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Entertainment Vancouver actor refutes sexual harassment claims

21:36  09 march  2018
21:36  09 march  2018 Source:   vancouversun.com

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Local actor Michael Coleman, who stepped down from his position as director of a Vancouver art school last month, says allegations of sexual harassment made against him are “unfounded and defamatory.”.

A Vancouver -based actor , filmmaker and director who stepped down last month from the arts school he co-founded, amid allegations of sexual harassment , that Coleman said another accusation stems from a fan of the show Once Upon a Time who claims he sent her an inappropriate twitter message.

Coleman photo© PNG File Coleman photo

Local actor Michael Coleman, who stepped down from his position as director of a Vancouver art school last month,  says allegations of sexual harassment made against him are “unfounded and defamatory.”

Coleman, who plays Happy the dwarf in the popular TV series Once Upon a Time, held a news conference in Vancouver with his wife Michelle early Friday to dispute the allegations. He told reporters that he’s received a lot of support from people in the film and television industry.

He said the issues arose after the Union of BC Performers held a town hall meeting last October in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein/#MeToo movement inviting women to discuss sexual harassment in the entertainment industry.  He claims at the meeting, one woman made allegations about him, and three others came forward later.

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After a Vancouver press conference on Friday during which he claimed he'd "done nothing wrong," Coleman addressed four separate allegations of sexual harassment during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Vancouver lawyer J.J. McIntyre told The Hollywood Reporter he represents multiple clients who have claims of sexual harassment against The Vancouver -based Coleman is a veteran actor on locally produced TV series, including Supernatural, Smallville, Fringe, Stargate, Blood Ties and Eureka.

“All the allegations are from 10 years ago and this is the next thing to an anonymous attack on my reputation with no one stepping forward to say publicly that I did anything wrong,” he said.

“I am saying publicly that I have done nothing wrong.”

Coleman said one woman who made allegations has since written a letter to the union in support of the actor, stating there never was inappropriate conduct.  He adds that a complaint from a second woman involves a fake Twitter account that he had nothing to do with and the suggestion of inappropriate conduct from two other women “are not true.”

He has been forced to cancel appearances in his TV role and believes the unfounded allegations could harm or end his ability to earn a living as an actor.

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A Vancouver -based actor well known for his role as "Happy" the dwarf in the hit TV series Once Upon A Time has stepped down from the private arts institute he co-owned after staff became aware of an allegation of sexual harassment dating back to 2009.

“My family is faced with the prospect of losing our home if I am blacklisted in the film industry,” he said.

The married father of two said he has consulted with a Vancouver defamation lawyer and is considering legal action to defend his reputation.

“My own union organized a meeting that encouraged its members to come forward and now it has branded me a sexual predator, even though none of the women will go public with any allegations,” he said.

Last month, Coleman stepped down as artistic director of SchoolCreative: Institute of the Arts in Vancouver. At the time, he said that decision had nothing to do with “unfounded” allegations of sexual harassment.

Scott Gamble, the art school’s admissions director, said the allegations against Coleman did not involve any students at the school and predated his involvement with SchoolCreative. He said about 14 teachers, who had left their positions after the allegations against Coleman surfaced, returned to the school.

Vancouver lawyer J.J. McIntyre told CBC that several clients had come forward with claims of sexual harassment against the actor. In a statement to Postmedia, McIntyre would not say how many clients had come forward, and said “the goal is not for compensation but to prevent a harm to someone else.”

None of the allegations against Coleman has been proven in court.

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