Actor Michael Coleman Exits Arts School Role Amid Sexual Harassment Claims

Michael Coleman - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Karolina Turek

The 'Once Upon a Time' actor tells THR his behavior "never crossed a line into a place of harassment" after multiple sexual allegations emerged.

Michael Coleman, who played the dwarf character Happy on ABC's Once Upon a Time, has stepped down from a Vancouver arts school he co-owned amid sexual harassment allegations.

Scott Gamble, admissions director at the SchoolCreative: Institute for the Arts in Vancouver, in a statement said Coleman is no longer the artistic director at the school after he "voluntarily agreed" to sell his ownership stake and step down.

"To our knowledge any allegations against Michael Coleman predate his involvement with SchoolCreative. ... He will no longer be on the premises and will no longer be involved in any aspect of the school’s business and operations," Gamble added.

Coleman also left Go Studios, a Vancouver-based casting studio he co-founded and co-owned.

In a statement Wednesday to CBC News, the actor called the allegations made against him "unfounded," and that he left SchoolCreative: Institute for the Arts because of a shareholder dispute. In a separate statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Monday, however, Coleman said allegations of misconduct with four former un-named students in his personal acting classes were "unsubstantiated," before adding "I have and continue to maintain my innocence of these allegations."

Without being specific, Coleman addressed past professional behavior. "I am confident that if I look back to 10 years ago there are undoubtedly things I’ll wish I’d have said or done differently." 

"I have never intentionally sought to harm, abuse my position, or make anyone uncomfortable, and I do not believe any of my behavior has ever crossed a line into a place of harassment or disrespect, but I also know that if I were perfect there wouldn’t be any cause for anyone to have any issues at all," Coleman added in his statement. 

"I will never ask to take away another human being’s feelings, they have a right to their perspective, and if I hurt anyone in any way, I am deeply sorry," he said.

Coleman also pulled out of a planned appearance at a Once Upon a Time fan convention in Vancouver, where the series is shot, set for March 14-16.

"It is incredibly heartbreaking to think anyone could accuse me of taking advantage of my position in life, or the areas of trust imbued upon me. I adamantly deny any wrongdoing and I am confident the truth will be revealed soon," he said in a Feb. 23 statement posted to the Facebook page for Creative Entertainment, which organizes Once Upon a Time conventions.

"I believe it is best if I withdraw from the Vancouver convention so as to not be a distraction of any kind," Coleman added. None of the allegations against Coleman have been proven in court.

Vancouver lawyer J.J. McIntyre told The Hollywood Reporter he represents multiple clients who have claims of sexual harassment against Coleman, but are not willing at this time to make them public.

"It's up to my clients as to when they want to have their stories aired in public, or if they want to have them aired in public," he said. No legal action has been taken against Coleman.

The Vancouver-based Coleman is a veteran actor on locally produced TV series, including Supernatural, Smallville, Fringe, Stargate, Blood Ties and Eureka.

Feb. 23, 1:30 p.m. Updated with a statement from Michael Coleman indicating his withdrawal from a Once Upon a Time convention in Vancouver in March.

Feb. 26, 20:00 p.m. Updated with a statement from Michael Coleman to the Hollywood Reporter.