Harassment accusations leveled against Horovitz

Allegations of sexual harassment have been made against playwright Israel Horovitz by six actresses and staff members involved with Massachusetts’ Gloucester Stage Company, according to a story in today’s Boston Phoenix.

The article notes that seven other women who were not quoted have backed up the accusations against Horovitz, the founder and artistic director of the theater.

Reached through his agent, Horovitz late Wednesday said of the allegations, “It’s rubbish. Someone was fired, and this is their revenge.”

The story said the theater’s business manager had been dismissed.

As of Wednesday, no litigation had been filed against Horovitz, and the 54 -year-old playwright declined comment to the Phoenix. The six accusers who are quoted are not identified in the story.

The allegations involving sexual fondling, kissing and offensive language are detailed in an article that follows a five-month investigation by Phoenix reporter Bill Marx.

The harassment allegedly occurred between 1989 and 1992, and involved women in their 20s or younger. One staff member quoted in the article said the harassment began in 1991 when she was 20.

“As we came around the corner he sort of propelled me up the wall and he started to kiss me and he put one hand under my shirt on my breasts and the other hand down the front of my pants.”

The other five women tell similar stories. The article alleges that, despite their entreaties to Gloucester board president Barry Y. Weiner, the harassment continued unabated and unpunished.

According to accounts in the paper, Weiner, a trial lawyer, discounted the allegations. He is quoted as saying “people throw (such charges) around like manhole covers.” He also is quoted saying the women he spoke to are “tightly wound, if you know what I mean.” In the article, Weiner describes Horovitz as “huggy and kissy,” but denies the playwright’s behavior deserves the label of sexual harassment.

Horovitz’s noted plays include “The Indian Wants the Bronx,””The Widow’s Blind Date” and “Park Your Car in Harvard Yard.”