A former associate of Chris Avellone has provided audio suggesting Karissa Barrows was on good terms with him; despite taking place months after an alleged sexual assault.
As previously reported, Barrows (along with supporting claims by Kelly Bristol) accused Avellone of getting her “blackout drunk” at Dragon Con 2012. Avellone then allegedly took her back to her room and “pounced on her” in front of other men. One of these men allegedly told Barrows what had occurred the next morning, as she had no memory of the event.
Barrows also accused Avellone of being emotionally manipulative and abusive towards his then girlfriend Jackie (a friend of Barrows), being predatory to other women, and approaching women “whom looked FAR younger than me in my late 20s (at the time, and I have always looked young for my age).”
While “still in denial” about what happened, her “breaking point” came after an alleged “explosive” argument in the restaurant with Jackie while heavily drunk “as always;” leaving her alone in a major city while she went looking for him. Bristol had accused Avellone of repeatedly groping her buttocks at a convention despite her refusal, while his girlfriend was not looking.
Two then-current employers, Techland with Dying Light 2, and Gato Studios with The Waylanders announced they were no longer working with Avellone. Paradox Interactive told GameSpot that he had briefly worked on the writing team for Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 early in development, and “through an iterative creative process, however, none of his contributions remain in the game.”
Despite giving public apologies at the time, Avellone later issued a public statement denying the allegations. He believed the allegations were “triggered” after Avellone appeared in an video interview with IGN; the first published as a Twitter reply to IGN’s tweet. He further states that very few press reached out to him, nor did research that would have proven the claims as false.
Avellone claims that he and Barrows made out “enthusiastically” in front of her door (which she reciprocated to), and continued to meet at conventions for over a year and a half. During that time, Barrows encouraged him to hit on her friend Jackie, and asked Avellone for help with “interviews for her friends and networking favors for her.”
During his own investigation (and the motivation for Avellone refuting the claims), Avellone discovered Barrows had deleted tweets where she described him in a positive light, and even friendship.
These included a photo the day after the alleged incident, with Barrows hugging Avellone with the caption “One of the few gentlemen left in the world (that still drink).” There is also another photo of the two on good terms allegedly from PAX East 2013.
In deleted 2014 tweet [1, 2] (prior to Avellone’s relationship with Jackie) Barrows states surprise that she had not experienced any abuse or harassment as a female gamer and cosplayer; when such incidents seemed to be “rampant.”
“I’m always taken a little aback when my fellow fem gamers/nerds have story after story of abuse/harassment,” Barrows tweeted, “because I just DON’T have my own.” Barrows even notes “And, strangely enough, when it does, it’s USUALLY another woman.”
Avellone issued a libel lawsuit against Barrows and Bristol for accusations, and 100 “Jane Does” of six counts of libel. Avellone’s lawyers are asking for “prayers for relief” including general, special, punitive, and emotional distress damages, costs of the suit, and equitable relief in the form of a positive injunction.
Later, Red-i Creative Studio owner Jeff Johnson has release his own statement to defend Avellone. While he was in contact with Barrows and Avellone, he claims Barrows never had anything negative to say about Avellone.
In private messages, just over two weeks after the alleged incident should have taken place, Barrows uses Johnson’s description of Avellone as a “con-boyfriend,” and describes him in complimentary terms. Johnson proposes Barrows was “clearly” seeking a relationship with Avellone.
Along with highlighting a podcast featuring both Barrows and Avellone, Johnson stated he would release additional unreleased audio clips from the podcast, that took place November 23rd, 2012- three months after the alleged incident. You can find that video below.
Johnson proposes “What does it sound like to you?” If genuine, the audio features Barrows in seemingly high spirits. She also jokes back with Avellone about being paid back with alcohol.
Avellone: Eight bucks would be easier to pay you back with alcohol
Barrows: Let’s discuss how much you’ve already paid me back with alcohol, OK?
Avellone: That was all in the interest of creating beautiful memories!
Barrows: YES! … Achievement Unlocked!
Barrows also describes Avellone as a “wonderful creature,” and “you’re pretty awesome.” She also encourages other male guests to go drinking with Avellone when they are in his home state (joking about them making out) and states “this is why I need to move to California.”
Some comments to the video note that it would seem out of character for someone who had suffered abuse to be so jovial around her alleged abuser. Some go as far as to claim Barrows is flirting with Avellone in the audio.
It could also be considered strange that Avellone and Barrows’ joke about being paid back with alcohol and “creating beautiful memories” without being traumatic to Barrows; or at least prompt her to re-examine what occurred in a new light.
In addition, Barrows seems to keen to go drinking with Avellone again, and openly discusses her alcohol preferences. “2 drinks made with Tequila and I’m gone!” She also explains she had no more than two drinks before she went to karaoke at DragonCon 2012, where she continued to drink until she could not hear herself singing karaoke.
If all the above audio and private messages previously revealed are genuine; Barrows would need to have been “still in denial” since Dragon Con 2012, and least up to August 2016; when Johnson began his Marketing & Advertising job at Sunrise Motorsports in Arkansas (losing contact with Barrows and Avellone). This would also include when she tweeted in 2014 that she had not experienced any harassment.
The restaurant argument that was her “breaking point” could then have happened after August 2016, prior to the first allegation on June 17th, 2020.
Barrows stated after this was when she informed two individuals from Dragon Con about what had happened, and got Avellone blacklisted. In her initial accusations against Avellone- in a Twitter reply to the IGN interview- she notes Avellone had been “blacklisted from at least 1 big con.”
If Barrows’ 2014 tweet about not experiencing harassment was true, then this means the argument that broke her denial must have occurred after 2014; but also that Barrows gave no indication to Johnson or his colleagues about what should have been negative feelings towards Avellone from then until he lost contact in August 2016.
However, we must emphasize that if Barrows’ allegations are true, she may have not discussed what had occurred with others even after divulging what occurred to Dragon Con staff. While the public nature of her accusations would suggest she would have not hesitated to do so earlier, it may be that she believed she would not be heard until the IGN interview presented an opportunity.
Johnson’s allegation that Barrows had strong feelings for Avellone would also reframe why she was involved with his relationship with Jackie; and Avellone’s allegations she contributed to them breaking up despite the fact Jackie “indicated she still wanted to continue to see” him. Then again, both Barrows and Avellone both state that it was Barrows who encouraged Avellone to hit on Jackie.
Johnson concludes his Medium post voicing he will gladly support true victims, and denounces the gaming industry and media for treating Barrows claims as fact. He especially singles out the media as “the biggest problem here.” He also encourages others who allegedly “know the truth” about Barrows to come forward.
To Barrows herself, Johnson lays down the gauntlet, demanding she come clean about lying, all the while he and others prepare to release their own evidence.
“You know you’re not being honest. You know we’ve had MANY conversations about how you felt about Mr. Avellone. You also know I have more receipts ready to go. Finding more by the day. I’m not going to be the only one coming forward with receipts. Now’s the time to come forward and admit you lied. You owe an apology to Mr. Avellone, the media, the gaming industry, and to the people who have supported you online. They all deserve an apology.
Remember, the truth will always find you.“