The response to the news regarding the sexual misconduct allegations against Ben Vereen has been surprisingly mixed. While many have obviously condemned his reported actions (especially since he admitted and apologized for them), some fans still stand by the actor. I'm not surprised. Broadway fandom can be a weird thing where unethical actions are overlooked but Hell hath no fury if they don't stage door after a show.
However, despite the mixed reaction, that shouldn't stop the necessary fallout involving the actor. What Mr. Vereen has admitted to doing to female cast members of a 2015 production of Hair wasn't necessarily illegal but certainly beyond unethical. And there needs to be punishment for that. The public can choose not to see his shows, buy his albums, or "Spiritual Enforcer" merchandise which looks more like a scam at this point, than a sincere fundraising effort.
Mr. Vereen needs to feel the sting from the industry that gave him so much fame, which he then used to abuse others. Thankfully that has already started. Yesterday, the organization Broadway San Diego announced that have terminated their relationship with the actor and have scrubbed the actor from the "Ben Vereen Awards" website.
Also, Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Comprehensive Spine Care, which had just unveiled a new billboard of the actor, has wiped all press mentions of the advertisement on their website as well.
While the billboard was to be displayed for a couple of months, I would think drivers entering Manhattan via the 59th Street Queensboro Bridge, won't have to see his face and awkward slogan much longer.
But if the Broadway industry is serious and sincere in sending a zero tolerance message when it comes to sexual misconduct, they need to enact severe punishment to those who have admitted to doing it. In Mr. Vereen's case, they need to remove his name from the American Theatre Hall of Fame.
I briefly mentioned this in a post the other day. While there isn't a "character clause" when it comes to being a Hall of Famer, I would think that admitting to sexually abusing at least four women would be enough of a reason for an organization to remove a person's name from their gallery. There have been rumors and stories about others who are Hall of Famers but this is a rare moment where the misconduct is recent and admitted to by the perpetrator.
But even more so, given the number of men and women in that Hall and the decades they worked in(where sexual misconduct went unchecked and condoned), it would be highly inappropriate for Mr. Vereen's name to appear next to potential victims themselves. Not to mention those who have never and would never use their profession and stature to abuse others the way Mr. Vereen has admitted to doing.
While this situation doesn't erase all the roles Mr. Vereen has played and his career as a whole, it does mean that Broadway doesn't have to continue to honor it.
I don't believe that taking his name down from the Theatre Hall of Fame will act as a deterrent for any future abuses. However, I do believe it will be a significant sign that the Broadway industry is serious about their newly adopted zero-tolerance attitude towards sexual misconduct within their industry.