Trial in lawsuit against Children's Theatre Company wraps up

Children's Theatre
The Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis.
Jeff Jones | MPR file photo

The Children's Theatre Company is defending itself against charges it failed to protect a teenager of sexual assault by an employee. The trial wrapped up Wednesday.

The main plaintiff in the lawsuit alleges she was sexually assaulted in 1983 by Jason McLean, who was an instructor at the Minneapolis school at the time. McLean didn't testify during the trial and has denied the charge.

In his nearly hour-and-a-half-long closing argument, attorney Jeff Anderson portrayed the theater's leaders as being more interested in protecting the company than the children in its charge.

Anderson, who is known for his dogged representation of clergy sex abuse survivors as well as lawsuits against the theater, ticked off a list of 23 "choices" made by the Children's Theatre Company which made it possible for his client to be assaulted.

"Each, alone is evidence of general negligent supervision," said Anderson, who later asked jurors to award his client $10.3 million in damages.

The company's attorney Theresa Bevilacqua said staff heard one complaint that McLean was acting in a lewd manner with some of the female students. "He was told to apologize and he stopped the behavior," said Bevilacqua. "His supervisors acted reasonably."

Bevilacqua added that the theater company could not be held responsible for the actions of one its employees.

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