Ryan Mooney

White Rock Players Club’s artistic director stays on, others step down

Board members of community theatre troupe divided after Ryan Mooney's status as a sex offender made public.

The future of Ryan Mooney’s position as board member and artistic director of the White Rock Players Club will rest with club members, according to past-president Dave Baron.

Contrary to a report last week from a longtime board member – who has since offered her own resignation – Mooney has not submitted a resignation after his record as a sex offender surfaced in media last week.

“We had a meeting (of the Players Club board) Monday,” Baron said this week. “We have not asked for Ryan Mooney’s resignation. He continues in his elected position.”

Asked about earlier statements made by a Players Club representative that Mooney had resigned from his volunteer positions, Baron said only that “he was thinking about it.”

“We talked about it. He has not resigned, and we have not asked for it.”

Instead, two other members of the board – president Angie Koropatnisky and long-serving treasurer Gwenne Farrell – have resigned and at least one other is rumoured to have resigned.

As well, vice-president and former club publicist Katherine Stadel, who last week would not comment on reports that she’s resigning, told Peace Arch News she already had plans not to run again for the board.

Mooney, 32, received a one-year conditional sentence in 2009 after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in an incident that took place in another community in 2006, where he was working as a choreographer on a high school production.

Baron said of the resignations of Koropatniasky and Farrell – a 40-year Players Club veteran – “it was something they felt they had to do; their personal decisions.”

Neither wanted to comment publicly this week.

The club’s annual general meeting, which includes board elections, is scheduled for Aug. 17, and Baron said he is in no doubt that the matter will be raised then.

“Something will come up at the AGM. It will be up to the club membership at large who they want to elect to serve on the board. Club membership will make their views known.”

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) – a summer co-production of the Players Club and Mooney’s own production company due to open this week, featuring Mooney as an actor – has been cancelled, Baron said, although a club Facebook posting says it has been postponed to a later date.

The upcoming 2014-’15 season will continue as planned, Baron said.

Mooney responded to PAN’s request for comment Tuesday only to say that he is considering whether to make a public statement.

Mooney pleaded guilty to an incident that took place when he was 24. The court heard evidence that he had taken a girl he had befriended during the high school production into the ‘green room,’ locked the door, placed his hands on her chest and suggested that she perform oral sex on him. The girl resisted his advances and left the room.

His sentence, which included no jail time, had the condition that he have no contact with anyone under 18 but did not impose a curfew.

The judge agreed with the Crown’s suggestion that Mooney’s sentence should not prevent him from continuing to work on theatrical productions or “deprive him of his livelihood.”

Mooney has since done work as a director and actor with his own Vancouver-based theatre group Fighting Chance Productions, and, more recently, with White Rock Players Club, although he has not worked on the annual Christmas pantomime, the club’s principal production that includes youth involvement.

When Mooney was named the Players Club’s artistic director, and word of his prior conviction was known to board members, the club said at that time that he would have no contact with minors.

Baron acknowledged he and other members of the board had been aware of Mooney’s sentence when he was first elected to the board two years ago. But he rejected suggestions made by some media that Players Club members had been “procuring” for Mooney in seeking young volunteers as “inflammatory.”

“He did something wrong and he was punished for it,” Baron said. “He recognizes he made a very bad mistake and he’s paid the price for it. He has had no involvement with minors in the club. His behaviour (here) has definitely been acceptable – we have had no cause for concern with his being in the club in general.”

Baron said he knows public reaction has included “shock and horror” at the revelations of Mooney’s history as an offender and the club’s acceptance of him. But he noted that others who know or have worked with him, including club members, “seem to be generally supportive of Ryan.”

“If parents have concerns, I want to assure them that Ryan has nothing to do with productions involving young people, that the club has a harassment policy in place and that parents are backstage for any production like the pantomime.”

 

 

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