Ben Vereen Apologizes For “Inappropriate Conduct” During 2015 Community Theater Production


Tony-winning actor Ben Vereen has apologized for “inappropriate conduct” toward female cast members in a 2015 Florida community theater production of Hair.

His tweeted apology originally was provided to the New York Daily News for the paper’s report today that Vereen forced kisses and other physical contact on women in the cast; made lewd propositions; and “made degrading comments about their weight, sex appeal and personal lives,” often while invoking the free-spirited message of that quintessential 1960s musical.

“While it was my intention to create an environment that replicated the themes of that musical during the rehearsal process,” Vereen tweeted, “I have since come to understand that it is my conduct, not my intentions, which are relevant here.”

He ends the lengthy post with, “I hope these women will find it in their hearts to accept my sincere apology and forgive me.”

Read the entire statement below.

The Daily News story details Vereen’s actions toward several women during the Tampa-area Venice Theatre community production. “Two of the actresses told the Daily News that Vereen lured them to his Florida rental home on separate occasions in September 2015 under the guise of ‘private rehearsals.’ Then he pressed his erect penis into their legs without warning.”

The two women were 22 and 23 at the time; Vereen was 68.

“He was acting as my mentor, asking me about my parents, then that same night, he put me on his lap while I was crying, and I felt his erection,” Kaitlyn Terpstra told the Daily News. “He asked me, ‘Feel that?’ It was terrifying. I said, ‘Feel what?’ I wanted to act like I didn’t. I pushed myself off with a laugh. Then later, he asked, ‘Do you think I want to f-ck you?’ I said ‘Yes,’ and he got angry. He said, ‘Well, I don’t, and that’s unfortunate.’ He made me feel like I had my mind in the gutter.”

The other actress, identified only as Kim, is quoted in the Daily News as saying of Vereen’s apology: “It’s nice, but I’m not sure I believe it. Those words aren’t going to take back everything he did. I confronted him in that last phone conversation [in 2015], and he was like, ‘How dare you say that?’”

Vereen, who won a 1973 Tony for Pippin and appeared as a replacement in the original 1968 Broadway production of Hair, probably is best known to TV audiences for his performance as Chicken George in 1977’s Roots. He went on to appear in All That Jazz and star alongside Jeff Goldblum in the 1980 series Tenspeed and Brownshoe.

Here is the actor’s full statement:


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