I deny that I’ve ever engaged in any behavior that amounts to sexual aggression. I also strongly deny ever insinuating that I would give someone professional help – or withhold it – on condition of sexual favors or romantic interest. I’ve never been accused of wrongdoing of any kind in the workplace, so I was shocked and dismayed when I first learned of the accusations against me.

“But I’ve also come to realize that my perception of a situation and someone else’s may not always align. In many otherwise innocent interactions I may have underestimated the power of my position. What I’m hearing makes me think about the impact of my behavior on others in a whole new way, as it should. I am saddened to think that I in any way have contributed to or reinforced the imbalance of power between men and women in my industry.

“We as a society are in the midst of a stark and imperative reckoning – long overdue – about the reprehensible ways men have behaved toward women all across our culture, as well as in particular industries like photojournalism, to which I have devoted my heart and soul for the past 25 years. This new dialogue is enlightening to me, as a man undergoing a much-needed awakening, and as a father who wants to do better by his own son in the hope that he’ll know, and help to shape, a culture of respect and equality for all. I wholeheartedly embrace and support this movement.”

Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy

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