MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Todd Hildebrandt was a 15-year-old child actor at the Children’s Theatre Company back in 1977.
That’s when he says he was sexually assaulted by its former creative director, John Clark Donahue.READ MORE: Clean Car Debate At Minnesota Capitol May Lead To Summer Closures Of State Parks, Trails
“This happened because there was no advocate within the organization for the children to reach out to for help,” Hildebrandt said on Tuesday.
At a press conference, he shed his protective John Doe 84 identity. He sought to put a face on decades of trauma.
“It was a something I wouldn’t wish happen on anyone else in this room…to have ever had happened,” he said.
Hildebrandt is one of eight plaintiffs suing Donahue, the theater and former staff. Two others have filed suit in Hennepin County District Court.
Attorney Jeff Anderson alleges that former theater administrators and the board put the theater’s reputation ahead of the well-being of the child actors.
He called their actions a cover-up of half-truths.
“All of those kids who had been violated by Donahue and other adults in positions of power had their truth suppressed,” he said at the press conference.READ MORE: Marietta's Salt Lake Is A Paradise For Birds And Bird Watchers
WCCO-TV went to Donahue’s home in south Minneapolis, but he was not available for comment.
In 1984, he served 10 months in the county workhouse after pleading guilty to three counts of criminal sexual conduct.
“The victims were trapped, I too am one of the victims,” Hildebrandt said Tuesday.
Anderson and Hildebrandt believe the numbers of past victims could be in the dozens.
They urge others to come forward to file suit under the law that temporarily lifts the statute of limitations on past sex abuse cases.
That law will expire on May 25, three months from now.
Donahue isn’t commenting on the developments.MORE NEWS: COVID In MN: Gov. Walz To Announce On Thursday His Timeline To End All Restrictions
The theater issued a statement supporting the efforts of past victims to seek the truth and to have justice served.