Catalan Ombudsman investigates sexual harassment and abuse of power at Institut del Teatre

A former student files an internal complaint against several teachers at the centre

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Albert Llimós i Núria Juanico
2 min
Students at the Diputació de Barcelona

BarcelonaThe Catalan Ombudsman will investigate the cases of sexual harassment, abuse of power and psychological mistreatment uncovered by ARA at the Institut del Teatre (IT). In light of the students' complaints on the actions of some teachers, including theatre director Joan Ollé, the Catalan Ombudsman has decided to open an ex-officio action and has requested information from the Barcelona Provincial Council, as owner of the centre, and the Barcelona Education Consortium. "The Catalan Ombudsman also wants to know if any formal complaints have been received, and if any actions have been taken to respond to them and their outcome," the Catalan Ombudsman said in a press release. ARA explained on Sunday that a student filed a complaint with the Catalan Ombudsman two weeks ago to report what she had suffered at the Institut del Teatre, but it did not go forward because complaints by and against individuals are not admitted.

In his press release, the Catalan Ombudsman also reported that he had opened an ex-officio action on the case of sexual abuse at the Aula de Teatre in Lleida, also uncovered by ARA last May.

On the other hand, this Thursday former student Roser Bosch sent a complaint to the IT, which the anti-harassment commission will receive. She reports eight teachers among whom are Joan Ollé, Berty Tovías and Jorge Vera. In the most serious cases, which affect three teachers, the complaint describes psychological abuse, alcoholism, contempt and humiliation of students in the middle of class and even a physical assault in which a teacher grabbed a student by the neck and slammed her student against the wall. This would be the second complaint that reaches the commission to ARA's knowledge. Roser Bosch has created a platform to channel more complaints. ARA also continues to receive information from witnesses relating to the three teachers mentioned, such as that of a costume designer who went to live away from Barcelona after being harassed by Ollé in the professional world.

On the other hand, in the February plenary session of the Barcelona Provincial Council held this Thursday, an institutional declaration was read in relation to the Institut del Teatre case. The body on which the centre depends has announced that if the accusations are confirmed and legal proceedings are opened, the Council will act as a private accusation. The statement read by Ferran Mascarell has shown "the energetic rejection" of the cases uncovered in the center relating to a group of teachers whose attitude is in no way representative. The text declares the "maximum support and solidarity with the students who have been victims" and urges the organs of the direction of the IT to "strengthen" the control mechanisms to "prevent future reoccurrence" of such harassment and abuse.

While the plenary session was taking place at the Provincial Council, students from the IT and other schools in Barcelona mobilised in the streets of Barcelona: they cut off the Gran Via and went to the city center to gather in front of the Provincial Council. The students have called for a strike on March 1.