Councilmembers Request Review of San Diego Junior Theater Allegations - NBC 7 San Diego

Councilmembers Request Review of San Diego Junior Theater Allegations

Critic claims group's leadership ignored sexual/physical abuse allegations



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    Matt Valenti claims the Junior Theater board tried to hide incidents of sexual and physical abuse at the performing arts organization, a training ground for aspiring actors and backstage technicians since 1948.

    Two members of the San Diego City Council have requested an outside law-enforcement review of alleged misconduct by leadership of the San Diego Junior Theater.

    The June 18 letter from Councilmembers Scott Sherman and Vivian Moreno seeks a "review and consideration of appropriate action" by the state attorney general's office and the San Diego County District Attorney.

    The letter was prompted by allegations made by Matt Valenti, an outspoken critic of the theater's leadership and whose daughters participated in Junior Theater productions.

    In a public statement to the City Council at its May 7 meeting, Valenti claimed the Junior Theater's board had tried to protect Executive Director Jimmy Saba, who allegedly grabbed and shook a teenage drama student.

    Valenti also said board members failed to properly respond to warnings that an instructor had a sexual relationship with an underaged student.

    The Junior Theater board has repreatedly and forcefully denied Valenti's allegations. 

    Valenti has also criticized San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott, who he claims “illegally disclosed evidence related to three ongoing law enforcement investigations” of alleged child abuse and “crimes” at the Junior Theater. 

    “Mr. Valenti’s allegations against me and my office are baseless, outrageous, and defamatory,” Elliott previously told NBC 7. “As a mother and as City Attorney, I take allegations of child abuse very seriously.”