Two top managers and at least three other Renaissance Festival employees have resigned in the wake of a police investigation into former artistic director Carr Hagerman, who was charged last month with two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct.
The staff exodus includes Anita Kelling, a former entertainment director who temporarily replaced Hagerman, and Director of Safety Services Bob Kinsman, along with three members of his security team.
In his resignation letter, Kinsman cited the need to address health issues. Kelling did not provide a reason for leaving.
"People can read what they want into it," said Bo Beller, director of business and legal affairs at Mid-America Festivals Inc., the fair's management company. "But I don't believe that it is directly related to the Carr situation."
Neither Kelling nor Kinsman returned messages Tuesday seeking comment.
The staffing shake-up comes at a tumultuous time for one of the country's largest renaissance fairs, which is preparing for its 48th season this August. The unexpected turnover has slowed planning and contract negotiations, Beller said, but he vowed that the festival will go on as planned.
Authorities accuse Hagerman, 60, of repeatedly beating and raping a freelance photographer last September after taking her to an upstairs storage room to take pictures. He has denied the assault to police and was released from Scott County Jail after posting $100,000 bail.
Hagerman has been on paid suspension since November, an employment status that Minneapolis attorney John Klassen called "disturbing, given the allegations against him." Klassen represents the accuser in the criminal case as well as other female festival workers who have made accusations against Hagerman.
Kelling, a sound designer, had stepped in to lead this year's cast following Hagerman's suspension. On June 15, the day news broke of the criminal charges, she sought to calm returning performers on Facebook.
"I know that today is shocking and hard for all of us (myself included), but we have one thing we need to do in this group. We need to get ready for the festival to open. That is all," Kelling said. "The patrons are what matters. The court system will do its job. We must continue with ours."
Less than 10 days later, she resigned. In her stead, festival organizers have named David "Fud" Williams, a Renaissance Festival alumnus and former high school English teacher and theater director, as entertainment director.
"How do we look ahead? That's my job," Williams said. "I'm looking forward to putting on the best show and best entertainment for the patrons we can possibly do."