Lawsuit against theatre impresario Albert Schultz 'resolved', lawyer says
Director Albert Schultz is pictured in his office, on Monday, March 20, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, August 1, 2018 9:34AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 1, 2018 4:32PM EDT
TORONTO -- Legal actions against the Soulpepper Theatre Company and its co-founder, Albert Schultz, over sexual-harassment allegations have been "resolved," representatives said Wednesday.
A lawyer representing Schultz tells The Canadian Press that lawsuits alleging he sexually harassed multiple actresses have been settled in a way that is "satisfactory" to his client. Peter Wardle declined a request for further comment.
A Soulpepper spokesperson confirmed that the legal actions had been resolved, saying the past several months have been a "challenging" period for the Toronto non-profit theatre.
"We are committed to continuing our process of renewal," Brad Lepp said in a statement.
"We are focused on ensuring not only that our policies are as strong as possible, but also that the structure and culture create a safe and respectful environment that supports all our artists and staff while maintaining the highest level of excellence in all that we do."
A lawyer for the four actresses who sued Schultz and Soulpepper said her clients had no comment beyond confirming that the "matters have settled."
In statements of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court in January, the women alleged that Schultz groped them, exposed himself, pressed against them or otherwise behaved inappropriately.
Schultz resigned hours after Kristin Booth, Hannah Miller, Diana Bentley and Patricia Fagan held a news conference to lambast him and Soulpepper.
They alleged that Soulpepper created a culture where it was difficult to make a complaint and those that did were either ignored or punished.
At the time, Schultz said he would vigorously defend himself against the allegations. Both he and Soulpepper did file notices of intent to defend in the case.
The scandal also prompted Soulpepper to part ways with Leslie Lester, Schultz's wife and the company's executive director.
The theatre company had said it was unaware of any misconduct allegations against Schultz or anyone else, having investigated as recently as the fall of 2017.
Soulpepper bills itself as Toronto's largest not-for-profit theatre company and Schultz played a key role in its repertoire.
Last month, acting artistic director Alan Dilworth said Soulpepper was in the midst of a "culture change," and announced the company would put its prestigious training academy on a one-year hold to do a review before admitting a new troupe of artists.
Nearly $2.4 million has been allocated to Soulpepper under various Canadian Heritage programs since the early 2000s, according to a February briefing note prepared for former heritage minister Melanie Joly.
This funding is separate to the roughly $185,000 a year that Soulpepper has received from the Canada Council for the Arts in the past.
In February, the arms-length Crown corporation said it was rescinding a planned funding increase for Soulpepper, but would maintain its base funding.
After reporting a $556,000 deficit for 2017, Dilworth has said Soulpepper is projecting further losses this year, but that he expected the non-profit will be in the black within two years.