Transmission ditches Varsity Theater after owner accused of sex crimes

Transmission at the Varsity Theater in 2014

Transmission at the Varsity Theater in 2014

Since last December, four child sex abuse lawsuits have been filed against former employees of the Minneapolis-based Children's Theatre Company. Among those implicated in three of the lawsuits is Jason McLean, owner of the Varsity Theater and Loring Pasta Bar in Minneapolis. 

Late Thursday, Twin Cities DJ Jake Rudh announced via Facebook that his popular Transmission dance night is leaving its monthly slot at the Varsity. Citing the sex-abuse allegations against McLean, an "absolutely repulsed" Rudh says the Jan. 27 Transmission scheduled for the Dinkytown concert venue will be moved to its weekly home at Clubhouse Jager in Minneapolis' North Loop. 

"For the past week my name has been undeservingly attached to Facebook posts centered around the appalling words of 'rape' and 'child molestation,'" Rudh writes in the lengthy note announcing the move. 

Because of the allegations against McLean, there were calls on social media to boycott last Tuesday's Transmission tribute to David Bowie at the Varsity. 

McLean, 61, a former actor with the Children's Theatre Company, is alleged to have abused at least five female students from 1981 to 1985, according to a civil complaint filed last December in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis.

Twin Cities choreographer Rosy Simas wrote a Facebook post Tuesday encouraging the boycott of Transmission's Bowie tribute. 

"I was a witness to [McLean's alleged] abuse — and a survivor of abuse at CTC. I am asking you to make an ethical choice and do the right thing," she writes, adding, "Please do not support Jason McLean by attending or promoting events at the Varsity." 

Simas is not involved in any of the lawsuits against McLean, the Star Tribune reports. You can read her entire note here

Social media posts like Simas' are what prompted Rudh to issue his statement. 

"I completely understand the viewpoint of everyone who is calling out the man being accused," Rudh writes. "I also understand that Transmission and my name are one of the few repeat events that occur at the Varsity which makes me the perfect target for those expressing their views. I've seen them all and they've been crushing."

You can read his entire note here

Transmission started its larger-scale monthly theme nights at the Varsity in 2012. Future locations for the monthly edition of the new-wave/post-punk dance party will be determined on a month-to-month basis, according to Rudh, who is also a DJ with 89.3 the Current. 

The Star Tribune reports that Varsity senior manager Lynn Nyman issued a statement saying boycotts would only hurt employees of the venue.  

“The Varsity has 60 employees who depend on their jobs for a living,” she says. “No one alleges the employees did anything wrong. They are the people who are most harmed by a boycott of the business."

CTC co-founder John Clark Donahue, 77, served 10 months in jail beginning in 1984 after pleading guilty to sexual misconduct with three teen boys. He also faces new charges of sex abuse committed in the 1970s and 1980s, as does now-deceased CTC instructor Stephen Adamczak. 

"Our guiding principles are to have the truth be known and to see justice done for anyone who may have been the victim of sexual abuse," says CTC — which is also being sued by five alleged victims — last December in a statement. "We welcome any information that may come forward as a result of this process."