Soulpepper lawsuits against co-founder Albert Schultz ‘resolved’
Peter Wardle, the lawyer representing Schultz, said legal actions against the Soulpepper Theatre co-founder have been settled “in a way that is satisfactory to him,” but didn’t provide any further details.
Schultz resigned from Soulpepper in January amid the allegations by Kristin Booth, Patricia Fagan, Diana Bentley and Hannah Miller, who each named Schultz and Soulpepper in their statements of claim. In total, the women sought damages of $4.25 million from Soulpepper and $3.6 million from Schultz. At the time, he denied the allegations and said he planned to defend himself against the claims.
“Legal actions commenced against Soulpepper on January 3, 2018 have been resolved,” read a statement from Soulpepper to Global News’ Sean O’Shea. “The past several months have been a challenging time for our organization. However, Soulpepper has always been a collective community of artists and supporters, and we are committed to continuing our process of renewal.
“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.”
Toronto Life reported that on the second day of mediation in May, the four claimants were asked by their lawyer, Alexi Wood, to write down the lowest possible dollar amount they would settle for. All sides were allegedly “exhausted,” and all parties signed non-disclosure agreements barring them from discussing any aspect of the case publicly.
The publication quotes a source “close to the case,” who said that the settlement to each woman covered her legal fees and a small payout in the “low thousands.” As they stated at the outset of the lawsuits, each actress plans to donate their settlement to charity.
The women described Schultz as a “serial sexual predator” in their lawsuits, and alleged he groped them, harassed them and made unwanted sexual remarks to them in the 2000 – 2013 time frame.
“Albert is a serial sexual predator who had well-developed methods for targeting actresses and luring them into situations that he considered optimal for sexually harassing and assaulting them,” read a statement of claim. The plaintiffs went on to accuse Soulpepper of allowing these alleged crimes to go on unabated.
“Mr. Schultz abused his power for years. My clients fully intend to hold him and Soulpepper Theatre Company accountable. Their brave lawsuit is the first step towards righting this incredible wrong,” said Wood at the time.
Schultz, 55, co-founded Soulpepper, the city’s largest not-for-profit theatre company, in 1998 along with 11 others. He is a member of the Order of Canada and has starred in Canadian TV series like Street Legal and Alias Grace.
Soulpepper said they were unaware of any allegations of misconduct against Schultz or anyone else, having conducted investigations into the issue as recently as the fall of 2017.
The scandal also prompted Soulpepper to part ways with Leslie Lester, Schultz’s wife and the company’s executive director.
In October 2017, longtime Soulpepper guest artist and director Laszlo Marton was fired from the company after many allegations of sexual harassment were reported against him in 2016.
The company said, at the time, that it was “dedicated to creating a safe place of belonging.”
For its 2018-19 season, the company is putting a spotlight on female and minority voices.
— With files from The Canadian PressFollow @CJancelewicz
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