In the wake of a sex harassment scandal that sent shockwaves through the theatre community and forced the departure of artistic director Albert Schultz, Soulpepper Theatre Company said its "core mission" has always been "to provide a safe community for its exceptionally talented group of professionals."
But an investigation by CBC's The Fifth Estate raises questions about how the company has handled similar sexual harassment allegations in the past.
Interviews with actors, internal Soulpepper emails and audio recordings of meetings obtained by The Fifth Estate indicate that management — and Schultz — misled staff about the 2016 departure of theatre director Laszlo Marton.
The company kept secret the real reasons for his departure for 19 months until a scandal broke overseas, forcing it to go public about sexual harassment allegations that had been made against Marton while he worked for the Toronto-based company.
In a letter to The Fifth Estate, Soulpepper said: "Given the small size of the Soulpepper community and the import of confidentiality to those involved, management identified a risk that if the reasons for Mr. Marton's termination were shared with the broader community, it would jeopardize the anonymity and Soulpepper's agreement of confidentiality.
"As a result, the reasons for the end of Mr. Marton's relationship with Soulpepper were not broadly disclosed at that time."
Two weeks ago, four former Soulpepper performers filed civil lawsuits seeking $4.25 million in damages from Soulpepper and $3.6 million from Schultz.
Within days of the lawsuit, Schultz was forced to resign and Soulpepper announced it had "severed all ties" with Leslie Lester, the company's executive director and Schultz's wife.
None of the allegations has been tested in court and Schultz has vowed to "vigorously defend" himself.
In the wake of the allegations, the executive committee of Soulpepper's board of directors issued a statement vowing to "listen, act and make meaningful change."
The company singled out its handling of Marton's case as evidence that it had "the right policies and procedures in place to maintain a safe and healthy workplace." But that's not how longtime actors and staff at the company see it.
'Laszlo was his mentor'
Marton, an Internationally acclaimed director, began working at Soulpepper in 2000. "Albert talked all the time about how Laszlo was his mentor," said Richard Lam, an actor at the theatre company for four years.
Suddenly in the middle of production for the play A Doll's House in March 2016, Marton was abruptly replaced with another director.
In an email obtained by CBC, the cast and crew of the play were informed of "a necessary change to the creative team." The email, written by Schultz, said: "Due to complications with his work visa, Laszlo Marton will not be able to direct."
What members of the community were not told was that Soulpepper had dismissed Marton because two women had come forward with allegations of sexual harassment, one in Toronto and one on a Soulpepper trip to Budapest, in his native Hungary.
'I wanted her to escalate her complaint'
In a letter to The Fifth Estate, Lester confirmed that in 2015 one of the women, a company member, told her about incidents involving Marton. "The first complainant and I were out at a bar having a drink," said Lester. "I told her I wanted her to escalate her complaint, and adamantly persuaded her to make a formal complaint, which she finally did."
Shortly after, a second company member came forward to Soulpepper management, also alleging sexual harassment by the guest artistic director. Soulpepper launched an investigation, which led to Marton's dismissal.
But in exchange for a copy of its investigation report, Soulpepper asked the first complainant to sign a non-disclosure agreement, forbidding her from speaking about the incident with others at the company. Still, word quietly spread and whispers of the allegations circulated throughout Soulpepper, company members said.
"I was disgusted. I was very disappointed. I was very angry," Lam told CBC..
'A very fatty dinner to celebrate an extraordinary man'
More than a year after Marton's departure from the company, Schultz organized a dinner in his honour. In an email obtained by CBC, Schultz invited present and former members of the company "for a very fatty dinner to celebrate an extraordinary man."
When Trish Fagan, an actress who worked at Soulpepper for 12 seasons and would become the driving force behind the lawsuit against Schultz, received the invitation, she wasn't surprised.
"I knew how much Albert loved Lazlo," Fagan said.
"It seemed to me that he was probably devastated at having to fire Lazlo and this was his way of saying I still love you and he wanted to round us all up to do that with him."
But Fagan refused to attend the dinner "because I was asked to go and honour a man who was fired for sexual harassment at the home of the man who sexually harassed me."
For actress Kirstin Booth, who would also file a lawsuit against Schultz and Soulpepper, the company's continued silence on the matter spoke to a deeper problems at the company. "There is a culture there that still celebrated Laszlo," she told CBC.
Scandal in Hungary
It would be another six months before Soulpepper would be forced to break its silence over the Marton affair by a scandal that started making headlines thousands of kilometres away.
Hungary's #MeToo movement exploded in October 2017 when a high-profile Hungarian theatre actress, Lilla Sarosdi, came forward with allegations of sexual harassment by Marton.
In an interview with CBC, Sarosdi said it started with a Facebook post she wrote about a "famous director" asking her to perform oral sex on him when she was 17 years old.
Marton denied Sarosdi's allegations. But as Sarosdi's story became a national news sensation in Hungary, several other women come forward with similar allegations against him.
In an open letter published in Hungarian media outlets, Marton apologized for any harm he might have inflicted.
'There was no reckoning'
Back in Toronto, the news quickly circulated on social media among Soulpepper artists.
Within days of the Hungarian media storm — after nearly two years of remaining silent about Marton — Soulpepper held an emergency company meeting where it announced the real reasons behind his dismissal.
According to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by The Fifth Estate, Schultz told the members of the company that it "kept the investigation and its results confidential in order to protect the complainants."
For the first time, Soulpepper told the public about the allegations against Marton in a statement that reaffirmed the company's dedication to "creating a safe place of belonging for artists, audiences, and aspirants."
Lam, who at that meeting, felt he was listening to a scripted message that rang hollow. "There was no reckoning, there was no reflection," he said. "It just seemed so fake."
The meeting was a real turning point for Fagan, who said it ignited her desire to speak out against what she saw as the company's hypocrisy. To her, it felt like the company was trying to hide issues of sexual harassment rather than actually dealing with them.
"I just didn't know if I believed that things were being handled the way they should," Fagan told CBC.
"Here was Albert, you know, saying we don't condone this behaviour, we don't, we got rid of [Marton] because we support these women," said Booth. "Reading the statement that Soulpepper released to the press ... made me sick to my stomach. And I said, this is hypocrisy at its finest. And I said, I can't be silent."
It also proved to be the last straw for several other women at the company who decided to finally come forward.
"Silence is what breeds more predatory behaviour," said Booth. "The more we stay quiet, the more it will happen."
Francis said that until he sees proof that Bishop Juan Barros was complicit in covering up the sex crimes of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, such accusations against Barros are "all calumny."
Calumny - slanderous lies
The Pope's remarks drew shock from Chileans and immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates. They noted the accusers were deemed credible enough by the Vatican that it sentenced Karadima to a lifetime of "penance and prayer" for his crimes in 2011. A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes wasn't lacking.
"As if I could have taken a selfie or a photo while Karadima abused me and others and Juan Barros stood by watching it all," tweeted Barros's most vocal accuser, Juan Carlos Cruz. "These people are truly crazy, and the pontiff talks about atonement to the victims. Nothing has changed, and his plea for forgiveness is empty."
The Karadima scandal dominated Francis's visit to Chile and the overall issue of sex abuse and church cover-up was likely to factor into his three-day trip to Peru that began late Thursday.
Karadima's victims reported to church authorities as early as 2002 that he would kiss and fondle them in the swank Santiago parish he ran, but officials refused to believe them. Only when the victims went public with their accusations in 2010 did the Vatican launch an investigation that led to Karadima being removed from ministry.
The emeritus archbishop of Santiago subsequently apologized for having refused to believe the victims from the start.
Francis reopened the wounds of the scandal in 2015 when he named Barros, a protege of Karadima, as bishop of the southern diocese of Osorno. Karadima's victims say Barros knew of the abuse, having seen it, but did nothing. Barros has denied the allegations.
'It's all calumny. Is that clear?'
His appointment outraged Chileans, badly divided the Osorno diocese and further undermined the church's already shaky credibility in the country.
Francis had sought to heal the wounds by meeting this week with abuse victims and begging forgiveness for the crimes of church pastors. But on Thursday, he struck a defiant tone when asked by a Chilean journalist about Barros.
"The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I'll speak," Francis said. "There is not one shred of proof against him. It's all calumny. Is that clear?"
Francis had defended the appointment before, calling the Osorno controversy "stupid" and the result of a campaign mounted by leftists. But The Associated Press reported last week that the Vatican was so worried about the fallout from the Karadima affair that it was prepared in 2014 to ask Barros and two other Karadima-trained bishops to resign and go on a yearlong sabbatical.
Bishop not recognized by many priests
According to a Jan. 31, 2015, letter obtained by AP from Francis to the executive committee of the Chilean bishops' conference, the plan fell apart and Barros was sent to Osorno.
Juan Carlos Claret, spokesperson for a group of Osorno lay Catholics who have mounted a three-year campaign against Barros, questioned why Francis was now accusing the victims of slandering Barros when the Vatican was so convinced of their claims that it planned to remove him in 2014.
The reference was to the fact that — guilty or not — Barros has been unable to do his job because so many Osorno Catholics and priests don't recognize him as their bishop. They staged an unprecedented protest during his 2015 installation ceremony and have protested his presence ever since.
'He has just turned back the clock'
Anne Barrett Doyle, of the online database BishopAccountability.org, said it was "sad and wrong" for the Pope to discredit the victims since "the burden of proof here rests with the church, not the victims — and especially not with victims whose veracity has already been affirmed."
"He has just turned back the clock to the darkest days of this crisis," she said in a statement. "Who knows how many victims now will decide to stay hidden, for fear they will not be believed?"
Indeed, Catholic officials for years accused victims of slandering and attacking the church with their claims. But up until Francis's words Thursday, many in the church and Vatican had come to reluctantly acknowledge that victims usually told the truth and that the church for decades had wrongly sought to protect its own.
German Silva, a political scientist at Santiago's Universidad Mayor, said the Pope's comments were a "tremendous error" that will reverberate in Chile and beyond.
Scandal strongly affected Chileans
Patricio Navia, political science professor at Diego Portales University in Santiago, said Francis had gone much further than Chilean bishops in acknowledging the sexual abuse scandal, which many Chileans appreciated.
"Then right before leaving, Francis turns around and says: `By the way, I don't think Barros is guilty. Show me some proof,"' Navia said, adding that the comment will probably erase any good will the Pope had won over the issue.
Navia said the Karadima scandal had radically changed how Chileans view the church.
"In the typical Chilean family, parents [now] think twice before sending their kids to Catholic school because you never know what is going to happen," Navia said.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement and Time's Up campaign, which have focused attention on the treatment of women, the list of actors who have denounced the famed director is growing.
"I wouldn't work with him again," Firth told The Guardian on Thursday.
The actor's comment came the same day "CBS This Morning" aired Dylan Farrow's first televised interview in which she again asserted that her father had molested her when she was seven years old.
Farrow, 32, has talked about the sexual assault before, in an interview with Vanity Fair in 2013 and in an open letter published in the New York Times in 2014, but her comments on Thursday mark the first time she detailed the assault in a televised interview.
10 Undeniable Facts About the Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation by Maureen Orth - Vanity Fair
Allen has consistently, and vehemently denied the allegation and was not charged.
Investigators concluded at the time that Farrow had not been abused, according to The New York Times, which covered the custody proceedings after Allen filed for custody of his three children with Mia Farrow in 1992.
"When this claim was first made more than 25 years ago, it was thoroughly investigated by both the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital and New York State Child Welfare," Allen said in a statement released Thursday. "They both did so for many months and independently concluded that no molestation had ever taken place. Instead, they found it likely a vulnerable child had been coached to tell the story by her angry mother during a contentious breakup."
In fact, the District Attorney said he had enough evidence to go forward with the charge but because of Dylan's fragility, chose not to. See link above.
But as Hollywood has seen several powerful men fall after allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment, some actors have come forward to say they will no longer work with Allen.
In separate interviews Greta Gerwig and Mira Sorvino, who both have appeared in Allen projects, said they won't work with him again.
In an open letter recently published by the Huffington Post, Sorvino apologized to Farrow. "As a mother and a woman, this breaks my heart for you," Sorvino wrote. We are in a day and age when everything must be re-examined," Sorvino added. "This kind of abuse cannot be allowed to continue. If this means tearing down all the old gods, so be it."
In a podcast with The Hollywood Reporter, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" star Rachel Brosnahan said she regretted working with Allen on the Amazon series "Crisis in Six Scenes."
"Honestly, it's the decision that I have made in my life that is the most inconsistent with everything I stand for and believe in, both publicly and privately," she said. "And while I can't take it back, it's important to me, moving forward, to make decisions that better reflect the things that I value and my worldview."
Rebecca Hall, who appears in Allen's new film "A Rainy Day in New York" announced via social media that she would be donating the salary she earned to the Time's Up movement, which has been raising money for a legal defense fund for victims of sexual harassment and abuse across industries.
"I regret this decision and wouldn't make the same one today," Hall wrote of working with Allen. "It's a small gesture and not one intended as close to compensation but I've donated my wage to @timesup."
Her co-star, Timothee Chalamet, did the same. Chalamet said in an Instagram that because of "contractual obligations" he has been unable to speak about Allen. He said he would donate his salary to three charities, including Time's Up.
"I want to be worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with the brave artists who are fighting for all people to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve," he said.
And they are just the latest stars.
Ealier this month, "The Deuce" actor David Krumholtz tweeted he had made a mistake working with Allen on the 2017 drama "Wonder Wheel."
In October, "The Tick" star Griffin Newman tweeted that he regretted working on "A Rainy Day in New York" and said he was donating his salary.
GEELONG Grammar’s resident doctor of more than 30 years allegedly assaulted girls and males over two decades during his tenure at the Corio campus.
The victims names and ages have been suppressed but a letter from Geelong Grammar to former pupils states the complainants are past students of the school.
Dr Mackey was charged by detectives on October 25 last year following investigations into alleged abuse at Geelong Grammar School by detectives from the state’s historic sex abuse task force Sano.
Nine alleged victims are expected to form a group of up to 16 witnesses, including four former nurses and a paediatric doctor, who will give evidence at a four-day committal hearing scheduled for August.
One alleged victim will give evidence via video link from New South Wales while Magistrate John Lesser ordered a separate witness room be made available for other victims to give evidence from if they wish. Mr Lesser said it was important for all witnesses that the committal hearing was heard “in one go”.
Court documents viewed by the Geelong Advertiser allege Dr Mackie first committed the alleged abuse on January 1, 1958 — with many of the charges relating to alleged abuse over extended periods. Two charges allege Dr Mackey unlawfully assaulted a girl between January 1, 1977 and August 25, 1978.
A Geelong Grammar student from 1945, Dr Mackey was made head boy in 1952 and captained the school’s football team. He returned as the school’s resident doctor in 1964 after completing a medical degree at Melbourne University and working at The Alfred hospital and interstate. Dr Mackey held the senior position until 1993 and was fundamental in establishing the school’s Kennedy Medical Centre in 1969, replacing the closed Sanatorium.
Dr Mackey lived at the school’s Corio campus with his wife and four children during his tenure. After leaving Geelong Grammar School he worked as a general practitioner specialising in adolescent health. Dr Mackey is understood to have volunteered at Queenscliff’s Cottage by the Sea and was listed as a financial donor in the organisation’s 2014 annual report.
In the letter, current Geelong Grammar Principal Stephen Meek said: “Dr Mackey was charged with 21 offences from a number of complainants who are past students at the school. The school cannot comment further as this matter is now before the court”.
Five former staff members at Geelong Grammar — Graham Leslie Dennis, John Hamilton Buckley, Stefan Van Vuuren, Philippe Trutmann and John Fitzroy Clive Harvey (known as Jonathon Harvey) — have been convicted of child sex offences.
Mr Meek said the community should have “full confidence in the school’s current medical practices and procedures. Students have been able to choose male or female consulting doctors from local medical practices for many years, overseen by a senior medical officer and supported by a professional and dedicated team of nurses at our Kennedy and Timbertop medical centre,” Mr Meek said.
Mr Meek said the school, which was largely condemned for its failure to protect students by The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse commissioners, had a zero tolerance of child abuse.
“As I said during the The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, the school deeply regrets the wrongful conduct by some of its former staff and I assure you that the current school leadership will continue to address these matters and support those affected,” Mr Meek said.
Mr Meek has urged anyone who needs support to contact its independent survivor liaison co-ordinator. Dr Mackey, whose legal team has been granted permission to cross examine all witnesses, will appear at Geelong Magistrates’ Court on August 6.
A woman accused of lying about a Westminster paedophile plot has been awarded special status at a public inquiry into child sex abuse.
Core participants are entitled to apply for taxpayer-funded legal representation. They can also make opening and closing statements at hearings, suggest lines of questioning, and receive electronic disclosure of evidence.
The decision to give her special status comes months after police dropped an investigation into her claims against ex-MP John Hemming. Prosecutors ruled there was insufficient evidence to press charges.
He and others had been accused by Miss Baker of repeatedly raping her in a forest at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, in the 1980s and 1990s when she was between the ages of six and 11 – while police kept guard.
She waived her legal right to anonymity in 2015 to give a TV interview about her alleged ordeal.
Mr Hemming was voluntarily interviewed under caution by Staffordshire Police, but not arrested, and made a formal allegation to police that Miss Baker had perverted the course of justice.
She emphatically denies being a fantasist and making up her rape story.
Last night Mr Hemming said: ‘Appointing a complainant who has a public track record of continually changing her public allegations as a core participant brings the inquiry into disrepute. She should not be trusted with the information available to core participants and under no circumstances should she get any public funding.’
Details of Mr Hemming’s claims, which he says support his complaint that Miss Baker perverted the course of justice, appear in legal papers seen by the Daily Mail.
In a High Court witness statement this month, the ex-MP claimed that two weeks before she accused him of rape, Miss Baker had emailed him and sought his help.
He said: ‘She did not accuse me of being a rapist … she said she had been abused as a child in a faith-related paedophile ring. Her own MP and the Prime Minister did not assist her so she forwarded the email to me asking for my help.'
‘I believe this was because of my high-profile involvement with Justice for Families. I suggest she contact the police. There is no mention of myself or a Labour cabinet minister (whom she also accused of sex offences).’
In his statement, part of legal action he is taking against a supporter of Miss Baker, Mr Hemming alleged that prior to accusing him she tweeted that she had ‘never’ met an MP. ‘Yet only a few weeks later Baker claimed to have met two politicians – one myself … whom she claimed to have identified as the man who both raped and sexually assaulted her,’ he said.
In September, Mr Hemming told of his ordeal after Miss Baker, whom he said he had never met, accused him of being in a Westminster paedophile ring.
He said: ‘Although it was obvious from the start that the allegations were nonsense, it has taken two-and-a-half years for this to be resolved. The system is too tolerant of false allegations.’
In January 2015 Miss Baker, 35, claimed she was abused in a church setting but did not mention politicians.
She accused Mr Hemming in May that year. In September she said she had asked the Crown Prosecution Service to review its decision not to press charges.
Former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, falsely accused of child sex and murder by an alleged fantasist called ‘Nick’, said: ‘Esther Baker is discredited. It beggars belief … I always thought the IICSA would become a circus.’