Writers Theatre concludes Michael Halberstam investigation, recommends 'compliance training'

The board of trustees of Writers Theatre in Glencoe said in a statement Thursday afternoon that it had completed its inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment made earlier this month against Michael Halberstam, the company's artistic director. The nonprofit theater's board said it had hired an independent investigator who had found that Halberstam “has made inappropriate and insensitive comments in the workplace,” but that “the investigation did not support a finding of other inappropriate sexual behavior.”

As a result, Halberstam has agreed to “participate in compliance training and executive coaching sessions, to begin immediately.”

A representative for the board, Natalie Bauer Luce, said there would be no further comment.

Luce declined to “get into the details of the process” and would not say the numbers of complainants the investigation had considered. But she said the board had conducted "a very thorough and comprehensive investigation" into the matter.

Luce also confirmed that Halberstam, 51, would remain in his position and that the investigation was complete.

Halberstam also made a statement through the board, in which he said: “I understand that statements and comments I have made have caused distress and discomfort for members of our theater community.

“I would like to unequivocally express my sincere and deep regret,” he said. "I welcome and embrace the steps that have been laid out for me by the Board as I am fully committed to addressing this behavior and to making certain that our theatre provides a safe and nurturing atmosphere for everyone.”

Allegations against Halberstam were made on Twitter by Tom Robson, now an associate professor in the School of Theatre & Dance at Millikin University in Decatur but formerly an unpaid assistant director and dramaturg at Writers. Robson's complaint, made initially in a series of tweets, related to Halberstam's alleged behavior during the rehearsal process for a production of "Crime and Punishment" in 2003. "He spent much of that rehearsal process sexually harassing me, verbally and physically," alleged one of Robson's tweets. Robson said he was a "23-year-old unpaid intern" at the time.

In an email to the Tribune, Robson confirmed he had spoken with the theater's investigator and said he would have no further comment.

Chris Jones is a Tribune critic.

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