Playwright Israel Horovitz accused of rape, other sexual misconduct

(JTA) — Nine women have accused playwright Israel Horovitz of sexual misconduct, including rape, in incidents dating back at least four decades.

The women cited by The New York Times in an article published Thursday also accused Horovitz of inappropriate advances and sexual assault. Many of the women were teenagers at the time of the incidents.

Horovitz, 78, has written more than 70 plays in a career spanning over 50 years and is the founding artistic director of Gloucester Stage, a respected regional theater. He divides his time between the United States and France. He is the father of Beastie Boys band member Adam Horovitz.

Among his best known plays are “Line,” “Park Your Car in Harvard Yard,” “The Primary English Class,” “The Widow’s Blind Date” and “The Indian Wants the Bronx.” He also wrote screenplays.

“The nine women who spoke with The Times described Mr. Horovitz as a complicated man who was, at times, a charismatic mentor and empathic friend,” The Times wrote. “He taught at several universities and nurtured young writers, was generous with his wisdom and dazzled with tales of his famous friends.”

Horovitz responded to the newspaper that while he has “a different memory of some of these events, I apologize with all my heart to any woman who has ever felt compromised by my actions, and to my family and friends who have put their trust in me. To hear that I have caused pain is profoundly upsetting, as is the idea that I might have crossed a line with anyone who considered me a mentor.”

Adam Horovitz backed the women.

“I believe the allegations against my father are true,” he said in a statement, “and I stand behind the women that made them.”

The Gloucester Stage cut ties with Horovitz last week as at least one of the accusations surfaced. In 1993, the Boston Phoenix published an article in which 10 unnamed women accused Horovitz of sexual harassment and assault. At the time the Gloucester Stage board’s president, Barry Weiner, dismissed the allegations and described some of the accusers cited as “tightly wound.”

On Thursday, the current Gloucester Stage board president, Liz Neumeier, released a statement announcing that Horovitz had resigned as the organization’s founding artistic director.

“When we recently learned that our founding artistic director, Israel Horovitz, has been accused of sexually assaulting a young actor in NYC – repeating conduct he allegedly engaged in here at GSC decades ago — we were appalled,” Neumeier said in the statement. “Israel denied the allegations and asked to meet with the full Board. After he was unable to attend the meeting, he resigned and is no longer an ex-officio member of the board of directors.

“Our hearts go out to the many women who are, once again, reliving the harassment and assaults they endured. We recognize that in the past their reports were grossly mishandled. The Board is united and committed to ensuring that such behavior does not take place at Gloucester Stage and we will take any reports seriously.”

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