In a New York Times exposé published Thursday morning, playwright Israel Horovitz (and father of the Beastie Boys’ Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz), became the latest prominent male figure to face accusations of sexual misconduct dating back several decades. Nine women have come forward to allege unwanted advances from the writer ranging from groping and kissing to rape, and one of the alleged incidents is said to have occurred as recently as last year.
Each of the women’s stories in the report is disturbing. Frédérique Giffard, who worked as an au pair for Horovitz in 1991 when she was 16, accused him of fondling her breasts and putting her hand on his penis. When Maddie Corman (who was also 16 at the time) performed in an off-Broadway production of one of his plays in 1986, she alleges that he forced a kiss upon her just moments before she was set to go on stage. And a particularly unsettling account comes from Jocelyn Meinhardt, who in 1989 began a fellowship under Horovitz at the Gloucester Stage Company in Massachusetts. She was 19 at the time and had been the high school girlfriend of Horovitz’s son, Adam. As reported in the New York Times,
That first night, she said, Mr. Horovitz drove her in his convertible — its license plate read AUTHOR — to the family home. He locked the door, then kissed and fondled her. She began to cry. Mr. Horovitz then led her to his bedroom, where she said he raped her.
In response to these accusations, Horovitz told the Times that he has “a different memory of some of these events” and apologized to “any woman who has ever felt compromised by my actions … To hear that I have caused pain is profoundly upsetting, as is the idea that I might have crossed a line with anyone who considered me a mentor.” Adam also provided his own statement: “I believe the allegations against my father are true, and I stand behind the women that made them.”
Elsewhere in the piece it’s revealed that this isn’t the first time Horovitz’s alleged behavior has been reported upon: In 1993, the Boston Phoenix broke a story in which multiple women who had worked at Gloucester Stage anonymously accused him of similar acts of harassment and molestation. That piece demonstrates that rumors of his actions were widespread by that point (one accuser said that she had been warned to “beware of Israel”) and yet, as the Times notes, the board’s president at the time “dismissed the accusations and described some of the women speaking out against Mr. Horovitz as ‘tightly wound.’ ”
As of last week, Gloucester Stage is no longer working with Horovitz, now 78, in light of the accusations from one of the Times' sources, Maia Ermansons, who accused him of forcefully groping and kissing her last year when she met with him to discuss a theater project. Like many of the women in the story, Ermansons had once considered Horovitz to be a trusted mentor. “For the man who represented all that, to treat me the way he did, was the ultimate betrayal,” she said.