Film Sites React to Contributor’s Sex Crime Admission

Gabriel Toro was a regular contributor to The Playlist, Den of Geek and Cinema Blend.

It’s been an unusual and most unwelcome dilemma for The Playlist, Den of Geek, Cinema Blend and CHUD. How to react to the downfall of regular contributor Gabriel Toro, who earlier this month pled guilty in a New Jersey courtroom to one count of online enticement of a minor. Sentencing is scheduled for June 25.

Den of Geek quickly decided to remove all of Toro’s posts. Taking a more measured and delayed approach was The Playlist. From Rodrigo Perez’s March 30 item, “An Overdue Statement:”

After careful consideration we have elected not to remove his historical contributions from the site, however, as to do so would feel like an attempt to deny acknowledging that his work ever appeared here.

On a personal note, I would like to apologize for the lateness of this statement. I have been struggling to form a cogent response, and the failure to do so sooner is my own fault, and should not reflect on the Playlist team.

On the same day that Den of Geek was sharing its course of action (March 24), CHUD founder Nick Nunziata posted the most damning statement of all. Under the headline “If There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: A Cautionary Tale,” he included some heartfelt self-examination:

The sad fact is that Gabriel Toro had a reputation on our message boards for many years as a person who should be on some sort of watchlist for the exact kind of behavior which probably ruined the life of an innocent girl. It’s foolhardy to point a finger at ourselves, especially considering how different the Internet has gotten even in the last few years. Long after Gabriel/Fabfunk was a fixture here. It’s stupid to point fingers, but it’s also stupid to ignore that what we did was simply not enough. We made jokes. We banned him from the site. We made light of it. As the site runner, I accepted the page views and moved on with my day. He became a punchline here but it cost us nothing and it did nothing other than amuse us.

Years later, as his career as an online critic grew so too did his access, resources and whatever psychological impulses he’d kept at bay. Eventually (hopefully only this one time) he took action on those impulses and someone suffered. It’s not our responsibility but in all honesty we saw it coming and even joked about it, so maybe it’s time this amazing technological advance that allows us to communicate in a way never seen before can be used as a means to prevent this kind of real-world horror from happening.

FishbowlNY was reminded, while writing this post, of Robert Sanchez, founder of IESB.net. In 2010, the Web journalist denied accusations that he had molested his stepdaughter.