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John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Disney Animation and Pixar, is taking a leave of absence from Walt Disney following allegations of inappropriate behaviour that were reported in the Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday.

In a memo to employees, Mr Lasseter acknowledged “painful” conversations and unspecified “missteps”. He said:

It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form.

A Disney spokesperson said: “We are committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work. We appreciate John’s candor and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical.”

Mr Lasseter is a cofounder of Pixar, the animation studio Disney acquired in 2006 and is widely seen as the creative heart of Disney’s animated films and a powerful force in the animation business.

A longtime Pixar employee told the Hollywood Reporter that Mr Lasseter was “known for “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes.”

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