Extra Says She Was Raped at Houston Opera

     HOUSTON (CN) – An underage extra sued the Houston Grand Opera, claiming she was raped in a practice room and the opera let her rapist, also an extra, keep working.
     A.D. sued the Houston Grand Opera Association and Gerald Guidry in Harris County Court.
     The opera hired AD to work as an extra on its production of “Dead Man Walking,” she says in the complaint.
     “(A.D.) was hired by HGO to play various roles including those of a protester, mother and chorus,” the complaint states. “(A.D.) was a sixteen-year-old minor at the time.
     “Despite being a minor, and HGO’s policy of assigning to minors ‘wranglers’ to watch over them, (A.D.) was not supervised and was permitted, again without any supervision, to intermingle with HGO’s adult actors.
     “For that same production, HGO hired Guidry as a supernumerary. At the time, Guidry was a twenty-two year old adult hired to play the role of police officer, protester and prisoner.
     “Shortly after employment, Guidry began to stalk and made sexual comments to (A.D.) at work.
     “Left unguarded, the unfortunate eventually happened – Guidry raped (A.D.).
     “The three rapes occurred in January 2011.
     “The first instance involved Guidry dragging (A.D.) by her arm into a girl’s dressing room where he forced her to perform oral sex on him.
     “The second time, Guidry saw (A.D.) by a snack machine and dragged her again by her arm into the men’s rest room where he penetrated her and forced her to perform oral sex on him.
     “The third was particularly violent, causing (A.D.) to bleed while in the shower later that night alarming her mother that something horrible had just happened to her daughter.”
     A.D. says her mother called the opera’s director, Anthony Freud, about the rape.
     “Initially, (A.D.’s) mother was unable to reach him and left him a message saying that she needed to speak to him concerning an emergency,” the complaint states.
     “Later, Mr. Freud’s secretary called back. When (A.D.’s) mother explained to her that (AD) had been raped, the secretary simply responded by saying ‘these are huge accusations being made,’ and hung up the phone.
     “Eventually, Melissa Kiesel, HGO’s Human Resources Director, called back to investigate, at which time she was provided with all the salient facts; however, thereafter, no follow-up notification was ever given to (A.D.) or her mother.
     “In fact, almost unbelievably, Guidry continued to work with HGO through the production of Dead Man Walking.'”
     A.D. claims the opera knew that underage extras “required safety and supervision,” as other minors were put under the watch of wranglers.
     “Clearly, HGO provided supervision for its underage employees to avoid exactly what happened to (A.D.),” the complaint states. “As such, (A.D.’s) rape was foreseeable, and allowing her to work with adults unsupervised is just unjustifiable.”
     Rather than helping her, A.D. says, the opera’s staff accused her of not timely reporting the rapes.
     She adds: “In an unfortunate twist of fate, and making more difficult (A.D.’s) report of the rapes, ‘Dead Man Walking’ was a theatrical production where a female child was raped and murdered.
     “Understandably so, the play scared her and she feared immediately reporting Guidry to HGO because she thought it would result in her meeting a similar fate to the victim in the production.
     “This fact heightens HGO’s responsibilities to a young female working on a production involving such subject matter.
     “Regardless … (A.D.) did not wait unreasonably long to notify HGO of the rape.”
     A.D. seeks damages for gender discrimination, sexual harassment, a hostile workplace, intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault.
     She is represented by Martin Shellist with Shellist Lazarz Slobin in Houston.

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