The founder of the New York theater school sexually abused students: lawsuit
The founder of a Manhattan theater school is a “sexual predator” who has exploited female students, planted alcohol on them and given them creepy massages under the guise of voice training, a new lawsuit says.
Andrew Drost, 50, resigned as head of the Institute for American Musical Theater in December after he was allegedly exposed as a “monster” by parents and students, according to last week’s lawsuit in Manhattan Superior Court.
But the accused creep now appears to want to go back to teaching – prompting the Upper Manhattan Institute to take the matter to court to get him barred from returning.
“He wants to come back and teach the students and I don’t think he’s welcome back,” Michael Minarik, Drost’s former business partner at the school and current principal, told The Post.
The lawsuit details how Drost – who once had a role in Broadway’s “Phantom of the Opera” – allegedly placed a massage table in the common room where he gave rubdowns to female students, claiming “it was” a method to help to relax vocal cords.”
In another instance, he allegedly used a vibrator to massage a student’s neck — and “insisted there was nothing strange,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also details a particularly troubling incident in which Drost allegedly molested a 19-year-old college student and gave her what he called an “anti-alcohol pill” before giving her “a full-body massage.”
He then continued to sexually harass the young woman, kissing him, coercing her into massages, forcing her to sit on his lap, holding her hand at school and sending her numerous text messages, the lawsuit alleges.
In November 2021 messages obtained by The Post, Drost sent photos of himself – including one of him shirtless – telling the girl he loved her.
Drost, who was a professional ballet dancer, opera singer, Broadway performer and voice coach, is also accused of bullying students and threatening to blacklist them from Broadway if they didn’t do what he wanted, according to the lawsuit.
In addition to allegedly exploiting and terrorizing students, the language coach also stole more than $400,000 from the school he founded in 2015, the lawsuit says.
Minarik said the students were “delighted” to hear the news of Drost’s departure, adding that he was thanked by both family and students for helping push him out.
“After I was informed of the allegations the next day, he was gone,” Minarik said. “Because student safety is the most important thing.”
Now Drost – who has agreed to reduce his stake in the school to 25% as a silent partner amid the scandal – is threatening to resume his old administrative role, court documents say.
In his own lawsuit in October, Drost claimed Minarik allegedly used false allegations to pressure him into a bad exit deal and said he wanted to reverse the deal.
Minarik and the school on Friday filed lawsuits against Drost over his attempt to come back amid serious allegations against him and alleged widespread dislike for him.
A judge issued temporary orders starting Monday and Tuesday, barring Drost from within 500 feet of the school, contacting students or using the school’s website until a hearing next week.
The school’s lawsuit alleges that Drost – who dated a woman he has since married – harassed students with alcohol on June 4, 2021 in Dallas, Texas before inviting the 19-year-old woman to his hotel room, where he gave her the pill that made her tired.
Then, while drunk and sleepy, Drost reportedly gave her “a full-body massage,” which made her remove her top and bra before also massaging her upper inner thigh, the suit says.
He then grabbed her to stop her as she tried to leave, and when she was finally able to return to her own room, she vomited, the suit claims.
Drost” continued to press [the student] in massages to which [the student] agreed because she was afraid of the consequences of saying no,” the lawsuit reads.
On one occasion, while allegedly trying to kiss her on December 3, 2021, he told her he didn’t know if things would work out with the woman who is now his wife, saying, “Who knows, maybe you will.” and I will be married in ten years,” the filing reads.
As she fended off another kiss attempted by Drost, he said, “That’s Strike One,” the suit claims.
The student filed a complaint with the police in August 2022, and on Friday a New York family court judge issued a protective order against Drost, according to the lawsuit.
After the allegations broke, Drost asked the student to “delete all my text messages,” encouraging her to move her communications to Snapchat instead so that they would disappear after reading, the lawsuit alleges.
When other students tried to “intervene” after noticing how Drost was treating the student, he retaliated by “depriving them of or threatening to deprive them of career opportunities,” the lawsuit says.
The school alleges a number of other allegedly inappropriate behaviors by Drost, including that he once spread a rumor that a student was addicted to cocaine, according to court records.
Another student developed an eating disorder because he repeatedly told her she needed a “dancing body,” the suit claims.
Drost allegedly “financially supported” three female students, sending them a total of $5,170 through Venmo to help with their college tuition — “as a method of forcing the students to remain loyal to him,” the filing says.
He also had two female students who lived with him from 2018 to 2020, one of whom said “she felt ‘uncomfortable’ living there,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit alleges that Drost stole over $435,000 from the school treasury and frequently requested that tuition be transferred to his personal Venmo or Paypal accounts.
“I was completely stunned and had absolutely no idea what was happening to him and the students and how he was making them feel,” Minarik told the Post. “And it really hurt me to learn all those things and deal with the aftermath of it.”
The school is suing Drost for damages in an unspecified amount. Minarik also sued to prevent Drost from returning to school and to force him to buy his way out of the institution.
Zachary Kuperman, an attorney for the school and Minarik, told The Post, “We will win this lawsuit and keep him out and the school will thrive and the students will have a great place to learn about musical theatre.”
Drost’s attorney, Andres Munoz, told The Post: “The two lawsuits recently filed by Michael Minarik distort the truth and are an attempt to take over Andrew outright and oust him from the company he founded. Mr. Drost is confident that justice will be done.”
https://nypost.com/2022/11/22/nyc-theater-school-founder-sexually-abused-students-lawsuit/ The founder of the New York theater school sexually abused students: lawsuit