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Sexual Harassment Scandal Reaches Broadway, Now Veteran Actor Ben Vereen Is Accused

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Ben Vereen owned up to the behavior of which he was accused. (Mike Pont/WireImage)


Broadway veteran Ben Vereen has apologized after accusations of sexual harassment have been levied against him. The 71-year-old Tony winner has apologized after several women told The New York Daily News Friday, Jan. 5 he sexually abused them.

In 2015, the “Roots” actor, then 69, directed a production of “Hair” at Venice Theatre near Tampa, Fla. Actresses claimed he invited them to his rental home for “private rehearsals.” There, he got them naked and hosted them in his hot tub. He also had the actresses disrobe during rehearsals, as the musical about the sexual revolution does include nude scenes.

“I would like to apologize directly to the female cast members of the musical ‘Hair’ for my inappropriate conduct when I directed the production in 2015,” he said in a statement issued to various media outlets. “While it was my intention to create an environment that replicated the themes of that musical during the rehearsal process, I have since come to understand that it is my conduct, not my intentions, which are relevant here.

“So I am not going to make any excuses because the only thing that matters here is acknowledging and apologizing for the effects of my conduct on the lives of these women. Going forward, my having come to terms with my past conduct will inform all my future interactions not only with women but with all individuals. I hope these women will find it in their hearts to accept my sincere apology and forgive me.”

Actress Kaitlyn Terpstra, then 22, alleged Vereen told her three years ago that “nudity was not inherently sexual.” Another actress, Terpstra’s friend Kim, then 23, agreed.

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While in the tub, Vereen asked personal questions geared toward “creative breakthroughs,” the NYDN reported.

Terpstra said she sat on his lap crying when the actor allegedly asked if she felt his erect penis.
“He asked me, ‘Feel that?’ It was terrifying,” she claimed. “I said, ‘Feel what?’ I wanted to act like I didn’t. I pushed myself off with a laugh. Then later, he asked, ‘Do you think I want to f— you?’ I said ‘Yes,’ and he got angry. He said, ‘Well, I don’t, and that’s unfortunate.’ He made me feel like I had my mind in the gutter.”
As for Kim, she wound up obliging to giving Vereen oral sex and said she felt “confused.”
Venice Theatre told NYDN they became aware of Vereen’s alleged actions when they came across Terpstra’s November Facebook post.
“We have learned recently that during our 2015 production of ‘Hair,’ more than one female cast member was asked to join Mr. Vereen at his residence,” executive director Murray Chase said in a statement to the publication. “Some of those visits resulted in compromising situations for at least two of the actresses.
“We are working to strengthen our sexual harassment policies and procedures, including the reporting of them, to prevent any future occurrences,” he said.
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