Thursday, 16 July 2015 - 10:01
Amsterdam theatre teachers accused of sex with students
Former students of the Amsterdam Theater School are accusing two prominent lecturers of having amorous relationships with their students. This involves the Flemish actor Jappe Claes and Ruut Wessman, artistic leader of the Theater School and renowned theater director, the Volkskrant reports based on conversations with former students and lecturers. Early in 2014 the school's director Jan Zoet gave Jappe Claes the choice to either resign or face a thorough investigation into his conduct after an investigation by a group of young teachers concluded that he had sexual relations with a large number of students. Sources told the Volkskrant that this involved between 10 and 20 students, many of whom said they felt intimidated by him. Claes opted for a "voluntary" resignation. The school announced that he had stepped down because he wanted to focus more on his acting career and called his departure a "loss" for the Theater School. When the Volkskrant spoke to Cleas, he initally denied having sex with any students, but his lawyer later told the newspaper that Claes had a brief relationship with one student. The other teacher, Ruut Weissman, admitted to the Volkskrant that he had relationships with three students in the 80's, but broke them off in the early 90's and never put a foot wrong again. "One day I realized that my position does not allow it. But in the 80's it just happened, relations with students. My leaders did it too. I am not condoning it, but that was the climate", he said to the newspaper. According to the Volkskrant, they have spoken to four women who say that had a relationship with Weissman in the 80's, and other sources say that there were even more. There has been much restlessness surrounding Weissman at the school in the past few years. In 2012 a teacher, who asked the Volkskrant to remain anonymous, sent an urgent letter to the confidential committee about rumors about Weissman. She eventually did not file an official complaint because she had no legally tenable evidence. In 2014 comedian and singer Karin Bloemen went to the school board with statements from six other women stating that Weissman abused his position by entering into relationships with them. The school took no further steps because it was not a formal complaint, because the statements were anonymous and because the facts happened between 20 and 30 years ago. In a written reaction, the Theater School stated that "intimate relationships between teachers and students, as well as between employees, who work or study in a dependent relationship, are not acceptable and thus not allowed."