ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - For more than 30 years, Laura Adams has lived with the secret of what happened when she was 15, starring in Mr. Pickwick’s Christmas at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis. The man she could not tear out of her memory was Jason McLean, the adult actor, who she says raped her.
“I didn't tell my parents until 2 months ago,” Adams said.
A lawsuit filed this week revives a dark chapter for the Children’s Theatre Company, when its artistic director was convicted of molesting teenage boys, promising them starring roles in exchange for sex. John Clark Donahue served just 10 months in the country workhouse, even though he would later admit to molesting 16 boys. Many of the assaults happened at Donahue’s home directly behind the theater, where his still lives. To many, he was both monster and mentor.
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Jason McLean, who was also an acting instructor, was never charged back then, not even mentioned publicly. Today McLean is a well-known entrepreneur behind the Loring Pasta Bar and Varsity Theater in Dinkytown. According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Adams was one of 3 teenagers he molested, coercing others to keep quiet.
“Jason saw opportunity and utilized it,” Adams said.
Even attorney Jeff Anderson admits the Children’s Theatre Company has since become a model in how to protect young people. In a statement, CTC acknowledges the painful history, saying “We have a responsibility to defend the Theatre from allegations that we think are misdirected. We do not believe that the Theatre was negligent in its conduct.”
Yet, the theatre board kept the criminal investigation secret for 2 years, and allowed Donahue and McLean to continue working for a time. Adams, for one, believes a reckoning is due.
“Children tear up pictures. Adults file lawsuits,” she said. “Not everyone’s got courage. I gotcha. I'm doing this.”
Statement of Children’s Theatre Company
December 1, 2015
“Any abuse of a child is a terrible act; it goes against everything we believe in as professionals and as human beings. We stand with the victims of abuse in their desire to see justice done and to have the truth be known. The crimes and misconduct of Mr. Donahue and the allegations against Mr. McLean date back to the 1980s, but there is no time limit on our abhorrence of such actions.
“Over the last three decades, we have created a comprehensive set of practices designed to keep children safe. Those practices have worked and they continue to be a centerpiece of our culture and our day-to-day activities. This is an area in which we will never say ‘Enough’ but will instead strive to be better today than we were yesterday and even better tomorrow.
“At the same time, however, we have a responsibility to defend the Theatre from allegations that we think are misdirected. Such is the case here. Based on what we know today, we do not believe that the Theatre was negligent in its conduct. We will advocate for ourselves and our point of view as this case proceeds, yet we will do so with the knowledge that individuals in pain are at the heart of this matter and with respect for those who believe other than as we do.”
Statement for Jason McLean
“Jason McLean was sued yesterday by the office of Jeff Anderson. Mr. McLean is very surprised that allegations made against him 35 years ago when he was an actor at the Children’s Theater have been raised again in 2015. These same allegations were made in 1982 and were investigated by the BCA and by the Children’s Theater at that time. After the allegations were investigated in 1982, he resumed his work as an actor at the Children’s Theater. No complaint of any kind has ever been brought against Mr. McLean. Mr. McLean had no involvement in or knowledge of the activities for which John Donahue was convicted in 1984. Mr. McLean intends to defend against this lawsuit with all his might and to clear his name.”