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A Dragon Ball voice actor loses his appeal of his sexual harassment defamation suit

Voice actor Vic Mignogna attends the premiere of <em>Dragon Ball Super: Broly</em> in December 2018 in Hollywood, California.
Rich Fury
Getty Images for Funimation
Voice actor Vic Mignogna attends the premiere of Dragon Ball Super: Broly in December 2018 in Hollywood, California.

Voice-over actor Vic Mignogna lost his appeal in a defamation suit he filed that has put a spotlight on sexual harassment in the Japanese animation industry.

Mignogna has been a well-known English voice in anime for over two decades, starring in popular series including Fullmetal Alchemist and Dragon Ball. In 2019, his work came to a halt after a series of sexual misconduct allegations against him surfaced on the internet.

That year, Mignogna sued his former employer, two women who accused him of inappropriate behavior and the partner of one of the women. His grievances, including defamation and tortious interference, were later dismissed by a Texas judge.

Mignogna appealed the decision. But on Thursday, the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth upheld the ruling and ordered Mignogna to pay at least $250,000 in attorney fees to the four defendants — Funimation, Jamie Marchi, Monica Rial and Ron Toye. (That figure could be higher because the amount owed to Rial and Toye is being redetermined by the courts.)

On Thursday evening, Rial, a voice actor who was one of the two women sued by Mignogna, wrote on Twitter, "#Itsover."

"I wanted to thank all of you for your love and support. I have been a part of the anime community for 23 years and I love it. Here's to moving forward, healing, and celebrating anime!" she added.

Mignogna's lawyer, Ty Beard, did not respond to NPR's request for comment.

What happened

In January 2019, allegations of sexual misconduct against Mignogna came to a head following the premiere of his film Dragon Ball Super: Broly.

The voice actor quickly denied any allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault. "My heart weeps for anyone who endures a violation of this kind, so to be accused of harming others in this way....I have no words," he posted on Twitter.

But by the following month, Rooster Teeth, a production company, cut ties with Mignogna and removed him from the cast of RWBY, an anime-style web show. Funimation, an entertainment company, also conducted an internal investigation and fired Mignogna by early February 2019. Several anime conventions also canceled Mignogna's appearances.

Around the same time, Marchi and Rial, prominent voice actors, came forward separately about disturbing experiences with Mignogna. Both of them said they felt compelled to speak up after learning they were not the only ones.

"My experience is minor in comparison to many others; however, having realized this wasn't an isolated incident, I felt compelled to share," Marchi wroteon Twitter in February 2019.

Amid a three-year legal battle, Mignogna has slowly returned to the industry. Last year, he and Anime Matsuri, a convention held in Houston, partnered to open a dubbing studio. The announcement received some backlash, but the voice actor continues to have a staunch fan following.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.