Though the sex abuse lawsuit involving the Children's Theater Company (CTC) officially ended in January, a war of words between the organization and one of the abuse survivors reignited the controversy over the weekend.
On Saturday, Laura Stearns — who won her civil suit against CTC and its former staffer Jason McLean — called for a boycott of the theater in a Facebook post:
During a hearing on Friday, she says, CTC's lawyers asked the court to make her pay back the legal fees the theater racked up as a result of her lawsuit — $283,792.25, to be exact.
Stearns says CTC made the request on the grounds that it's a "prevailing party" (a legal term for the winning side of a lawsuit) in the case — even though it was found negligible in the sex abuse she endured.
"I’m not sure how this is even allowable," Stearns writes.
The theater, it should be pointed out, was also found not liable for any monetary damages, and was thus not on the hook for the $3.68 million the jury awarded Stearns.
Stearns and her lawyers are currently seeking a mistrial ruling, as they disagree with a number of decisions the judge made during the proceedings.
The theater's side
The next day, the theater responded with a Facebook post of its own, saying "we disagree that (a boycott) is appropriate or deserved":
CTC also denies the claim that they asked the court for compensation from Stearns — though the possibility does seem to be left open.
They explain that, at the aforementioned hearing last week, their attorney only asked the court to "determine what the proper cost is in our case," and that any decision to get payment from Stearns will be made at a "later point in this ongoing process."
"We hope fervently that we never get to the point of having to make such a decision," the post says.
CTC does, however, stand by the position that it's a prevailing party in the case, "on all counts" and "by every measure."
Simply put, the theater's Facebook post backfired.
As of this writing, it has received hundreds of angry comments; many express support for the boycott and heap shame on the theater for "choosing to re-victimize Ms. Stearns," as one user put it.
Additionally, terms like "disgusting," "slimy," "gross" and "atrocious" — among many other such adjectives — abound in the comments.
As is pointed out in the discussion, CTC has not followed up on any of this with responses of its own yet.