Children's Theater co-founder and sex abuser John Clark Donahue dies

He perpetrated much of the abuse at the theater in the 70s and 80s.

The notorious former artistic director of the Minneapolis Children’s Theater Company (CTC), who was at the center of the organization’s sex abuse scandals in the 1980s and beyond, has died.

John Clark Donahue, who was one of the founders of the theater, was charged in 1984 with molesting multiple young boys during his tenure there. He was subsequently convicted and served 10 months in jail. 

He died on Friday at the age of 80. 

According to the Star Tribune, Donahue had been suffering from liver cancer and was in hospice care.

Abuse survivors say he "fostered a cult-like atmosphere which allowed the abuse of children to continue under his watch," MPR notes.

Despite having kept a relatively low profile in the years since, his name was mentioned every time CTC's sex abuse issues made the news — which was often. 

That includes several recent developments, including last month's conclusion of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the CTC and Jason McLean, another former theater staffer who was also accused of molesting children at the venue decades ago.

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The jury in that lawsuit found the theater was "generally negligent" in the time period before the alleged assault by McClean, but was found not negligent in supervising and retaining McLean, and was not held liable for what happened.

Instead, the jury ordered McLean — a former businessman best known as the owner of the Varsity Theater and the now-defunct Loring Pasta Bar — to pay the damages.

It’s been pointed out that the plaintiffs will likely never see that money, as McLean fled the country a few years ago and is now said to be living in Mexico.

Corrections: An earlier version of this story stated that John Clark Donahue was named in the lawsuit filed against the CTC and Jason McLean. This was not the case. We also stated that the CTC was found negligent over the alleged assault by McLean, again, this was also not accurate and has been updated to reflect that it was found "generally negligent" but not liable.

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