Activist Admits to Sex Crimes

Yesterday, the well-known Direct Action Everywhere organizer, Hugo Dominguez, admitted to multiple sex crimes, and the victims are all fellow activists. He manipulated, and lied to these individuals to order to steal or otherwise obtain photos that are sensitive in nature. He then shared them with others, without permission of the people in the photos.

Direct Action Everywhere has handled this horrifying breach of trust rather gracefully, and while most of the community is outraged there are victim blamers and misogynists abound. It is times like these that we within the animal rights community MUST admit that sexism runs rampant amongst activists. Ignoring the problem is not an option.

It is of vital importance that women feel safe in DxE’s community. In the past few days, we learned that there was a serious breach of trust on the part of one of our organizers, Hugo Dominguez. We take this breach very seriously and are taking all steps, guided by the women harmed, to ensure that Hugo is accountable for the harms he has caused.

On a forward-going basis, we are designating a few female members of our conflict resolution committee (Priya Sawhney and Maryam LK) to be available specifically where there is a concern over sexual harassment or misconduct. We absolutely encourage all activists in our network to reach out to these facilitators if any issues arise, and we will hold confidential any information provided to us in this regard. We will also provide resources for women who want to reach out to an outside group regarding this issue. 

In the meantime, Hugo will be stepping back from his role as an organizer for the indefinite future and will seek out resources and counseling on consent culture and sexual harassment.

Direct Action Everywhere FB post

He has issued a public “apology” on Facebook (no doubt only because he was caught, and told to do so by DxE).

Hi everyone. If we’re friends, it’s very possible you’ve heard allegations about my betrayal of women and others in the animal rights movement these past few days. It’s with much regret that I admit to those allegations. I’ve hurt, manipulated and exposed very explicit images and confidential information about female animal rights activists. I’ve broken many of the principles and values which I espouse. While claiming to stand against the exploitation of human beings as well as animals, I have betrayed the trust of many people within the community and disgracefully took advantage of my position in this movement and hurt many people. I am a hypocrite in many regards and can’t begin to image the suffering I’ve caused many women. 

I want to use this post as a platform for people to vent their feelings towards me. Any comments showing sympathy or comfort will be deleted. If you don’t feel comfortable posting your sentiments on this post, you’re free to message Priya Sawhney and she’ll pass on the message to me. I’ll be leaving this post up for 48 hours and will be deactivating my account and stepping back from activism to seek help and take the proper steps so I never hurt and exploit women again.

I’m terribly sorry to all those I’ve disappointed, to the movement, but most importantly the women I’ve hurt who will probably be scarred due to my behavior. Thank you everyone for your time.

-Hugo Dominguez

I am urging all of you to break all ties with this individual, keep the pressure on DxE to stand by their statement and make sure that they continue to address to on-going problem within their organization (I believe they will). offer nothing but support to the victims. Do not speak over them. Do not pressure them to do or say something they are not comfortable with. Do not blame them. And for fucks sake, do not identify them publicly.

The animal rights movement has a human rights problem. If people within the AR community are not treated equally, with respect and kindness, how can we help our non-human friends effectively?

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22 thoughts on “Activist Admits to Sex Crimes

  1. Thank you for NOT using this post as an opportunity to publicly bash DxE as a group. Some Abolitionist Vegans have been shamelessly opportunistic in their use of this sad and disturbing event to criticize DxE as a group, thereby detracting from the actual victims in this situation. I find this behavior despicable, though not at all surprising in light of the behavior I’ve been observing from Abolitionist Vegans in general.

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    • You are probably referring to intersectionality, but your comment fits, amusingly to many aspects of the movement. A crap ton of irrational counterproductive behavior is about the emotional issues of AR activists and not what helps the animals the most.

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      • It was a layered comment. If we would take intersectionality seriously, we would find ourselves deeply committed to personal transformation, that would, interestingly, vastly decrease the drama and emotional reactivity of many in the movement. That’s the intrinsic beauty of intersectionality. It demands personal transformation, internal monitoring, and a network of self respect, and respect for others. It is the dismantling of our egos, and it is as beautiful thing to do as anything we have ever attempted. It is what launched the vegan movement.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes I feel like the AR movement’s internal culture is so toxic I just don’t want to have anything to do with it. Anyone else ever feel that way? After reading through the 1.5k posts on the disgraced DxE organizer’s wall yesterday, I just have reached this point where I feel like I’d rather work for animals outside this environment.

    Obviously not defending what the organizer did, but the mass public shaming made me uncomfortable. Perhaps that makes me guilty of tone policing or what have you, but it was my reaction. I felt like he was being made example of for something that is unfortunately pretty common society wide.

    Identifying abusive behavior is a good thing. But I don’t think making one person the stand-in for all personifications of patriarchy is fair or helpful. What happened yesterday sort of reminded me of Orwell’s Two Minutes of Hate. But honestly I’m terrified of even continuing this conversation, because the topic so fraught it seems whenever you try to introduce any level of nuance you’re accused of being the worst sort of reactionary.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you’ve got a really good sense of the situation. I’m not sure though, that anyone is making one person stand in for all abuses patriarchy has dished out. I think what’s happening is that people are angry about a million things, and when one very obvious, very heinous wrong is uncovered, watch out. What’s happening is not very different from the spiteful, hateful rhetoric many in the AR movement level at people who are not vegan. It IS time we changed that. Most people have wild expectations of others, and dish self hate as freely as they dish anger at others, so, taking everything with a grain of salt is helpful. Anger very rarely helps a situation.
      It’s taken me awhile, but I love my AR community very much. It’s taken me 4 years to develop a community that I trust and admire. Probably only a dozen or so. I encourage you to be selective, and then be forgiving. Like attracts like. If we behave with love, respect and responsibility we are likely find more of that. Just be sure to see it when it comes to you! Good luck, and sending love. 🙂

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    • Just curious, what do you think shaming accomplishes? I ask because I don’t think it helps in the long run at all. We are trying transform ourselves into loving beings, and holding grudges, punishing, and ridiculing never helps move in that direction. Of course it feels good if it’s the only way we are certain that our wrongs have been acknowledged, but I think we can do without hurting another to accomplish that.
      I am curious, please do say why you think public shaming is a good idea. It reminds me of mild torture, and I don’t see healing coming from hurting another, no matter how awful the crime.

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    • Why are people defending him? I shudder to think how the victims would feel reading the numerous in-defense-of-DH comments online. Just because the other men aren’t caught doesn’t mean this one shouldn’t be called out for what he’s done. I agree with you, betheirsound, that the public shaming is well-deserved. And, let’s be real, he’d have continue with his ways if he hadn’t be caught. Idk, the situation is just black and white to me.

      Liked by 1 person

    • These social problems within the vegan movement affect all of society. Just that vegans are more likely to make a fuss about it since we’re by default concerned with social justice. So I don’t think it’s more prominent in these circles than anywhere else (in fact it’s likely far less) but we’ll confront it more readily.

      As for internal social drama, there is too much of it by far. It’s a product of a combination of people not listening to each other, and being on the internet instead of people speaking in person. All we are here are brains behind computers, missing a lot of helpful tone of voice and expression. Here we’re more likely to communicate like we are disconnected from each other, because we are. People are less likely to let words escalate in person. But almost all communication nowadays is online. Which is convenient.. We just have to learn to communicate effectively again despite the challenges of the limiting text communication.

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  3. Sadly Dominguez is nowhere near alone in committing sex crimes against vegan women — at least he was repentant after being caught. I know of one “vegan” macktivist who is currently committing the very same type of crimes with videos and photos. He has gotten away with this for years and will continue just as long as victim-blaming and rape culture prevails over common sense. This self-righteous father of three claims that because some women once entered into consensual relationships with him, it’s perfectly okay for him to share or threaten to share photos and videos of the times they were intimate with him. I wonder how he would feel if a person exactly like himself preyed upon his daughters?

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  4. What a scum bag! A few months on and there seems to be no trace of this occurance on his facebook at all. And now he’s moved to Cairns, Qld, Australia!! I pray the women in that town learn about this evil man soon.

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  5. This is a dreadful disappointment.
    I see no evidence that sexist behavior is higher in the activist community than in the broader community. In fact i have not seen any at all, possibly due to the fact that an active focus on rights tends to ripple out through other areas of interaction. I am aghast at generalisations in the article like “sexism runs rampant amongst activists” and “The animal rights movement has a human rights problem”. Recognising a problem is the first step to addressing it, but if these are untrue or gross exaggerations borne of anger over this man, we are doing our community untold damage.
    Criminal charges should be laid where laws have been broken. We don’t need this rubbish or anything that distracts us from our mission.

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  6. DxE fucking sucks, this is NOT the first predator. They have a core leader Ronnie is still in DxE who physically raped a woman alongside with another man named Assaf who physically (as well as raped) harassed so many and those women left because of him.

    So, DxE made a blog post about Hugo but, they don’t even care for anyone else. Those who physically were raped and assaulted are seen as liars and are shamed by the core DxE.

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  7. Given DXE’s latest rapist has been revealed over this past weekend and, once again, the members of the org/cult are up
    in arms over the miserable handling of the circumstance by their leader Wayne Hsiung and his own victim of abuse, his second in command, Priya Sawhney, now might be a good time for a follow-up post since folks are linking this one in their current conversations.

    More than a year later we now know DXE did NOT handle this situation with Hugo “gracefully”. After forcing Hugo to make a statement and leave the group/Facebook, their Chicago members were revealed to have thrown a party for Hugo, much to the dismay of many members–both inside and outside of Chicago. Many members were seen defending Hugo all over Facebook while at the same time blaming and lambasting his victims. Some went so far as to dismiss the whole thing as a racist witch hunt because Hugo is a man of color and apparently white sexual predators within DxE had not been treated in the same way.

    Hugo did move to Australia–where he dated a woman that he apparently abused within the context of their relationship. He then moved back to the US and began dating another woman, named Naomi, he was also abusive to. Ultimately, she released a public statement begging people who knew Hugo to please ask him to leave her alone.

    Meanwhile, DxE members learned Hugo had been welcomed back into the DxE fold, with no org-wide conversation or notification, via a couple of taunting posts made by DXE members in Los Angeles. They posted a pic of him in their home with the threatening message that he was going to be at that day’s potluck and anyone who didn’t like that could just fuck off. This was very upsetting for members who felt blindsided, members who had previously suffered some form of assault and who felt unsafe with Hugo or his supporters around, allies of Hugo’s previous victims, and members who felt DxE’s leadership had failed to follow through on their commitments made in the immediate aftermath of the revelations of Hugo’s predation.

    Now, DXE has once again given safe harbor to a rapist who has, once again, violated another female DxE member. And, once again, Wayne has no intention of removing this preadator–John Bowlin (who one year prior to the revelation of his rape of a DXE organizer had aggressively pursued women in an anti-DXE Facebook group that I run via multiple Facebook profiles.)

    DxE is an unsafe organization. Numerous former members have identified the group as a cult. This happened after their departure from the group when they were shown literature describing cults and their practices as well as checklists that help folks determine if they’ve actually been in a cult. All the folks who participated in this exercise were forced to admit DxE is, in fact, a cult. That alone is tremendously concerning–people are being manipulated and exploited, pressured, sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, harassed, lied to, lied about and when they have tried to raise their concerns with DXE leadership–especially Wayne & Priya, they are gaslit, they are love bombed, they are denied validation and acknowledgment, they are implored to keep their concerns to themselves lest they hurt the animals. And when female members express concerns about predatory men they are repeatedly denied justice and are instead met with hostility and, most shockingly, protection of and support for the predators–this is often the catalyst for members to leave.

    Now another woman has been raped by someone Wayne is determined to protect and to provide safe harbor for within DXE. It’s time everyone understand what DXE actually is and the wife and varied harm it is causing to our communities and the individual vegans that make them up.

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    • I haven’t been active on this blog for years, but I signed on especially to approve this comment. I am going to make a second post with your comment as text just so people are sure to see it. I hope that is ok. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to tell me all of this.

      If you want to talk about this further please feel free to email me directly at betheirsound@gmail.com.

      Liked by 1 person

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