Did Bill Willingham Fabricate Embezzlement Accusations Against Stephanie Cooke?

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Willingham Cooke Embezzlement

The Short Answer 

No.

The Longer Answer

On July 30, 2020, our esteemed competition in reporting on comics and entertainment, Bleeding Fool, published the second part in their ongoing series of articles investigating the so-called "Whisper Network,"  And while the bulk of that article continued to delve into the secret Facebook group, Women in Comics, it led with a blockbuster accusation that had been completely excluded -- and, in fact, in the case of one website, completely deleted -- from coverage. That accusation came from comic book writer Bill Willingham (FABLES, ELEMENTALS), when he claimed that Stephanie Cooke, working at the time as his assistant, embezzled in excess of $10,000 from his accounts.

Twitter responses ran from one extreme to the other with the revelation of this information, from the flash-in-the-pan satirical hashtag "#StephanieCrook" to offers of support from industry professionals, such as Richard Pace, where respondents to his posting went so far as to theorize that Willingham was fabricating the entire event.

He was not.

The Detailed Answer

In the interest of accuracy, Critical Blast filed a request with the Records Department of the Dodge County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota, where Willingham filed the charges in May of 2015.

The original report, as well as the redacted financial statements submitted as proof of claim, are reproduced below for readers to see and judge for themselves. On the face of it, however, it is at the very least clear that Willingham feels strongly enough to have filed a report and to have provided a degree of forensic accounting as evidence.

The status of the report with the DCSO remains open, pending investigation.

The Report

Supporting Evidence