A Hennepin County judge has entered a default judgment of $2.5 million against former Minneapolis restaurateur Jason McLean for sexually abusing a student at the Children's Theatre Company in 1983.
The judgment was made in one of five sexual-abuse lawsuits filed against McLean, a former CTC actor and teacher, after he failed to show for court dates.
Attempts to reach McLean on Monday were unsuccessful.
Molly Burke, an attorney with Jeff Anderson & Associates, which represents all five of the plaintiffs, said McLean has fled to Cabo San Lucas in Baja California, Mexico.
"He's on the run, but we're looking at what we can do in Mexico" in terms of seizing his assets, Burke said.
Earlier this year McLean sold his two businesses in the Dinkytown neighborhood, the Varsity Theater and the Loring Pasta Bar. According to the plaintiff's lawyer, the Varsity was sold for $2.5 million while the Loring had a property-tax valuation of $1.5 million.
"In Baja, he's been going around telling real estate agents that he'll pay for property with cash," Burke said. "He has a sale pending on a $1.5 million house."
Twin Cities lawyer Jon Hopeman, who represented McLean when the initial suits were announced, said Monday that McLean is no longer a client and that he does not know who represents him.
McLean was served with the lawsuit in Oakland, Calif., where he owned a now-closed restaurant, the Loring Cafe, and another called Small Wonder.
The suit, filed by an unnamed Jane Doe, alleges that "in multiple instances McLean inflicted harmful, offensive and unpermitted sexual contact" during the late summer and fall of 1983, when she was 15 to 16 years old and he was a 29-year-old teacher.
"We are concerned that McLean still continues to pose a serious risk of harm, and we will continue to do whatever it takes to make him accountable to the women he harmed as children, even if it means chasing him to the ends of the Earth," said plaintiff's attorney Jeff Anderson.
The suits were filed under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which extended the statute of limitations on old cases of abuse to facilitate legal action against the Catholic Church and clergy, but was subsequently used to bring civil suits in the 1970s-80s sexual abuse scandal at CTC.
Suits also have been filed against the theater and its co-founder, John Clark Donahue, who in 1984 pleaded guilty to molesting three boys who were students at the theater and served 10 months in jail.
In a statement Monday, CTC said it "has been fully cooperating in this process as we want to see justice done for anyone who has suffered abuse as a child."
After incidents first came to light in the 1980s, the theater instituted a set of practices to keep children safe, including background checks on staffers, a ban on socializing with children outside of official activities, and a "rule of three" requiring that no staff member or volunteer be alone with a student in a private space. It also requires staff members to report any suspicion of abuse or neglect.
Rohan Preston 612-673-4390 • @rohanpreston