Ben Vereen has issued an apology for “inappropriate conduct” while directing a theatrical production of “Hair” in 2015. Two women, Kaitlyn Terpstra and Kim (who chose not to reveal her last name), told the New York Daily News that they were lured into Vereen’s hot tub while he was naked and that he forced one of them to perform oral sex on him.
“I would like to apologize directly to the female cast members of the musical ‘Hair’ for my inappropriate conduct when I directed the production in 2015,” the 71-year-old Tony winner said in a statement. “While it was my intention to create an environment that replicated the themes of that musical during the rehearsal process, I have since come to understand that it is my conduct, not my intentions, which are relevant here. So I am not going to make any excuses because the only thing that matters here is acknowledging and apologizing for the effects of my conduct on the lives of these women.”
Vereen’s statement continued, “Going forward, my having come to terms with my past conduct will inform all my future interactions not only with women, but with all individuals. I hope these women will find it in their hearts to accept my sincere apology and forgive me.”
Vereen has earned acclaim for a long career on stage and screen, including Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz” and the landmark miniseries “Roots.”
“He basically told both of us, ‘Get over yourself. Nudity doesn’t have to be sexual.’ If we asked questions or hesitated, we were the ones making it weird,” Kim told the Daily News, adding that she “didn’t feel like I had a choice. “I didn’t want to do it, but I was intimidated and scared. He was being very intense and angry. He seemed very angry and offended.