VOL. 133 | NO. 59 | Thursday, March 22, 2018
Sexual Misconduct Allegation at Playhouse Could Trigger Report to Authorities
By Bill Dries
Playhouse on the Square will not be making public the details of its investigation or a report it commissioned on an allegation of “sexual misconduct” by theater founder Jackie Nichols. But the theater’s board could be required to report the allegation to authorities if it hasn’t already, Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich confirmed Tuesday, March 20.
An allegation of sexual misconduct against Playhouse on the Square founder Jackie Nichols won’t go public when a report is submitted.
Nichols retired earlier this month and the Playhouse board accepted it, but in announcing his departure made no mention of the allegation made by a woman who posted on Facebook in January that she was sexually abused as a child at the theater.
Nichols denied any wrongdoing and took a leave of absence in January. The Playhouse board then announced it had hired the law firm Burch, Porter & Johnson PLLC “to investigate an allegation of sexual misconduct” against Nichols.
When asked this week if the report would be made public, spokesman David Brown responded by email: “Jackie Nichols elected to retire. Both the investigation and the report will be treated as confidential and will not be released to the news media or the public.”
Asked about the allegation and requirements in Tennessee state law to report allegations of child sexual abuse, Weirich, through a spokesman and by email said, “Our reading of the statue indicates yes, the board would have a duty to report.”
That doesn’t mean prosecutors could or would say anything about such an allegation or their investigation.
A similar legal point came up in 2005 when leaders of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis argued they weren’t required by state law to report allegations of child sexual abuse by priests made to church officials because the alleged victims had been 13 or older at the time.
Then-district attorney general Bill Gibbons said the diocese was required to report the allegations under state law.
The controversy led the diocese to agree to turn over information to prosecutors on allegations it knew about in the past, some dating back 40 years, involving several priests.
Prosecutors didn’t disclose names or specific allegations and the investigation never resulted in any criminal charges.