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Beverly police, Essex DA investigating former artistic director of Boston Children’s Theatre

Burgess Clark resigned from his position of artistic director of the Boston Children's Theatre.
Burgess Clark resigned from his position of artistic director of the Boston Children's Theatre.Lane Turner/Globe Staff/file/2014/Globe Staff

Beverly police and the Essex District Attorney’s Office are investigating allegations of “inappropriate behavior” by the former artistic director of Boston Children’s Theatre, police said in a statement Sunday.

Burgess Clark, 58, of Beverly resigned on Tuesday, two days before a group of students and parents sent an anonymous e-mail to the theater’s board of directors containing a list of allegations including statements that Clark kissed or inappropriately touched them in private lessons or at his second home in Walden, Vt.

Beverly police said in its statement Sunday that the department knows of the allegations.

“The department is aware that Boston Children’s Theatre is headquartered at the Cummings Center in Beverly and conducts performances at several locations throughout the area,” the statement said. “The department is working alongside the [Essex] District Attorney’s Office to ascertain where these allegations may have taken place.”

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Police would not comment further Sunday, describing the investigation as “now active and on-going.” An Essex District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman declined to comment.

Jim Solomon, the interim president of Boston Children’s Theatre, welcomed news of the investigation in a statement Sunday.

“The board of the Boston Children’s Theatre is pleased to see the Beverly Police Department acting upon the information that we provided,” Solomon said. “We will continue to make the safety and security of the students in BCT programs our first priority.”

On Saturday, the theater’s board notified the accusers that Clark had resigned, and Solomon contacted Beverly police the same day, the organization said.

Boston Children’s Theatre has programs in Boston and in Beverly. Clark lives in Beverly with his partner, and they share their house with the organization’s executive director, Tobias Schine. Clark and Schine did not respond to messages for comment Sunday.

Solomon said Sunday the theater’s board has full confidence in Schine as executive director, which was also expressed by a spokesman for the board on Saturday.

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Thursday’s e-mail to the theater’s board entitled, “The Threat of Burgess Clark,” included what it said was the experiences of 17 former students. Their allegations included descriptions of physical risk-taking exercises during Clark’s acting classes that sometimes had students kissing or touching each other in sexually suggestive positions. Some students also alleged Clark asked about their sexual experiences or massaged them during private lessons.

“He has damaged, traumatized and hurt many students of BCT, during the most vulnerable years of their lives, and we cannot allow this to happen to even one more student,” the e-mail said. It was signed only “The concerned students and parents of Boston Children’s Theatre.”

The allegations were collected by several former students, one of whom told the Globe Saturday that Clark shouldn’t be allowed to work with children.

In interviews with the Globe earlier in the fall, four former students said they have described their experiences with Clark to the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office. One of those former students also spoke with police in Vermont.

The Suffolk District Attorney’s Office and the Caledonia County State’s Attorney Office in Vermont did not respond to messages Sunday.


Laura Crimaldi of the Globe staff contributed to this report. John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.