Skip to main content

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.

Follow Bring Me The News on Flipboard for the latest stories

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.

Next Up

Monti Ossenfort

Vikings lead off general manager interviews with Monti Ossenfort

Several candidates will interview for the job this week.

Payton Willis

Gophers' rally comes up short, lose to Iowa

The Gophers came back from a 23-point deficit but couldn't complete the comeback.

pixabay-fire-truck-side-close

Firefighters respond to smoke-filled cabin to find man asleep inside

A wood stove was determined to be the cause of the smoke.

snow plow msp airport

MSP snowplow drivers reach contract agreement after threatening strike

Teamsters Local 320 reached an agreement with the Metropolitan Airports Commission Saturday.

Kellen Moore

What you should know about the Vikings' head coach candidates

Seven candidates were revealed on Saturday morning.

20211010_Vikings_Lions_REG05_1119 (2)

What is the next Minnesota Vikings GM inheriting?

A look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Vikings' roster and situation

ambulance

Man dies after being 'punched in the head' during altercation in Duluth

A 46-year-old man is in custody and facing 1st-degree manslaughter charges.

Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders says Zimmer, Spielman hadn't spoken 'in months'

Sanders' comments revealed some of the Vikings' issues last season.

police tape, crime scene

Brooklyn Park man pleads guilty in 2020 fatal drive-by shooting

Devon Manley will be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

Screen Shot 2020-06-16 at 7.48.35 AM

Man gets 10 years for fatal pawn shop fire during Minneapolis riots

The incident, which took place during riots in May 2020,  resulted in one man's death.

Related

Children's Theater Co. facing boycott calls over treatment of abuse survivor

A Facebook post from the theater has resulted in a massive backlash.

Children's Theater Co.'s apology to abuse survivor stirs more controversy

Theater leadership's gesture did little to ease outrage over recent court proceedings.

Children's Theater Company found negligent in sex abuse case

A jury has reached a verdict on abuse that happened at the theater in the 1980s.

Children's Theater protests continue amid lawsuit controversy

The theater is under scrutiny over its treatment of a sex abuse survivor in court.

Children's Theatre Company settles with 6 sex abuse survivors

They suffered sexual abuse in the '70s at the hands of the company's artistic director and 2 other staffers.

Children's Theater Company (CTC)

Children's Theater Company to remain closed until March 2021

They'll be streaming two productions this fall, though.