[UPDATED: An Artists' Perspective] Artists In Santa Ana Artists Village Cover Up for One of Their Own, Accused of Sexually Harassing Minors

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Loopy Bautista
UPDATED: Andy Verostek, who leases a gallery in the Santora, has written a lengthy account of his take on the issue. He claims he was the first person to call the police after the incident happened and that only the friends of the accused have defended him and not Santora artists in an effort to maintain the positive image of the Artists Village--the latter's a lie. He also throws a red herring in the issue over Santa Ana police not releasing reports of the night, stating it "can't give copies of the police reports to people not named in them because they are not public record until a court case is actually filed."

Well, what about the victims themselves?

And then Verostek gets weird. "I cannot stand with Grrl Fair if their tactic is to burn down the whole village in order to smoke out one rat," he writes.

Again with circle-the-wagon mentality! Man, did the Diocese of Orange give you advice in crisis management? Word to the wise: DROP IT.

Meanwhile, another Santora artist sent the following and asked to remain anonymous for the obvious reason:

I knew this was going to happen. I got into big arguments about it with some [Santora building tenants] about the way it seemed they were handling the story. I am an artist there, and I was not apathetic about the situation. Maybe to correct the record, it should say the "Santora Guild," not the Artist Village artists, that is involved in this mess. Some of us were furious and had no idea about the decisions being taken in all of our names. Breaks my heart.

ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 21, 8:48 A.M.: My colleague Gabriel San Roman broke the story this morning of how organizers of this year's Grrl Fair, the county's decade-old celebration of all things womyn, are planning a protest May 7 in Santa Ana's Artists Village during its much-ballyhooed Art Walk. They claim that during the March 12 Grrl Fair in downtown Santa Ana, an artist in the Santora Building constantly groped underage girls and that Santora management (under the rule of mega-developer Mike Harrah), artists and the city's police department have not bothered with their pleas for action.

But it gets worse than that--much worse. The Weekly can now report that artists in the Artists Village not only knew about the alleged incident, but also have tried to keep it under wraps for fear of bringing negative coverage to their slice of paradise.

I first learned about the incident when someone forwarded me this cryptic blog post alleging sexual harassment during Grrl Fair. The event wasn't mentioned by name, but listed "Artist Village" as the location. What got me enraged was the following passage:

We go to one of the other gallery owners for help, and in turn, he tells us this is not the first time this man has done this. They wanted to keep it quiet because they didn't want people to think badly of the building.

Child-molester cover-up? NOT COOL. I confirmed the story with Grrl Fair attendees, then checked in with some of the artists I know in the Village, whose names I will spare for the obvious reasons: they not only confirmed that one of their own acted inappropriately during Grrl Fair and had acted inappropriately in the past, but they also urged me to not write anything, claiming they had the issue under control because they wrote a letter to the artist in question.

Asking a reporter not to do a story? NOT COOL. I refrained from immediately publishing anything, only because the Grrl Fair organizers were trying to go through the legal, proper channels and wanted to get copies of police reports before going public. There was also a debate within their circles about whether to publicize the issue at all, for fear that the Artists Village wouldn't welcome Grrl Fair back next year. But since Santa Ana's finest have dragged their feet on the issue (why?) and the Grrl Fair organizers have publicly revealed their story, might as well tell the full tale now.

"Since the police have not processed our reports, we cannot give out this man's name," reads Grrl Fair's official statement. "We can only let you know, as long as that man is there, downtown is not a safe space for women and girls."

And here, I'll repeat what I told the artists after their jaw-dropping admission to me: You should've booted the bastard when you had the chance and not cared about the reputation of the Artists Village because when the story comes out, you're just going to make the image issue worse.


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