Gloucester Stage Company announced Thursday that it has severed ties with its founding artistic director, Israel Horovitz, amid reports of sexual misconduct.
The New York Times published a report detailing accusations against the prominent playwright from nine women about sexual misconduct dating back to the 1980s.
Liz Neumeier, president of the Gloucester Stage board, said in a statement Thursday that Horovitz had denied the allegations and asked to meet with the board. "After he was unable to attend the meeting, he resigned and is no longer an ex-officio member of the board of directors," the statement said.
One woman told the Times that Horovitz forcefully kissed her in 1986 when she was 16 and performing in an off-Broadway production of one of his plays. Another woman said he raped her at his home when she was 19 years old and on a summer fellowship at the Gloucester Stage, which Horovitz co-founded in 1979. Horovitz, 78, is originally from Wakefield.
Horovitz told the Times that while he has "a different memory of some of these events, I apologize with all my heart to any woman who has ever felt compromised by my actions, and to my family and friends who have put their trust in me. To hear that I have caused pain is profoundly upsetting, as is the idea that I might have crossed a line with anyone who considered me a mentor."
In her statement, Neumeier said:
It is of the utmost importance that our theater home be a safe space for everyone: our actors, artistic and production teams, staff, volunteers, apprentices and patrons. It is deeply troubling that the person whose work, for decades, has been most central to GSC's mission and brand would so egregiously violate that space and put at risk the safety and welfare of those in his charge.
She continued with an acknowledgment that women's accusations against Horovitz were "grossly mishandled" in the past and said the board will "take any reports seriously."
A 1993 report in the now-defunct Boston Phoenix detailed allegations from six women involved with the Gloucester Stage of sexual harassment against Horovitz. According to the Phoenix, the theater company's board president at the time dismissed the complaints it received about Horovitz, saying they didn't fit the "legal interpretation of the charge of sexual harassment."