Ben Vereen Apologizes for ‘Inappropriate Conduct’ With Actresses on 2015 Stage Production

One actress says “Roots” star pressured her into oral sex

Last Updated: January 5, 2018 @ 8:46 AM

Tony winner and TV star Ben Vereen has apologized for “inappropriate conduct” during a 2015 stage production of “Hair” at The Venice Theater in Florida.

“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,” Vereen, now 71, said in a statement.

“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,” the statement continued. “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,” the statement concluded. “I hope these women will find it in their hearts to accept my sincere apology and forgive me.”

Vereen’s apology comes after actresses Kaitlyn Terpstra and Kim (who asked to be identified only by first name) told the New York Daily News that Vereen lured them while naked into his hot tub and then pressed his erect penis on them.

“He gave this whole speech about how nudity was not inherently sexual. ‘That’s not what it’s about.’ He made me feel that if I wasn’t mature enough to understand that, I wasn’t mature enough to be in ‘Hair,'” Terpstra told the Daily News.

“He basically told both of us, ‘Get over yourself. Nudity doesn’t have to be sexual.’ If we asked questions or hesitated, we were the ones making it weird,” Kim added.

Kim also said that once in the hot tub, Vereen asked her to perform oral sex on him and she did because she “didn’t feel like I had a choice.”

“I didn’t want to do it, but I was intimidated and scared. He was being very intense and angry. He seemed very angry and offended. I had seen him behave this way toward others in the tribe during circle,” she said in the Daily News report.

The Venice Theatre told The Daily News that the theater attempted to reach all 32 cast members from that production of “Hair,” and that “learned recently that during our 2015 production of Hair, more than one female cast member was asked to join Mr. Vereen at his residence.”

“Some of those visits resulted in compromising situations for at least two of the actresses,” Executive Director Murray Chase said in a statement to the Daily News. “We are working to strengthen our sexual harassment policies and procedures, including the reporting of them, to prevent any future occurrences.”

The theater did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Vereen is a longtime performer on stage and screen — a dancer, and singer who has a long list of Broadway stage credits as well as TV and film credits, which include the 1979 Oscar winning film “All That Jazz,” the hit 1977 TV miniseries “Roots,” and various TV shows including “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Hot in Cleveland,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and “Webster.”

See Vereen’s full statement below:

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. 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.”