Maureen Lee Lenker and Marc Snetiker
November 21, 2017 AT 04:35 PM EST

John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, has announced he will take a formal leave of absence from his positions.

In an internal memo addressed to Pixar, WDAS, and Disneytoon Studios staff members on Tuesday, Lasseter revealed his intention to take a six-month sabbatical, adding an apology “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.” Shortly after Lasseter’s memo went public, The Hollywood Reporter, published allegations of misconduct against the Pixar co-founder.

Lasseter will take a leave for six months, he wrote, “to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.”

A Disney spokesperson released this statement supporting Lasseter’s decision: “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.”

Read Lasseter’s full memo, obtained by EW, below:

To My Pixar, WDAS and DTS Family
I have always wanted our animation studios to be places where creators can explore their vision with the support and collaboration of other gifted animators and storytellers.  This kind of creative culture takes constant vigilance to maintain.   It’s built on trust and respect, and it becomes fragile if any members of the team don’t feel valued.  As a leader, it’s my responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen; and I now believe I have been falling short in this regard.

I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me.  It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them.  As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be.  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.  No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.

In my conversations with Disney, we are united in our commitment to always treat any concerns you have with the seriousness they deserve, and to address them in an appropriate manner. We also share a desire to reinforce the vibrant, respectful culture that has been the foundation of our studios’ success since the beginning.   And we agree the first step in that direction is for me to take some time away to reflect on how to move forward from here.  As hard as it is for me to step away from a job I am so passionate about and a team I hold in the highest regard, not just as artists but as people, I know it’s the best thing for all of us right now.   My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.

I’m immensely proud of this team, and I know you will continue to wow the world in my absence.  I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working together again in the new year.

As one of the earliest members of the Pixar brain trust, Lasseter became synonymous with the studio as the director of Toy Story and Toy Story 2, quickly ascending to a role as chief creative officer at both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He has produced every animated feature to emerge from Pixar (except his directorial efforts) and every WDAS feature since 2007; it is under Lasseter’s tenure that films like Bolt, Tangled, and Wreck-It Ralph led the latter studio (and its Disneytoon arm) to a recent resurgence.

Lasseter wrote and directed 1995’s Toy Story, which put Pixar on the map and earned the 60-year-old an Oscar for special achievement. In the years since, Lasseter has acted as executive producer on Pixar’s expansive list of critically acclaimed features (including this weekend’s Coco) while also helping rejuvenate Walt Disney Animation Studios as executive producer on hits like Frozen and Moana.

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