Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Theater icon Ben Vereen has issued an apology for his "inappropriate conduct" after four women accused him of sexual abuse and harassment during a Florida community theater staging of Hair two years ago.
"I would like to apologize directly to the female cast members of the musical Hair for my inappropriate conduct when I directed the production in 2015," the 71-year-old performer said in a statement to the New York Daily News on Friday.
"While it was my intention to create an environment that replicated the themes of that musical during the rehearsal process, I have since come to understand that it is my conduct, not my intentions, which are relevant here. So I am not going to make any excuses because the only thing that matters here is acknowledging and apologizing for the effects of my conduct on the lives of these women," the Tony winner added. "Going forward, my having come to terms with my past conduct will inform all my future interactions not only with women, but with all individuals. I hope these women will find it in their hearts to accept my sincere apology and forgive me."
The actresses told the newspaper Vereen kissed, hugged and touched them without permission, requested oral sex and sent them sexually suggestive messages via text.
BroadwayWorld.com said the production -- which ran at the Venice Theatre MainStage in Venice from Nov. 9, 2015 through Dec. 13, 2015 -- featured a volunteer cast that included Vereen's son, Aaron.
The elder Vereen's Broadway credits include Pippin, Wicked and Jesus Christ Superstar. He is also a popular television actor and longtime supporter of comedian Bill Cosby, who has been accused of drugging and sexually abusing dozens of women. Cosby has denied any wrongdoing.