The Board of Directors of Kansas City children's theatre The Coterie has released a further statement following a number of allegations of sexual assault against former Producing Artistic Director Jeff Church, who was found dead in his home December 24 hours after his resignation from the company was made public. The theatre says the investigation into the allegations, announced prior to Church's resignation and death, will "fervently continue" and that the theatre is "reviewing [its] policies and procedures."
Reads the statement: "For those brave souls who publicly spoke their truth: we see you. We hear you. We support you as you work to heal from unimaginable pain. We hope you are uplifted by the love and support of the arts community that surrounds you." The statement is included in full below.
Allegations against Church were first made public in a since-deleted Facebook video from Florida actor Dashawn Young, who shared a disturbing story of assault from 2017, when Young was 22. Young told Kansas City news outlet The Pitch he was inspired to take his experience public by seeing Harvey Weinstein in the news again; the disgraced film executive and Broadway producer was recently found guilty on additional charges of sexual assault in a Los Angeles trial.
Young's video would turn out to be the first of many, with the theatre initially responding December 23 by placing Church on administrative leave and announcing an investigation would be conducted via a third-party investigator. News of Church's resignation and death came the day after.
Read The Coterie Board of Directors' statement in full below:
Our Coterie Theatre community—and the broader Kansas City arts community—are processing countless emotions following this terribly tragic series of events.
For those brave souls who publicly spoke their truth: we see you. We hear you. We support you as you work to heal from unimaginable pain. We hope you are uplifted by the love and support of the arts community that surrounds you.
To our Coterie staff, volunteers, artists, and patrons, we thank you for your endless dedication to our craft, and for leaning into what is beautiful about the arts: its ability to bring people together for experiences that can inspire, educate, enlighten, and at times, offer their own source of healing.
At this time, the cast of A Charlie Brown Christmas has decided they would like to continue to perform the remaining shows for this week. Our mission together compels us—even in the hardest of times—to deliver our art and continue to make a positive impact on our audiences. We thank them for their commitment and ask for grace for our Coterie community during this difficult time.
An independent investigation into allegations of abuse by our former producing artistic director against Coterie staff or cast members will fervently continue. If you have claims of misconduct against Coterie staff or cast members, we encourage you to contact [email protected].
We are reviewing our policies and procedures and remain unequivocally and passionately committed to a safe and healthy, supportive working environment. Our staff, artists, and board members are on a journey to ensure that our actions continue to be an expression of our shared values.
We are grateful to live in a committed community of people who believe not only in the power of the arts, but who also believe in the power of supporting and caring for each other.