This article is the third in a series of investigations involving #MagicGate. Please read:
Magic: The Gathering (MTG) is the world’s most popular fantasy-themed card game. There are an estimated 20 million players, of all ages, around the planet. MTG is played both with cards and online. Wizards of the Coast (WotC), the publisher of MTG, generates $100s of millions a year. They are owned by HASBRO which is a multi-billion dollar corporation.
The executives of both WotC and HASBRO have been negligent in protecting their community, and particularly children, from men convicted of pedophilia-related crimes as well as other non-sexual related offenses. By failing to set, and ambivalently enforce, common sense protection policies WotC and HASBRO executives have greatly contributed to the climate of complacency which now plagues the MTG community.
During live MTG tournaments, where the winners are awarded thousands of dollars, inevitable disagreements arise. To ensure fair play volunteer members of the MTG judge program preside over various disputes and conundrums which arise during tournament play. In their capacity as arbiters judges have access to, and authority over, all tournament players regardless of the player’s age.
Pedophilic criminals can access children during MTG tournaments to satisfy their depraved sexual appetites. Similar stalking techniques are used in parks by pedophiles, but in tournaments, they are able to conceal their purposes out in the open. A variety of instances show pedophiles have joined the judge program as well. WotC does not have policies in place to prevent individuals with criminal histories from playing in tournaments or joining the judge program. Over the years WotC has ignored all demands for a new preventative policy because their current policy is working just fine, or so they say.
In a move which reeked of desperation WotC’s Vice President of Global Brand Strategy and Marketing, Elaine Chase, attempted to clarify the company’s position. It seemed Chase intended to perform preemptive damage control with her five poorly crafted and clearly rushed nonsensical tweets. The response she received was not one of a pacified public. The stunt, as detailed below, rightfully blew up in her face.
Recently, misinformation circulated on social media regarding Wizards’ policies, event staffing, and Magic judges. #WOTCstaff 1/5
— Elaine Chase (@ElaineChase) January 2, 2018
Safety at Magic events is our top priority. We have a zero-tolerance policy for sex offenders. Our standard and long-standing practice is to suspend offenders from the DCI and/or remove stores from the WPN. #WOTCstaff 2/5
— Elaine Chase (@ElaineChase) January 2, 2018
If one were inclined to blow the dust off of aged history books dating to 2015 they’d find WotC’s definition of “zero-tolerance” has many meanings. For example, convicted rapist Zachary Jesse’s criminal history became public fodder on May 10, 2015 after placing in the top-eight during a high profile tournament. Rather than ban him immediately, WotC took nearly two months to make a decision. On July 1, 2015, 51 days after the fact, Jesse’s banning was declared not with a megaphone but, in an effort to save face, a whimper. WotC marched out their corporate stooge Patrick R. Jarrett, the editor-in-chief of DailyMTG.com, to break the news on Reddit. Jarret’s post read:
We work hard to make sure all players feel welcomed, included and safe at our events so that they can have fun playing Magic. We don’t generally comment on individuals or provide position statements in the abstract, but we take action to address player issues and community concerns when we feel it is necessary.
There are two points to be made. First, note Jarret’s tiny statement as opposed to officially detailing the entire scenario. Jarret could have recounted Jesse’s rape of a 19-year-old unconscious college student he did not know. It would have required him to methodically review how Jesse bent the woman over her own toilet and viciously penetrated her vaginally and anally. Heroically honest descriptions are against the WotC’s best public relations interest. They would not want the public wondering why 51 days passed before a decision was made.
Secondly, Jarrett’s statement is contradictory to Chase’s statement. WotC’s policy cannot be, as Chase claims, “zero-tolerance” and simultaneously enforced “when we feel it is necessary” as stated by Jarrett. Which is it? “Zero-tolerance” means zero-tolerance for any iteration of what is not tolerated. Otherwise, the policy is “some tolerance”, or more aptly, “Whenever we feel like it-olerance.”
Further, Chase’s claim of a “long-standing” policy could not possibly be true as the statements are in conflict with one another. This is particularly evident when one considers Jarret’s post came 30 months before the “long-standing” lie Chase disastrously attempted to pass off as fact. Although, perhaps Elaine Chase isn’t a liar and she uses the opposite definition of “long-standing” just as she does for the definition of “competent” as it relates to her job performance.
These conclusions generate further questions. What, precisely, is WotC’s official stance on sex offenders? Why did Elaine Chase cite this “zero-tolerance” policy so matter-of-factly and not provide any documentation? She could have prevented any confusion by including a link in her tweet-bomb. She didn’t, however, which I am sure was a mere oversight on her part. Chase is terribly busy drafting her next Twitter marketing campaign and who could blame her considering the success of her first.
For the policy to be official it must be published in the rules somewhere. That’s common sense. Chase obviously has the entirety of every rule related to MTG memorized, so she doesn’t need to cite her sources. We’re not nearly as brilliant, or as busy, as she so we will have to find it for ourselves to scratch this itch. (tl;dr? scroll past for conclusion)
The place to begin should be the official WotC sanctioned MTG “Rules and Documents” page.
The Magic: The Gathering Basic Rulebook says nothing about sex offenders or really anything about conduct at all. It does recommend to “get a friend” which are wise, but harsh, words.
The Casual Play guide gives tips on preparing vegan food, but nothing about sex offenders.
The Premier-Level Tournament Information guide bans certain clothing, but not sex offenders.
The Magic: The Gathering Judging at Regular REL (updated 10-14) Player are removed from the building if they are aggressive, violent, harassing, or abusive. Cheating, wagering or stealing cards are also bannable. Nothing about sex offenders.
The Magic Infraction Procedure Guide (updated 9-17) is for high-level tournaments. The rules do not change regarding theft, wagering, harassment, etc. There is nothing mentioned about sex offenders, but there are curious aspects. A player must “show remorse” to avoid a penalty, but does not specify how. Apologizing? On their hands and knees? Begging? Flowers? Candy?
The Magic Tournament Rules (updated 11-14) surely this 52-page tomb will contain something about a sex offender ban. Right?….
Rule 1.4 on page 5 says anyone can participate EXCEPT FOR:
People with a banned DCI number, under age 13 without a parent, if one is prohibited by law, tournament organizer “Other individuals specifically prohibited from participation by DCI or Wizards of the Coast policy.”
What does that mean? If they are specifically prohibited, list them with specificity! The rule continues, “such determination is at Wizards of the Coast’s sole discretion.” Sole discretion is not “zero-tolerance” and implies tolerance is possible. Nothing about sex offenders. There is no such list of “specifically prohibited” other than the DCI which was already mentioned.
Rule 1.10 on page 6 outlines player responsibilities. Is being not a sex offender one? No. Players must be respectful, report rule breaking and not to steal or cheat. Nothing about sex offenders.
Rule 1.11 on page 7 describes spectators and does NOT ban anybody. But one must remain “silent and passive.” If one is “silent and assertive” they are removed. No mimes allowed.
Rule 5.1 – 5.6 on pages 24-25 prohibits Cheating, bribery, and wagering. Players must “be polite at all times” (hence why this game is not for me) and refrain from swearing. Making one *feel* bullied, harassed, or stalked is banned. Not actually doing those things mind you, but a player feeling such a way is a violation. There is not a single word about banning sex offenders.
Strange. Those were all of the official MTG guides. They’ve been archived here. None made reference to what Elaine Chase described in her tweet. Where else should we look? How about official WotC rules?!
WotC’s official Code of Conduct is not particularly thorough and deals more with perception than anything else. Harassment, violence, cheating, stealing, sexism, racism, homophobia, etc are prohibited. These rules also claim WotC can ban a player for things they do outside WotC’s sphere. It’s complicated and stupid. I described why previously. While many behaviors are banned, this guide says nothing about a zero tolerance policy for sex offenders.
WotC’s official Terms of Service finally answered the question. Section 2 says WotC may terminate services “anytime” for “any reason.” Ahh, there it is.
Well, there you go.
There is not a website, document, pamphlet, or a scribbled on cocktail napkin which could be produced to show the official existence of this “policy.” Because WotC does have not one. They simply believe you’re all too stupid and lazy to notice.
What WotC does have are thousands of words of rules that outline everything from being passive to vegan food and yet there is not enough space to specifically ban sex offenders. Why? Is that because a sex offender’s presence loosely violates other rules by making players uncomfortable? Is it because Elaine Chase claims this “long-standing” policy exists and WotC deserves to be trusted? I previously profiled convicted pedophile Ross Prajzner in “Magic: The Pedophile Conspiracy” and proved WotC was asleep at the wheel. All the while Elaine Chase claimed to keep a vigilant watch deflecting any blame which deservedly came her lazy way.
Prajzner is a former tournament judge and avid player of MTG who was arrested for child pornography in 2013. WotC did nothing and he continued to judge and play around children. He pleaded guilty in a courtroom in 2014 and again WotC took no action. He began his sentence in early 2015 and was released by the end of 2015. Prajzner began circulating in the MTG tournament scene again while WotC did not lift a finger.
WotC was warned for months. WotC was warned in June, July, and December of 2017 about Prajzner. In December 2017 he was removed from the judge program’s website. Big deal. He remained eligible to play tournaments despite WotC having over four years to take action. Google Cache shows as late as January 4, 2018 he was eligible. Is that a “no tolerance” policy?
Finally my article forced them to take action. Not out of concern for children, but to prevent their own embarrassment. Of which it was too late.
Clearly, the “zero-tolerance policy for sex offenders” claims were made by Elaine Chase with all the sincerity of one who cuts a person’s eyelids off only to demand their victim wink.
What about the case of former lvl 3 judge David Park? He’s a disgraced high school teacher who was convicted in December 2015 of having sex with two students over the course of several years. He judged his last MTG tournament February 22, he was arrested February 24, and WotC banned him on February 25. That certainly has the appearance of fulfilling Chase’s zero tolerance rhetoric, does it not?
Except it was in name only. If one looks into the details they will see WotC’s tolerance of convicted pedophiles is, in fact, quite high. David Park was levied a mere 5 year ban. He’d be back looking at teenage girls at MTG tournaments by 2020 and he was counting the minutes.
This ban stood from February 25, 2015 through January 4, 2018. Until I pointed out the glaring discrepancy on Twitter.
As WotC’s mouthpiece Elaine Chase chooses to be reactive rather than proactive. She has shown WotC will only be bothered to ban pedophiles from the MTG community, which thereby protects the safety of children, after they are publicly shamed into taking action. Not before.
Minutes after my post went live David Park’s ban was increased to lifetime status. Where it should have been the entire time had WotC been doing as fine a job as they claim to do.
To study how not to handle a public relations crisis all should watch Elaine Chase’s wild flailing. Chase’s inability to extinguish the flames of outrage and succeeding at fanning those flames to a roar makes me gaze in awe at her incompetence. However, Chase’s termination from WotC is all but inevitable at this point. Though one should fear not for her as she will do quite well at a new career writing short stories on the backs of crackerjack boxes.
The evidence presented below is not “misinformation” as Chase described shamelessly in her previous, and now disproved tweet. The evidence will speak for itself whether Chase wants it to or not and she will be once again left holding the bag.
Luke Sebastian Flora is an avid MTG player and high-level employee at StarCityGames.com. Flora is also a disgraced former high school Spanish teacher. He taught at Bassett High School in Bassett, Virginia beginning in at least 2005. Flora was 30-years-old when he was arrested on August 24, 2012 for 6 counts of “Taking indecent liberties with child by person in custodial or supervisory relationship.” Flora admitted to having an ongoing sexual relationship with his student between May and June of 2012. At the time of his arrest he faced 30 years in prison.
According to the various local news reports Flora did not have sex with his student on school property. The student was 17-years-old at the time. This causes some to insist the student was not a victim, but a willing participant which is nonsense. Flora abused his position of authority. While there are varying levels of culpability regarding sexual abuse Flora betrayed all who trusted him. He married his wife in 2004 and his first child was only several months old at the time of his sex crimes. Flora was officially fired by Henry County Public Schools October 4, 2012.
Flora’s six charges were combined to a single count on February 22, 2013 to which he pleaded guilty. After pleading guilty to having sex with his student and losing his job he was hired by StarCityGames.com, which is known as “The World’s Largest Magic Store”, on April 10, 2013. The timeline is curious as another infamous MTG player, lvl 3 judge Sam Straus, was arrested April 22, 2013 for soliciting sex from a 13-year-old girl online. Both were employees of StarCityGames.com at the same time.
It is clear that Flora’s conviction of having sex with a student was of no concern to StarCityGames.com. He was placed in charge of the store before had had even been sentenced.
Two months later Flora was sentenced for his sex crimes. Stunningly, the judge suspended Flora’s 5-year sentence and gave him 18 months on probation while requiring he register as a sex offender for life. The judge also ordered Flora to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation to determine his status as a sex offender. However, the evaluation was a formality as the state of Virginia requires any person convicted of Flora’s crime to automatically be designated as violent.
No information is available publicly regarding Flora’s victim as she was a minor at the time and cases involving minors are sealed from the public. However, I did speak with a source who wished to remain confidential that told me, “It wasn’t as bad as it sounded. Luke made a mistake.”
Under more limited circumstances one may find that argument persuasive, but Flora engaged in this sexual relationship over a month and had sex with his student at least six times. That would, therefore, mean he made six mistakes. Over and over and over and over and over and over again. This person also told me Flora almost lost his marriage. but that he and his wife were still married, and that he had learned his lesson. This is a point of which I beg to differ heavily.
Flora showed himself to be a person in a position of authority who, when given the right opportunity, would abuse his authority when he thought he could get away with it. He is not to be trusted around teenage women. Unless of course, one believes Flora drew his line in the sand at 17. No lower than that! Is the age of his victim why more individuals are willing to give him pass? What is the cut-off line exactly? 16? 15? 14? And therein lay the problem. All of the answers are wrong. However, years passed while Flora moved undetected in the gaming community.
Eventually, Flora was promoted. On June 27, 2017 he was named StarCityGames.com’s Customer Relations Coordinator.
Soon the convicted sex criminal began traveling around the country attending numerous gaming events. He often worked with WotC employees, which Chase apparently thinks is ok if sex criminal employees or partners are around children at MTG tournaments.
Which entirely dismantles Chase’s statement about WotC having a “zero-tolerance” policy towards convicted sex criminals. Those rules are only for people who do not make WotC money, silly! Here’s Flora creating the official MTG tournament posts on Reddit for StarCityGames.com:
Not to mention Flora has been playing MTG the entire time as well, which is in direct violation of Elaine Chase’s statement of WotC’s zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual criminals.
Want some proof? He literally won an MTG tournament less than two weeks ago.
Flora remains in his position of authority at StarCityGames.com as apparently, the organization doesn’t care a sexual predator is amongst them. WotC doesn’t care because Flora helps to make them money by working with vendors to help peddle WotC’s goods at various conventions.
WotC had made idiotically calculated decisions to ignore the realities of evil which exist in the world in pursuit of profits and dividends for HASBRO’s shareholders. It is time to say no more to the hypocrisy and greed which endangers children. One is duty bound to rebuke WotC’s cynical policies which have been tolerated for far too long.
When will Luke Flora’s DCI number be banned?