NEWS

Johnston library employee, founder of Cranston theater company, suspended following sexual assault allegations

Posted 7/9/21

Johnston library employee suspended following sexual assault allegations Kevin Broccoli, library 'fiction specialist' and founder of Epic Theatre Company, has refused to step down from his artistic director post By RORY SCHULER A Johnston library

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NEWS

Johnston library employee, founder of Cranston theater company, suspended following sexual assault allegations

Posted

A Johnston library employee suspended following sexual assault allegations Kevin Broccoli, library 'fiction specialist' and founder of Epic Theatre Company, has refused to step down from his artistic director post By RORY SCHULER A Johnston library employee has been suspended with pay after allegations of sexual assault were reported against him at the Cranston theater company he founded.

Johnston police are investigating the allegations.

Kevin Broccoli, a Johnston resident, has admitted in a statement posted online to having “inappropriate relationships” with “other people” he “had working relationships with.”

He has refused to step down from his post as artistic director of the Epic Theatre Company, which has led to the resignation of three top-staffers at the organization.

Johnston Mayor Joseph M. Polisena said that “out of an abundance of caution,” police have confiscated Broccoli’s town-owned work computer, and he has been “officially suspended with pay” pending the outcome of a criminal investigation.

It is unclear where the alleged sexual assault occurred and whether Johnston Police will have jurisdiction in the case, according to Johnston Police Chief Joseph P. Razza.

“We have to see if the people involved will speak to us, if the victims will come forward, to determine if a crime has occurred,” Razza said on Monday. “The mayor took swift action out of an abundance of caution.”

Polisena and Razza said Johnston police are investigating the matter because Broccoli is both a town resident and town employee.

Polisena called a meeting Friday, with Razza, a deputy police chief, a human resources representative and the town’s solicitor, William J. Conley Jr.

He said Broccoli’s employment at a library in town presents immediate concerns, and prompted a quick response.

“There are children who go in and out of that library,” Polisena said Monday morning.

On June 24, Broccoli released a statement in response to the allegations. The statement was sent to people affiliated with the theater.

“While I do not know who the person is that has spoken to the staff, I do know that over the years, I have absolutely made mistakes in regards to starting inappropriate relationships with other people I had working relationships with, and as an Artistic Director, I should have known better,” Broccoli wrote. “Professionalism dictates that any interaction I have with someone working with the company, even while consensual, involves that person having to navigate whether or not engaging with me will be useful in some way and/or whether not engaging with me will hurt them in some way.”

Broccoli serves as the artistic director for the Epic Theatre Company in Cranston.

The theater has halted all productions.

Executive Director Megan Ruggiero, Associate Artistic Director Angelique Dina, and General Manager Lauren Pothier have all resigned from their posts at the theater, following the allegations and an internal investigation.

Ruggiero posted a statement online, following her resignation.

“Without getting into detail about the investigation to maintain the privacy of this survivor, I can say the claim was quite severe and truly horrified me,” Ruggiero wrote. “My heart goes out to this survivor and any others who may come forward as a result of this news. I am disappointed in myself for not picking up on this and not being able to come to this individual’s aid sooner.”

Since the theater is a nonprofit, without a fully functional Board of Directors, Ruggiero said they did not “have the ability to request a vote for removal.”

“Instead, we made Kevin aware of the allegations, our investigation, and our desire for him to step down from his position,” she wrote. “Though Kevin told us he will be remaining at Epic to accept responsibility, hold himself accountable, and swiftly try to install new leadership to carry on the company, we still felt uncomfortable remaining in our positions. For me, doing that would have felt complicit in a way and not truly taking a stand for the survivor and potentially others, which based on our investigation, I believe do exist.”

Broccoli posted his statement early Friday morning, after meeting with Pothier and Ruggiero late Thursday night.

Pothier and Ruggiero requested a meeting with Broccoli “as soon as possible to discuss and urgent matter,” according to Broccoli’s online statement.

“It sounded very serious, so I said I would meet with them at the theater and we all started a conversation around 11:30 p.m.,” Broccoli wrote. “They informed me that someone — I don’t know who — had come to them to tell them about an interaction with me that that person felt was inappropriate. I do not want to underplay it, so I will say that this person felt that due to the power dynamic of me as an Artistic Director, they felt as though they were not in a position to deny me consent in whatever that interaction was.”

Broccoli founded Epic Theatre Company in 2006, according to the biographical information posted on Epic’s website.

Broccoli also currently holds the Guinness World Record for most monologues performed in a 24-hour period.

Prior to his suspension, Broccoli worked as a “fiction specialist” at Johnston’s Marian J. Mohr Memorial Library, 1 Memorial Ave.

Broccoli said he did not resign from his post at the theater because “whoever was in charge of Epic once we went public with this would inevitably face a storm of criticism.”

“In a sense, they would be asked to clean up a mess caused by me, and I didn’t think that was fair. My suggestion was to have Megan, Lauren, and anyone else on staff resign, and that I would make myself available to face that criticism on my own.”

Dina has also posted a statement online, explaining her decision to leave Epic.

“I stand in solidarity with survivors,” she wrote. “I do not tolerate abuse, assault, or violence. I have resigned from my position of associate artistic director at Epic, but if anyone needs help or support, do not hesitate to contact me, Megan Ruggiero, or Lauren Katherine Pothier.”

Attempts to contact Broccoli for further comment have not been successful.

Attempts have also been made to contact Dina, Pothier and Ruggiero, but have not been successful.

Cranston Police Major Todd Patalano said that Cranston police are not actively investigating the allegations.

Johnston Library Director Jon Anderson declined comment, referring calls to Town Hall. Kevin broccoli

Kevin Broccoli, a Johnston resident and town library employee, has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation by Johnston Police into allegations of sexual assault. (Courtesy photo)

Broccoli, theater

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