Watch CBS News

"Grandma the Clown" admits to pressuring teen to take pornographic photos, resigns from circus: report

Grandma the Clown resigns
NYT: "Grandma The Clown" resigned after misconduct allegation 00:26

The man who performed as the beloved "Grandma the Clown" for decades has resigned from the Big Apple Circus after being accused of sexual misconduct, The New York Times reported Tuesday. Barry Lubin, 65, admitted in a statement from his lawyer that he pressured the teen aerialist into nude photographs in 2004. 

Lubin resigned on Friday after a woman, then a 16-year-old aerialist, came forward and accused him of pressuring her to pose naked in photos, the circus' chairman Dr. Neil Kahanovitz told the Times. 

"The allegations are true," Lubin said through his lawyer. "What I did was wrong and I take responsibility for my actions."

The woman, now 29, initially contacted the circus about her allegations against Lubin in 2012, but was told by a circus official they couldn't do anything about it because he had left Big Apple at that point. 

When ads with "Grandma is back" starting popping up on her Facebook feed three months ago, the woman learned Lubin was rehired and decided to bring her accusations to Big Apple.  

In a tweet dated January 19, the Big Apple Circus's Twitter account appears to promote an image featuring "Grandma the Clown" with R&B superstar John Legend and his family.  Big Apple Circus

Kahanovitz, who was not in charge in 2012, said he wasn't aware of any allegations until Friday and added no one in company from then was still working with the circus. 

As of Tuesday evening, CBS News found one ad featuring "Grandma" on Big Apple Circus' Facebook and Twitter accounts. It showed Lubin posing with music star John Legend and his child. 

In the woman's account to the Times, she said first met Lubin at children's circus camp in Vermont where he taught as recently as last summer. In 2004, he contacted her and offered her work with Big Apple's mini-troupe with one caveat: She had to model for his "personal photography business" first. 

During their photo session, she said she took off her underwear and posed on a bed. She said Lubin later told her his Japan-based clients said, "You're one of the sexiest girls they've ever seen." 

Despite her failed previous attempt to shed light on Lubin's behavior, she said she wrote a letter to Big Apple detailing her harrowing experience with him. This time, Kahanovitz would place Lubin on leave, according to the Times. 

In his statement, Lubin directly apologized to the woman. 

"I know that what happened has had a lasting impact on her life, for which I am sorry," Lubin said. "I not only failed [the woman], but I also failed in my responsibility as a man, an adult, a father, and as a representative of the Big Apple Circus."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.