Proposed - Transparency Report on CppCon Safety


Patricia Aas, 08 March 2022

Proposed - Include <C++> Position on CppCon Safety

Content Warning

This document contains material on rape and child sexual exploitation that may be harmful or traumatic to some audiences.


#include <C++> has never before made a transparency report. We do so now because we feel it is important that the community is made aware of what happened and why #include <C++> has had to take the steps we have.

We are reporting what happened to the best of our knowledge and in good faith. The information available to us is limited due to the desire of other actors to avoid transparency and accountability.

We’ve omitted some identifying information (names, etc) to protect the identities of some of those involved.


CppCon is the largest conference for the C++ community. It was first held in 2014, and is run by the Standard C++ Foundation.

One of the CppCon organizers and speakers has a criminal record. They were convicted of rape and possession of Child Sexual Abuse Imagery in 2011, and are a registered sex offender.

The Board of the Standard C++ Foundation learned of this in late 2020 after CppCon 2020. They did not share this information with key CppCon organizers, including the Code of Conduct team and the Program Chair.

They allowed individual X to remain involved as an organizer and speaker for months. When others started to learn of X’s criminal record, the Board claims they removed X from their roles at CppCon 2021.

Despite this claim, individual X still attended the conference, received financial support from the conference, hosted a community event at the conference, and was listed as staff on the conference website.

At CppCon 2021, the Board met with individual X in secret, and decided to allow them to speak at future conferences; the only restriction was that they would not be allowed to resume their former organizer role.

Involved Parties

  • CppCon is the world’s largest C++ conference.
  • CppCon organizers are the volunteers and staff who run the conference.
  • The CppCon Conference Chair, Jon Kalb, is the chief organizer.
  • The CppCon Program Chair, Bryce Adelstein Lelbach, is responsible for putting together the conference’s main program.
  • Individual X is a CppCon organizer and speaker who has a criminal record. They were convicted of rape and possession of Child Sexual Abuse Imagery in 2011, and are a registered sex offender.
  • The Standard C++ Foundation is a US 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to support the C++ community. It runs CppCon.
  • The Standard C++ Foundation Board of Directors currently consists of Herb Sutter, Bjarne Stroustrup, Michael Wong, Nina Ranns, and Inbal Levi.
  • The Standard C++ Foundation Board President is Herb Sutter.
  • #include <C++> is a global community of C++ developers who aim to make the C++ community more welcoming, open, and inclusive.


  • Late 2020 (after CppCon 2020): Herb Sutter, the President of the Standard C++ Foundation Board, learns of X’s criminal history.
  • 2021-07-05: Information about X’s criminal history and identity is posted in #organization-offtopic on the #include <C++> discord server.
  • 2021-07-07: Guy Davidson starts a group DM with #include <C++> administrators Fred Tingaud, Kate Gregory, Sy Brand, and Patricia Aas to discuss the posts about individual X.
  • 2021-07-12: #include <C++> administrators decided to remove messages from #organization-offtopic that identified individual X and to ban X if they try to join the discord server in the future. A message is posted in a channel available only to #include <C++> organizers that explains why the messages were removed and the steps forward.
  • 2021-07-13: An #include <C++> organizer informs a member of the Standard C++ Foundation Board of X’s record, and learns that the board member already knew.
  • 2021-08-31: Bryce Adelstein Lelbach, the CppCon Program Chair, learns of X’s background and emails Herb Sutter to inform him and express concerns about X’s continued involvement with CppCon. Herb states that he, the Standard C++ Foundation Board, and Jon Kalb were already aware of X’s record. Herb sends Bryce the “CppCon felon policy”, which was approved by the Standard C++ Foundation board but has not been made publicly available.
  • 2021-09-?? (unknown): The Standard C++ Foundation board meets to discuss X’s participation in CppCon.
  • 2021-09-22: Herb Sutter “accepts” the resignation of a Standard C++ Foundation board member, Chandler Carruth, who raised objections to the process and decisions of the board. The board member had tendered their resignation in 2020-10, but had been persuaded to stay on for the following year. This resulted in the board member leaving the board with immediate effect.
  • 2021-09-23: Herb Sutter meets with Bryce Adelstein Lelbach to inform him that individual X will be removed from their role as a CppCon 2021 organizer and speaker, but would still be allowed to attend the conference.
  • 2021-10-17: Individual X joins the #include <C++> discord.
  • 2021-10-18: Individual X is banned from the #include <C++> discord, as per the 2021-07-12 decision.
  • 2021-10-24: Start of CppCon 2021.
  • 2021-10-2? (unknown): The Standard C++ Foundation board meets with individual X in person. X discusses the details of their crimes from their perspective, and explains the value that they believe they bring to the conference. The board decides to allow X to speak at and attend future conferences. The only restriction is that individual X will not be allowed to hold their previous conference organizer role.
  • 2021-10-26: CppCon’s professional diversity consultant, who is also the head of the CppCon Code of Conduct team, ends her relationship with the conference and leaves the conference early.
  • 2021-10-2X (exact date withheld to protect the identity): Individual X hosts an officially scheduled community event at CppCon 2021 where they are introduced by Herb Sutter.
  • 2021-10-29: End of CppCon 2021.
  • 2021-10-30: Bryce Adelstein Lelbach discovers that the board met with individual X and decided to allow them to speak at future conferences. He contacts Kate Gregory to discuss the situation and informs her he will resign as Program Chair if the decision is not reversed.
  • 2021-11-11: Bryce Adelstein Lelbach asks Herb Sutter if the restrictions on X’s involvement that were adopted for CppCon 2021 are still in place. Herb Sutter tells him that the board has lifted the restrictions, and X will be allowed to speak at future conferences.
  • 2021-11-17 07:00 EST: Patricia Aas is informed of the situation by Bryce Adelstein Lelbach. She starts a group DM with Fred Tingaud, Kate Gregory, Sy Brand, Guy Davidson, and Bryce Adelstein Lelbach, where she proposes that #include <C++> should break ties with CppCon and inform the community of this situation.
  • 2021-11-17 13:30 EST: Bryce Adelstein Lelbach meets with Herb Sutter to explain his disagreement with the board decision and his intention to resign. He informs Herb that members of #include <C++> are aware of this and are considering breaking ties with CppCon. (edit 2022.03.12 changed “#include <C++> organizers” to “members of #include <C++>” - reason “organizers” is a specific much bigger group in #include <C++> than the ones who were involved at this time.)
  • 2021-11-18: A member of the board meets with Patricia Aas, and joins the #include <C++> group DM. The board member states that they believe that individual X will not be allowed to speak at future conferences, contrary to what Bryce Adelstein Lelbach was told by Herb Sutter on 2021-11-11.
  • 2021-11-18: The board member speaking with the #include <C++> organizers schedules a meeting between the board and Patricia Aas, Kate Gregory, and Bryce Adelstein Lelbach.
  • 2021-11-18 17:22 EST: Herb Sutter asks Patricia Aas, Kate Gregory, and Bryce Adelstein Lelbach to meet with individual X to understand X’s “perspective”.
  • 2021-11-18 20:20 EST: Patricia Aas, Kate Gregory, and Bryce Adelstein Lelbach communicate that they will not meet with individual X, and inform Herb Sutter that they feel this is inappropriate.
  • 2021-11-19 10:00 EST: Patricia Aas, Kate Gregory, and Bryce Adelstein Lelbach learn that Herb Sutter has informed individual X of their names after Kate Gregory and Bryce Adelstein Lelbach receive unsolicited emails from X asking to meet with them.
  • 2021-11-20 08:48 EST: Kate Gregory reiterates to Herb Sutter that she does not wish to speak with individual X.
  • 2021-11-21 08:09 EST: Kate Gregory asks Herb Sutter if X will be allowed to speak at or be an organizer for future conferences. Herb Sutter says he will answer that at the planned meeting between the board and the #include <C++> representatives.
  • 2021-11-22 13:15 EST: The Standard C++ Foundation board meets with Patricia Aas, Kate Gregory, and Bryce Adelstein Lelbach. The board begins the meeting by presenting their written statement, and say that they will not answer any questions. The board explicitly, on direct questioning, refused to answer whether X will be allowed to speak at future conferences. The rest of the 1.5 hour meeting consists mostly of the #include <C++> representatives answering the board’s questions. The #include <C++> representatives explain their position and inform the board that they will propose that #include <C++> break ties with CppCon and go public with this information. Bryce Adelstein Lelbach informs the board that he is resigning as CppCon Program Chair.
  • 2021-11-22 16:00 EST: The #include <C++> representatives are told that X’s registration and hotel room were paid for by the conference, even though they were not a speaker this year. X was also sent a speakers gift basket after the conference.
  • 2022-03-08: Patricia Aas publishes this proposed transparency report along with the proposed statement on CppCon safety.
  • 2022-03-09: The C++ Foundation issues a statement and a new safety policy. In the statement they omit key details outlined in this report like the decision to lift all restrictions except the organizer role, they also omit that CppCon paid for the hotel, that the President of the board introduced X at the event or that they sent X a speakers gift basket. They do say that “The individual will not attend CppCon for as long as their presence would be broadly disruptive to the conference”. No other timeline is given.
  • 2022-03-10: X still has access to the CppCon Google Drive and has been actively involved in planning CppCon 2022 over the past week.
  • 2022-03-12: Chandler Carruth, the previously unnamed board member that was made to leave the board, writes a Twitter thread about his experience.
  • 2022-03-14: #include <C++> publishes a revised and official version of the Include <C++> Position on CppCon Safety.
  • 2022-03-18: #include <C++> publishes a new statement: #include <C++> stands with Patricia
  • 2022-03-25: The C++ Foundation board publishes their minutes from their meeting which was held on March 15th.
  • 2022-03-30: X joins the US National Body (INCITS PL22.16) and thereby the ISO C++ standardization committee
  • 2022-03-30: The C++ Foundation board publishes a Q&A document.
  • 2022-03-31: CppCon publishes its first Transparency Report (does not include this incident).
  • 2022-05-04: A petition is created: Ban convicted sex offender from ISO C++ Standard meetings
  • 2022-05-11: Barbara Geller writes a thread on Twitter where she describes how Jon Kalb removed her as organizer of the Bay Area ACCU Meetup after she brought up having a CoC and covid protocols.
  • 2022-05-13: Barbara Geller clarifies in two replies (first and second) that the CoC proposal was a direct result of the situation around X: “I demanded that person X must be removed as an organizer from the user group. Jon agreed to remove X, but reluctantly” and “I said we needed to create a procedure addressing the safety of attendees on issues like known sex offenders being in the room”.
  • 2022-05-16: CppCon publishes Diversity and Inclusion at CppCon 2022.
  • 2022-05-19: LLVM publishes Upcoming Project Policy Changes which includes the following: “Users may not be a convicted sex offender or listed on any US state or federal sex offender registry (or other country equivalent).”.


#include <C++> Discord Position

Posted in #organization July 12th 2021 by Kate Gregory

“I have removed a number of messages from organisation-offtopic. An organizer came across information that a well known member of the C++ community, who is not a member of this server, was convicted in 2011 of sexual assault after drugging someone, and possession of child pornography. The messages I removed named the person, linked to government websites that included personal information including the person’s address, and confirmed that the member of the C++ community has the same address using semi public information such as LinkedIn. Leaving this information in that channel, even though it is restricted only to organizers, is in violation of our Code of Conduct, which makes it clear that we do not allow anyone’s private information to be shared on this server.

A different organizer then started a group DM with all the #include admins. After careful and extensive discussion, we have taken the following actions in response to learning about the history of this member of the C++ community:

- if this person tries to join this server, they will be banned. This will be handled by an admin and does not require all the moderators to know about the person’s history. - between the thread in organisation-offtopic and the group DM, almost all the largest conferences are now formally aware of this history and their own organizers are likely to take further action. Because of the connection between CppCon and the C++ Foundation, the C++ committee will also be made aware of the situation. As a group, #include will not be tracking this, but the individual admins and the organizer who started the group DM will be. We all agree we would not feel comfortable with this person, for example, attending a conference dinner with a vulnerable attendee or volunteer, and we’ll be dealing with that (in our individual capacities) at the conference-organizer and Code-of-Conduct level, not by making the information widely public. - the messages in organisation-offtopic will be removed for privacy reasons as explained above.”