sexual misconduct

‘Grandma’ Clown Resigns After Pressuring Teen Into Pornographic Photos

Barry Lubin. Photo: Jason Kempin / Staff/2009 Getty Images

Revered circus performer Barry Lubin — known for his role in the Big Apple Circus as Grandma the clown — has stepped down after acknowledging that in 2004 he pressured a 16-year-old to take pornographic pictures. Zoey Dunne, a former aerialist, accused Lubin through a letter to the circus on Friday, according to the circus chairman Neil Kahanovitz.

Through his lawyer, Lubin released a statement Tuesday night reading, “The allegations are true. What I did was wrong, and I take full responsibility for my actions.”

She tried to go to the police in 2011 or 2012, but was told the statute of limitations had expired. According to the New York Times, Dunne had previously contacted the circus about Lubin in 2012. A circus official told her that, because Lubin was not currently with the Big Apple Circus, they couldn’t do much. Dunne learned on Facebook that he rejoined Big Apple three months ago and reached out to the circus again on Friday to tell her story.

Dunne told the Times that she was contacted by Lubin in 2004 and that he offered her work with Big Apple’s mini-troupe. But first, she would have to model for his “personal photography business.” In his trailer, he had her lie down in a bathing suit and pretend to be sleeping. After she declined to take her underwear off, he had her change into a thong and spread her legs. He paid her $100 in cash and told her not to tell the circus. He “insisted” on a second photo session and paid her another $100. Dunne’s father told the Times that, until Dunne told him what happened, he didn’t suspect Lubin of wrongdoing.

“He’s the friendly grandma, how could he harm you? It’s like Bill Cosby: He’s not the character he plays.”

Dunne wrote to the circus on Friday, and said that within hours, Dr. Kahanovitz had said that Lubin had been placed on leave. In his statement, Lubin said, “I not only failed Ms. Phillips [Dunne’s maiden name], but I also failed in my responsibility as a man, an adult, a father, and as a representative of the Big Apple Circus.”

‘Grandma’ Clown Resigns After Child Pornography Claims