DSI Comedy Owner Steps Down Amid Posts Alleging Sexual Misconduct, 'Toxic Environment'

DSI Comedy Owner Steps Down Amid Posts Alleging Sexual Misconduct, 'Toxic Environment'

The owner of DSI Comedy is taking an “indefinite leave” from the Chapel Hill theater amid allegations of harassment, sexual misconduct and unfair work practices.

In an emailed statement this afternoon, Zach Ward says if he doesn’t find a buyer, the theater “will likely be no more.”

The announcement comes after several current and former DSI participants have taken to Facebook to discuss a “toxic” environment at the Chapel Hill institution, including a post from a former student and patron who described an allegedly troubling sexual encounter with Ward.

Grace Baldridge Carnes says she penned the post after she heard from others who described being taken advantage of or intimidated by Ward, a driving force of the Triangle’s comedy scene and founder of DSI and the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. Ward, in an email sent Wednesday evening to the DSI company and forwarded to the INDY in response to the newspaper’s request for comment, denied the allegations and announced that shows this week would be postponed  “so our staff and performers can ask questions and reset.” (DSI’s show calendar currently shows the next scheduled events on Tuesday.)…

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