‘Alias Grace’ Actor, Theater Director Albert Schultz Sued by 4 Women: ‘Serial Sexual Predator’

Patricia Fagan, Kristin Booth, Diana Bentley and Hannah Miller have filed separate civil suits against Schultz and Soulpepper Theatre Company

Albert Schultz, the artistic director and co-founder of Canada’s Soulpepper Theatre Company, has been accused of sexual assault by four women in separate civil lawsuits.

The four actresses, Patricia Fagan, Kristin Booth, Diana Bentley and Hannah Miller, filed their lawsuits in Ontario Superior Court on Tuesday, accusing Schultz of repeatedly groping and kissing women without their permission and exposing himself to them on stage.

In total, the women are seeking 3.6 million Canadian dollars, or $2.9 million, in damages from Schultz, as well as 4.3 million Canadian dollars, or $3.4 million, from the theatre company, which they say enabled his behavior and did nothing to protect them.

“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,” the women’s lawyer Alexi Wood said in a statement.

The four actresses accuse Schultz of misbehavior spanning 13 years, labeling him a “serial sexual predator” in each case.

“[Schultz] had well-developed methods for targeting actresses and luring them into situations that he considered optimal for sexually harassing and assaulting them,” all four statements of claim read. “These methods regularly involved Soulpepper staff and were otherwise facilitated by Soulpepper.”

Schultz co-founded Soulpepper, Toronto’s largest nonprofit theater company, with 11 other people in 1998. He remains artistic director and head of its training program Soulpepper Academy. He has also appeared on a number of Canadian TV series, most recently Netflix/CBC’s Margaret Atwood adaptation “Alias Grace.”

Soulpepper’s board of directors issued a statement on Wednesday, saying Schultz had been instructed to step down from all of his positions at the company as it opens an investigation into his behavior. Executive Director Leslie Lester, Schultz’s wife, has also taken a voluntary leave of absence.

On Wednesday night, Schultz agreed to step aside during the investigation, effective immediately. In a statement to Canada’s CBC, he added, “These claims make serious allegations against me which I do not take lightly. Over the coming time period, I intend to vehemently defend myself.”

Read the theater company’s full statement below:

Soulpepper Theatre Company confirms that, today, it received statements of claim from four actors regarding a number of workplace issues including allegations against the organization’s Artistic Director Albert Schultz.

The Board of Directors has commenced an immediate investigation. The board has further instructed Mr. Schultz to step down from all his Soulpepper responsibilities while this investigation takes place. Executive Director Leslie Lester has also agreed to take a voluntary leave of absence for the duration of the investigation.

The Board of Directors has asked Associate Artistic Director Alan Dilworth to assume the role of Acting Artistic Director. Sarah Farrell, General Counsel and Director of HR, will oversee all human resources matters and represent management during this process, reporting to the Executive Committee directly. Tania Senewiratne, General Manager, will oversee all production-related activity at Soulpepper and Lisa Hamel, Director of Finance, will oversee all other administrative activity at Soulpepper.

As a responsible organization, Soulpepper’s priority is to create a workplace where all its employees feel safe. It therefore takes all allegations of harassment very seriously. It has policies and procedures in place that prohibit harassment anywhere in its workspace, and that provide a clear process to report harassment, in a safe, private and respectful way

In fact, Soulpepper has recently commissioned and received a report from an independent workplace policy expert, which affirms the appropriateness of Soulpepper’s standards and processes.

As this is now a matter of ongoing litigation, Soulpepper will have no further comment at this time.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.