Four artists announce resignations after Soulpepper artistic director Albert Schultz denies abuse allegations

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      One of the most influential figures in Toronto's theatre world says he'll "vehemently defend" himself against a sexual-harassment lawsuit filed by four female actors.

      Albert Schultz, artistic director of Soulpepper Theatre Company, has taken a leave of absence after court documents were filed alleging he's a "serial sexual predator".

      "These claims make serious allegations against me, which I do not take lightly," Schultz said in a statement.

      His wife, Soulpepper executive director Leslie Lester, has also taken a leave of absence.

      None of the claims against Schultz have been proven in court.

      The Soulpepper board has installed associate artistic director Alan Dilworth as acting artistic director.

      Meanwhile, four artists have announced their resignations from Soulpepper to show their solidarity with the plaintiffs.

      St. Lawrence Barristers LLP said in a statement that Ted Dykstra, Stuart Hughes, Michelle Monteith, and Rick Roberts "believe the allegations made by these women".

      Dykstra is one of Soulpepper's founding members.

      "The four artists support the choice of Alan Dilworth as Acting Artistic Director, but until Mr. Schultz has no role with the Company, they will not work there," the law firm said.

      The four artists will join the plaintiffs at a news conference this morning in Toronto.

      Soulpepper was founded in 1998 to produce lesser known theatrical classicals. It's Toronto's largest nonprofit theatre company and has won many awards.

      It's also focused a great deal of attention on promoting youth involvement in the arts.

      In 2015, Soulpepper announced a five-year plan and $10-million capital campaign to build a national civic theatre.