Harland Meltzer headshot

Harland Meltzer

WESTERLY — The results of an investigation of two claims of sexual harassment made against an employee of the Colonial Theatre, which has now been completed, will not be made public, a theater board member said Wednesday.

"The Colonial Theatre has concluded its approximately one-year-long investigation into allegations of sexual harassment in the nature of a hostile work environment. As part of the investigation the Colonial Theatre board has determined to keep all of its findings confidential in order to respect the confidentiality of the individuals involved," said Nicholas Moore, the board's vice president.

The theater board, in a letter to the editor submitted to The Sun on Wednesday, also announced the resignation of Harland D. Meltzer as both producing artistic director and a member of the board. Meltzer founded the theater, which is best known for its annual Shakespeare in the Park summer productions, in 1985.

According to the letter to the editor, Meltzer, in an email, told the board that "the exigencies of care for my parents leaves me without sufficient time and energy to properly fulfill my functions at The Colonial.”

The investigation came to light in May when Moore confirmed that he and a board subcommittee had been investigating two allegations since early spring, one by a former theater employee and one by a prospective employee. Also in May, the theater announced that Shakespeare in the Park would take a one-year hiatus and that the organization would instead increase its focus on a partnership with the Westerly Public School District.

Moore led the early part of the investigation, which was later turned over, in June, to attorney Michael Chittick of Adler Pollock & Sheehan, which has offices in Providence. On Wednesday Moore declined to say whether Chittick made specific recommendations at the conclusion of the investigation. He also declined to say when the investigation was completed.

The theater organization is committed to "maintaining our transparency and use of best practices on all business-related items with training and other best measures to become a trusted community organization," Moore said.

The partnership with the Westerly schools, which Meltzer initiated, has earned praise as a model for other community theater organizations interested in bringing professional actors and other theater experts into a public school setting and offering students an opportunity to learn about acting and other theater work, Moore said. The theater is seeking new grants with the hope of expanding the schools program, Moore said.

The board, in its letter to the editor, acknowledged Meltzer's contributions. "The Colonial wishes to express its gratitude to Harland for his 33 years of leadership in establishing The Colonial ...The Colonial wishes Harland well as he dedicates his time and energies to caring for his elderly parents in New York City," the letter reads.


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