Capcom, Evo ban pro player Noel Brown following sexual assault incident

Brown was previously charged with domestic violence in 2013.

Capcom announced yesterday that it has banned fighting game competitor Noel Brown for the duration of its 2016 tournament season, after Brown was caught on camera groping a fellow attendee at a public event.

"We do not condone any acts of harassment and we want all of our players and fans to know we will continue our work to ensure that all Capcom Pro Tour events provide safe, inviting environments," the company said in a statement. "A second offense will result in a lifetime ban from participating in all future Capcom Pro Tour events. We will use this as a baseline penalty if similar incidents occur in the future."

Another major tournament, Evolution (Evo) echoed Capcom's statements and likewise has banned Brown from its 2016 event, according to Shoryuken.

A photo of Noel Brown taken circa 2013 (via Kotaku). A photo of Noel Brown taken circa 2013 (via Kotaku).

"Evo stands behind Capcom’s decision to ban any player responsible for acts of harassment. We have a zero tolerance policy for behavior that creates an unsafe environment for our attendees," said Evo co-founder Joey Cuellar. "He will not be allowed to attend Evo 2016."

The incident was captured on a public livestream of Capcom-backed pro tournament Combo Breaker 2016 on May 29th. Tournament co-organizer Rick Thiher made oblique references to it in the days that followed, though Brown was not named at the time. In confirming the assault in its Thursday announcement, Capcom repeatedly stressed Brown's actions were unsolicited and unwanted, and that his victim -- understandably -- wishes to remain anonymous.

This has not stopped a certain segment of the fighting game community from rising up in Brown's defense, contending the ban was the result of racism -- Noel Brown is black -- or that the victim is lying. It may be worth noting, however, that Brown was previously charged in 2013 with domestic violence battery for allegedly hitting his ex-girlfriend. At the time, that arrest was enough to lose Brown a commentating gig with Caribbean tournament Video X Games, so you could argue that, if anything, his present suspension from Capcom and Evo is long overdue.

(h/t Yahoo! Esports.)