MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Two former student actors at the Children’s Theatre Company have filed suit against the theatre, co-founder John Clark Donahue and Minneapolis businessman Jason McLean.

The suit was filed under the Minnesota Child Victim’s Act, which extends the statute of limitations on old cases of abuse. It alleges McLean sexually assaulted a female student in 1983, when she was 15 years old.

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John Doe 84 claims Donahue sexually assaulted him several times in 1977, when he was 15. This latest lawsuit revisits a chapter in the Children’s Theatre’s past that saw its founder, Donahue, plead guilty in 1984 to sexual misconduct with three teenage boys.

The suit filed by two former student actors claims the Theatre was negligent for not protecting the children who now say they are survivors of abuse.

“We have held this secret far too long,” abuse victim Laura Adams said.

Adams says McLean, an actor and teaching artist at the Children’s Theatre Company, groomed her in a way that changed her life forever.

“In the Spring of 1983 when I was 15 I was coerced and raped and I use that word because it is accurate,” Adams said.

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Another student actor, John Doe 84, claims he was abused several times by Donahue. Donahue served 10 months behind bars after he plead guilty to abusing three teenage boys in 1984.

“Many children at Children’s Theatre were treated like I was which was victimized,” Adams said.

Speaking through an attorney, McLean says he is “very surprised that allegations made against him 31 years ago when he was an actor at the Children’s Theatre have been raised again in 2015.”

McLean now owns the Varsity Theatre and the Loring Pasta Bar.

“This is not about what they are today or what they have become but it is about what they were,” attorney Jeff Anderson said.

Anderson says McLean was able to function because of the culture created by Donahue in the 1970s and 1980s. The Children’s Theatre says, “based on what we know today we do not believe that the Theatre was negligent in its conduct.”

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Adams says she hopes coming forward helps others who are abuse survivors to tell their stories. McLean says he intends to defend against the lawsuit with all his might and clear his name. The lawsuit seeks $50,000 for each former student.

Reg Chapman