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 depending on a subject lengthy thought-about taboo, the Greek arts world has been swept up in a torrent of accusations and denials.

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

The majority of the accusations — from males in addition to ladies — have surfaced in media reviews. Prosecutors in Athens are dealing with probably the most critical instances and have vowed to research all credible allegations.

A judicial official, who would converse solely on the situation of anonymity, stated he anticipated there to be extra instances, though it was unclear what number of would go to trial, given the passage of time for the reason that alleged incidents and an absence of proof.

The storm of accusations in opposition to family names and revered figures within the Greek arts world is available in one in all 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 for the reason that #MeToo motion rocked the established energy constructions in lots of different nations.

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

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

The Greek actors’ union has obtained a whole bunch of cellphone calls in current days from professionals alleging abuse.

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

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 stated 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’s zero tolerance towards the abuse of energy, sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination, and all types of violence,” the deputy minister for Modern Tradition, Nicholas Yatromanolakis, stated in an e mail. “The cultural area is and may stay a spot the place goals, not nightmares, come true.”

However a number 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 inventive director of the nation’s prestigious Nationwide Theater, Dimitris Lignadis, resigned on Feb. 6 after reviews suggesting that he sexually harassed younger actors. He denied these reviews. Since he stepped down, extra reviews 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, stated Mr. Lignadis was being unfairly focused and vilified. Since his resignation, posters along with his picture have been plastered on bus stops in central Athens, warning that he’ll “pay for all the pieces.”

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

Messages despatched to the Fb accounts of different appearing professionals going through accusations weren’t answered, and additional efforts to achieve them have been unsuccessful.

Harrys Tzortzakis, one in all three male actors who’ve accused the movie director Costas Zapas of sexual harassment, spoke of an “omerta” within the trade, 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 means that they don’t need,” 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 known 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 together with 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 one in all many who stated Ms. Bekatorou had impressed them to come back ahead.

“She doesn’t understand how a lot good she’s accomplished,” Ms. Botsi informed Greek tv. “She’s opened up a street 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 Competition have eliminated Mr. Kimoulis from a play scheduled to be staged on the historical Epidaurus theater this summer season.

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

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

The primary downside for the accusers, in line with authorized consultants, is that lots of the alleged abuses date again years and prosecution could also be restricted by the nation’s statute of limitations.

Below Greek legislation, rape may be prosecuted for as much as 15 years. As for sexual harassment, the offense expires three months after the incident if authorized motion shouldn’t be taken.

Though a debate has began about amending the legislation to bolster safety for victims of intercourse crimes, authorized consultants stated 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 stated that was why it was essential for victims to “break their silence immediately.”

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

“The one main good thing about this troublesome interval for the theater, and for different areas of the humanities and different sectors, is the shaking off of concern,” she stated. It was equally essential, she stated, 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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