Broadway legend Ben Vereen has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and harassment during the 2015 production of "Hair."
Several actresses detailed the sexually abusive behavior they say they suffered at the hands of Vereen including unwanted kissing, inviting women to join him naked in his hot tub and making demeaning and degrading comments towards them in an expose published by the New York Daily News on Friday.
Two of the actresses from the 2015 production told the Daily News that Vereen invited them on separate occasions to his Florida rental home for "private rehearsals." He then pressed his erect penis against them without permission.
"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. 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," Vereen told Fox News in a statement. "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. 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."
Kaitlyn Terpstra, who was 22-years-old at the time, said Vereen told her "nudity was not inherently sexual" in order to convince her to get in his hot tub without clothes.
"He made me feel that if I wasn't mature enough to understand that, I wasn’t mature enough to be in 'Hair,'" Terpstra said.
A second woman who asked to be identified by her first name only said she had the same experience as Terpstra.
"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 said.
Terpstra and Kim said Vereen, who was just shy of 69 at the time, began asking them personal questions aimed to help them reach "creative breakthroughs."
"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," Terpstra alleged.
"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."
"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--k 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."
Kim said Vereen asked her to perform oral sex on him when they were in the hot tub and she agreed.
"I just think at the time, I 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. I had seen him behave this way toward others...during [rehearsals]," she recalled.
Several cast members told the Daily News that Vereen stripped naked during a rehearsal of a nude scene in "Hair," a musical that does typically include several nude scenes.
"It was uncomfortable, to say the least," Ariella Pizarro said. She also accused the actor of forcibly kissing her and sending her inappropriate text messages.