Archie co-CEO accuses company of smear campaign

Archie Comics Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit claims the company's lawsuit against her is merely "a thinly veneered attempt to smear my name and gain complete corporate control" for her counterpart Jon Goldwater.

The lawsuit, filed early last month, accuses Silberkleit of bullying and sexually harassing employees, and sought to bar her from the publisher's Mamaroneck, N.Y., headquarters and from representing the company at Comic-Con International. A judge allowed her to return to work and attend the San Diego convention, but she's not permitted to talk to vendors.

According to Archie, Silberklet's "offensive" behavior dates back to 2009, when she stepped into the co-CEO role following the death of her husband Michael Silberkleit, son of co-founder Louis Silberkleit. In one incident, she allegedly interrupted a meeting and pointed to each of the four men in the room, shouting "PENIS, PENIS, PENIS, PENIS." In another, she reportedly complained that her "balls hurt." Another employee asserts he heard Silberkleit say, "All you penises think you can run me out."

The company contends it hired an outside firm to investigate employee allegations of Silberkleit's actions, and was advised to cut ties with her.

However, The Journal News reports that Silberkleit denies the allegations and claims that Goldwater, son of Archie Comics co-founder John L. Goldwater, is a chauvinist who's attempting to drive her out of the company.

"He has called me 'stupid,' a 'moron,' and 'despicable,'" the former art teacher said in an affidavit filed last week. "In the presence of others he has told me to 'shut up' and 'why can't you be sweet, nice and quiet like a lady?' "

She accuses Goldwater of making corporate decisions without her, canceling a children's literacy tour without telling her, and turning employees against her. "Mr. Goldwater long ago and repeatedly has told some employees and also people within the industry that he would get rid of me one way or the other," Silberkleit wrote.

Her attorney has filed a motion to dismiss the company's lawsuit. A hearing is set for Aug. 16 in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan.

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