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Sault native among women accusing theatre star Albert Schultz of sex assault

The four women who have filed lawsuits against Schultz were expected to speak today
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2017-10-21 AFF Soulpepper Riverboat Coffee House DMH-1
Artistic Director Albert Schultz introduces 'Riverboat Coffee House: The Yorkville Scene', a Soulpepper production presented by the Algoma Fall Festival at The Machine Shop on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Donna Hopper/SooToday

TORONTO — Four women who have filed sexual assault and harassment lawsuits against a prominent figure in Canadian theatre and the well-known company he co-founded will speak out today at a news conference in Toronto.

The lawsuits naming Toronto-based Soulpepper Theatre Company and its founding artistic director Albert Schultz were filed this week by Patricia Fagan, a Sault Ste. Marie native, Hannah Miller, Kristin Booth and Diana Bentley, who have all agreed to be named publicly.

In the lawsuits, the actresses allege the 54-year-old Schultz exposed himself, groped them, and otherwise sexually humiliated them.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Soulpepper's board of directors said Wednesday that Schultz will be off the job pending an investigation and his wife, executive-director Leslie Lester, has volunteered to step down in the interim.

Schultz, who is also an executive producer on the hit CBC television series "Kim's Convenience," says he will defend himself "vehemently."

Schultz is no stranger to Sault Ste. Marie. In the fall he appeared alongside Algoma University Chancellor Shirley Horn during a presentation on truth, art and reconciliation as part of the Algoma Fall Festival. In 2015, he performed his Frankly Sinatra tribute show as part of the festival.

The lawsuits come as the entertainment industry grapples with growing allegations of sexual harassment and assault, a wave sparked by accusations that emerged against Hollywood giant Harvey Weinstein in the fall.

The Canadian Press