B.C. actor Michael Coleman denies allegations of sexual harassment

Coleman co-founded a Vancouver acting school, is known for role as Happy in Once Upon a Time

Actor Michael Coleman has denied what he calls a “whisper campaign” of sexual harassment allegations that have been made against him, saying they have damaged his reputation and his career could be ruined.

Coleman, who co-founded an acting school in Vancouver and is known for his role as Happy the dwarf in the television series “Once Upon a Time,” told a news conference Friday he has never kissed or inappropriately touched any acting student, staff member or fan.

He directly addressed four separate allegations, which he said date back to 2009, including one involving inappropriate comments that he says came from a fake Twitter account in his name.

The complainants have not been identified and none of the allegations have been proven.

Coleman called the complaints an anonymous attack on his reputation.

“What I’d like to speak to today is the importance of words matter. I have seen my name in headlines with words like sexual misconduct and sexual allegations. And if you ask anybody what they are, the answer would be, ‘Well I’m not sure,’ ” Coleman said.

Coleman said the first allegation came out in October 2017 at a town hall meeting held by the Union of B.C. Performers, which did not immediately return a request for comment. He said the union invited people to discuss sexual harassment in the entertainment industry after allegations were made against producer Harvey Weinstein.

After that, Coleman said SchoolCreative Institute of the Arts launched an investigation.

“When there were allegations involving my name, as per our own protocol, I took a mutually agreed upon leave of absence and we initiated our own internal investigation,” he said in a later interview.

He said he voluntarily stepped aside from an active role in the school so it could take place. However, Coleman said he took issue with fact it was conducted by a staff member and not a third-party investigator.

The staff member reached out to the woman from the town hall and asked if there was anyone else she should speak to, Coleman said. That’s how the three other complaints were lodged, he said.

Coleman said his career could be ruined by the allegations, which have sparked a rumour mill. His IMDb page says he has also appeared on “Stargate: Atlantis,” “Smallville” and “Supernatural.”

He said a shareholders’ dispute that resulted in his departure from GO Studios and SchoolCreative escalated because of them. The owners decided they no longer wished to be in business together, he said.

He also said he voluntarily stepped aside from an active role in the school to allow an investigation into the allegations to take place, but it was never completed.

Scott Gamble, admissions director at SchoolCreative, said to its knowledge none of the allegations involved the school.

“Out of respect for the complainants and in the interests of protecting everyone’s privacy, SchoolCreative has no further comment on this matter,” he said in a statement. “We are focused on continuing to deliver first class education to our students in a safe and respectful environment.”

He said 14 instructors who resigned returned to the school after Coleman left the company.

A group of about 10 protesters holding signs reading “We believe the women” were allowed to watch the news conference.

Lisa Ovies, who was among the protesters, said there is a support network for women making allegations.

“We have a whole bunch of people here listening. If anybody wants to come forward privately or publicly, you have a community behind you,” added Ovies, who said she worked with Coleman for four years at a children’s acting school.

She said watching the news conference was difficult.

“It’s hard to express what you’re going through, from tears to anger,” Ovies said.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Guard dog trainer looks to take over part of tree farm

An unused horse arena and gravel area on Green Road property proposed for alternate use

Council ponders next steps for Pitt Meadows Official Community Plan

Revising a blueprint for how to keep growing and developing the city has been stalled by COVID

LETTER: Why are mobile lab workers not getting hazard pay?

A Pitt Meadows essential service worker questions why she and coworkers are not being compensated

PHOTOS: Maple Ridge Cubs conduct porch-based food drive

A Scouting from Home effort sees kids collecting non-perishables for the Friends In Need Food Bank

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping The News to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

$2,000 reward for info on suburban trap after raccoon dies

Animal rights groups say there was no need for the trap

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Cullen commission into money laundering in British Columbia resumes today

Inquiry was called amid growing concern that illegal cash was helping fuel real estate, luxury car and gambling

Missing North Delta senior found dead after nine days

88-year-old Jarnail Sanghera had been missing since the morning of Friday, May 15

Bike shops busier than ever, but owners worry about stock supply issues

Uptick in cyclists brings new challenges for shops

Most Read