NEWS

Ex-theatre director ordered jailed over rape allegations as inquiry widens

ex-theatre-director-ordered-jailed-over-rape-allegations-as-inquiry-widens

Prosecutors ordered on Friday that the former director of Greece’s National Theatre be remanded after hearing his plea over child rape allegations, his lawyer said.

Authorities also launched an investigation into allegations that teachers were abusing students at a private school in Athens following a letter signed by nearly 300 alumni.

Dimitris Lignadis, a prominent actor, resigned as head of the National Theatre this month and turned himself in on Saturday after an arrest warrant was issued following lawsuits filed against him by two men who say he raped them when they were minors.

Lignadis has denied all allegations and the case “truly has no evidence”, his defence lawyer, Alexis Kougias told reporters. “I am sure that in the end this person will be freed.”

The case, which follows other sexual abuse allegations in Greek cultural life and sports in recent weeks as part of a delayed #MeToo movement, prompted Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to announce that his government will toughen laws to combat sexual abuse and protect minors.

On Friday, a prosecutor ordered a preliminary investigation into allegations of abuse at the prestigious private school Arsakeio, made by a group of former students against teachers.

In a letter signed by 285 alumni who were at the school between 1994-2018, they said teachers “systematically exploited and insulted the sexual dignity of students with their unethical behaviour”, and called for them to be removed.

“We want to make clear that we are not referring to isolated events of a particular period, but to a mentality,” said the letter, posted on news website in.gr. “A complete lack of pedagogical boundaries by some teachers, which in no way is in line with the practices of a protected school environment.”

The president of the Arsakeio board, Georgios Babiniotis, who requested the prosecutor investigate, said the school would cooperate with the authorities “when and if the vague and general references in the letter take the form of specific and eponymous complaints.”

[Reuters]