Accusations of Sexual Harassment Rock Greek Arts World

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ATHENS — Lower than a month after allegations of sexual assault by a Greek Olympic crusing champion spurred a nationwide counting on a subject lengthy thought-about taboo, the Greek arts world has been swept up in a torrent of accusations and denials.

Plenty of well-known actors and administrators have been accused of harassment or assault and faraway from high-profile productions. The creative director of the nation’s prestigious Nationwide Theater resigned amid a barrage of experiences accusing him of sexual abuse and harassment, which he has furiously denied.

The majority of the accusations — from males in addition to girls — have surfaced in media experiences. Prosecutors in Athens are dealing with essentially the most severe instances and have vowed to analyze all credible allegations.

A judicial official, who would communicate solely on the situation of anonymity, mentioned he anticipated there to be extra instances, though it was unclear what number of would go to trial, given the passage of time because the alleged incidents and a scarcity of proof.

The storm of accusations in opposition to family names and revered figures within the Greek arts world is available in considered one of Europe’s most conservative societies, the place such abuses have lengthy been whispered about however by no means overtly mentioned, not to mention prosecuted.

Final month, Sofia Bekatorou, an Olympic crusing champion in 2004 and one of many nation’s hottest athletes, publicly accused a prime crusing official of sexually abusing her in 1998. It was the primary high-profile accusation of sexual assault and abuse of energy in Greece because the #MeToo motion rocked the established energy constructions in lots of different nations.

Her resolution to talk out opened the floodgates for related claims and has spurred an uncharacteristically open and passionate debate about sexual harassment and abuse in Greece, the place, research recommend, as much as 9 in 10 girls face unwelcome advances in media, sports activities, politics and different male-dominated sectors.

On this planet of the performing arts, professionals say, the issue is acute, and males are being focused too.

The Greek actors’ union has acquired lots of of telephone calls in latest days from professionals alleging abuse.

Spyros Bibilas, the top of the union, informed Greek tv that actors have referred to as him “sobbing,” including that most of the alleged episodes occurred throughout Greece’s decade-long monetary disaster, when job insecurity peaked and other people had been notably weak.

In an announcement earlier this month, one other union representing drama college students at Greece’s Nationwide Theater denounced “numerous instances of office bullying and sexist violence” in addition to racism, homophobia and different types of discrimination.

In response to the complaints, Greece’s tradition ministry mentioned it was overseeing an initiative to create a code of conduct for state-owned cultural establishments. The ministry has urged the nationwide actors’ union to report any cases of abuse to the authorities.

“There may be zero tolerance towards the abuse of energy, sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination, and all types of violence,” the deputy minister for Up to date Tradition, Nicholas Yatromanolakis, mentioned in an e mail. “The cultural area is and may stay a spot the place desires, not nightmares, come true.”

However a few of the most high-profile figures who’ve been accused of abuse say they’re victims of public hysteria, the place guilt is presumed.

The creative director of the nation’s prestigious Nationwide Theater, Dimitris Lignadis, resigned on Feb. 6 after experiences suggesting that he sexually harassed younger actors. He denied these experiences. Since he stepped down, extra experiences of sexual abuse have been leveled in opposition to him.

In his letter of resignation, which was made public by the tradition ministry, Mr. Lignadis referred to a “poisonous local weather of rumors.”

His lawyer, Nikos Georgouleas, mentioned Mr. Lignadis was being unfairly focused and vilified. Since his resignation, posters together with his photograph have been plastered on bus stops in central Athens, warning that he’ll “pay for all the pieces.”

“He appears like he’s within the eye of this storm, with new rumors rising each day,” Mr. Georgouleas mentioned by phone, including that Mr. Lignadis was able to “supply any explanations mandatory” to prosecutors.

Messages despatched to the Fb accounts of different performing professionals dealing with accusations weren’t answered, and additional efforts to achieve them had been unsuccessful.

Harrys Tzortzakis, considered one of three male actors who’ve accused the movie director Costas Zapas of sexual harassment, spoke of an “omerta” within the business, utilizing the phrase for the Mafia’s code of silence.

In an announcement on his Fb web page on Jan. 30, Mr. Zapas rebutted the claims.

“I’ve by no means pressured anybody to conduct themselves in a approach that they don’t want,” he wrote.

Mr. Tzortzakis informed Greek tv final week, “We’re terrified of naming names in case they sue us or who is aware of what else.” He referred to as on the Tradition Ministry to make it clear that it stands by victims.

Three actresses issued a joint assertion in late January accusing Kostas Spyropoulos, an actor and director, of sexual harassment. He issued an announcement to Greek media via his lawyer apologizing for offending anybody, then sought an injunction in opposition to Greek tv channels to bar them from mentioning his identify at the side of the airing of the assertion, saying it was false and violated his rights.

Jenny Botsi, one of many three actresses, expressed gratitude to Ms. Bekatorou for breaking a broader silence. Ms. Botsi was considered one of many who mentioned Ms. Bekatorou had impressed them to come back ahead.

“She doesn’t know the way a lot good she’s accomplished,” Ms. Botsi informed Greek tv. “She’s opened up a highway and fortunately we’ve grasped the chance.”

Seven actresses have accused one other outstanding director and actor, George Kimoulis, of verbal and bodily abuse, although not sexual harassment. He has rejected the accusations as “unacceptable and false,” and is suing not less than one of many actresses.

Nonetheless, organizers of the favored Athens and Epidaurus Pageant have eliminated Mr. Kimoulis from a play scheduled to be staged on the historical Epidaurus theater this summer season.

In an announcement, the organizers mentioned they acted due to “the heavy shadow of latest developments.”

Whereas the general public accusations and subsequent departures have precipitated turmoil within the arts world, it remained unclear if they’d ever be litigated within the courts.

The principle downside for the accusers, in response to authorized consultants, is that most of the alleged abuses date again years and prosecution could also be restricted by the nation’s statute of limitations.

Underneath Greek legislation, rape will be prosecuted for as much as 15 years. As for sexual harassment, the offense expires three months after the incident if authorized motion will not be taken.

Though a debate has began about amending the legislation to bolster safety for victims of intercourse crimes, authorized consultants mentioned it appeared unlikely that the federal government would make any sweeping modifications.

Even Ms. Bekatorou’s case, which set off the present wave of accusations, has been shelved by prosecutors.

Ms. Bekatorou mentioned that was why it was vital for victims to “break their silence directly.”

President Katerina Sakellaropoulou of Greece expressed her “nice concern” concerning the wave of accusations.

“The one main advantage of this tough interval for the theater, and for different areas of the humanities and different sectors, is the shaking off of concern,” she mentioned. It was equally vital, she mentioned, that justice is delivered “so as to restore the dignity and the affect of personalities and establishments that society wants a lot.”

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