Barry Lubin, who starred as frontman for the Big Apple Circus as Grandma the Clown from 1982-2012 and again in 2017, abruptly resigned after admitting to coercing a 16-year-old in 2004 to posing for pornographic pictures.
Lubin resigned on Friday, and The New York Times reported the news first on Tuesday.
“The allegations are true. What I did was wrong, and I take full responsibility for my actions,” he said in a statement, which also apologized directly to his victim. “I know that what happened has had a lasting impact on her life, for which I am sorry. I not only failed Ms. Phillips, but I also failed in my responsibility as a man, an adult, a father, and as a representative of the Big Apple Circus.”
Lubin’s accuser met him at a children’s circus camp in Vermont where he taught. In 2004, he offered her work with the Big Apple Circus, but only if she first posed nude for him. “Mr. Lubin paid her $100 in cash and warned her not to tell the circus, because they would be angry that he was doing outside work in their trailer,” the Times reported. He insisted on a second photo session, again paying her $100, then gave her work with his Big Apple Circus. But she lost faith in herself and quit the circus.
Lubin, now 65, had created the Grandma character in 1975 while studying at Ringling Bros. Clown College.
His accuser first contacted Big Apple Circus in 2012, but Lubin had relocated to Sweden and left Big Apple at that time. When the circus changed owners after filing for bankruptcy, and hired Lubin back as Grandma for the 40th anniversary show in 2017, she was horrified, and emboldened by the #MeToo movement to reach out to the new owners last week. They almost immediately put Lubin on leave, and he subsequently resigned.
The Big Apple Circus had just finished an annual three-month engagement in NYC at Lincoln Center. It opens on the road this Friday in Georgia without Grandma.