Four women have come forward with civil suits against Albert Schultz, a Canadian actor and artistic director of Soulpepper Theatre Company, and the Toronto-based venue, alleging instances of sexual assault and harassment spanning 12 years—and an environment that allowed the misconduct to persist.
Patricia Fagan, Kristin Botoh, Diana Bentley, and Hannah Miller seek damages totaling $7.85 million—$3.6 million from Schultz and $4.25 million from Soulpepper, reports The Globe and Mail.
The individual suits from the four actors detail numerous allegations, including multiple instances of Schultz exposing himself backstage and at a house party, and groping women under the guise of rehearsal and performance.
In her statement, Miller recalls that Schultz had warned her and peers from the Soulpepper Academy in 2011 that he would hide in female dressing rooms “as a ‘joke.’” When an employee of the theatre company had reported this to the board of directors, Schultz informed the board that his behavior had been “a joke and was all in good fun,” and received no punitive action.
The incident sheds light on the inclusion of the company as a whole in the legal action: “These methods regularly involved Soulpepper staff and were otherwise facilitated by Soulpepper,” reads each complaint.
Following reports of the legal claims, Soulpepper announced that Schultz would step down from his position as the company launches an investigation into the allegations. Four actors, including co-founders Ted Dykstra and Stuart Hughes, have stated they will not work with Soulpepper until Schultz "has no role with the Company."
The lawsuit is the latest in steps taken to respond to a wave of sexual misconduct allegations in the theatre industry. Regionally, these allegations have forced companies such as Dallas Theater Center and Gloucester Stage Company to reconsider their ties with artistic leaders.