15:40 GMT +319 April 2019
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    FILE - This May 6, 2007 file photo shows Barry Lubin, as  Grandma, performing in the Big Apple Circus in Boston. Lubin resigned from the Big Apple Circus following accusations that he pressured a 16-year-old aerialist to pose for pornographic photos.

    Big Apple Circus Clown Resigns After Teen Performer Reports Nude Photo Sessions

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    On Tuesday, Neil Kahanovitz, chairman of the Big Apple Circus, announced that Barry Lubin, one of the company's popular performers, had resigned Friday after it was revealed that he'd pressured an acrobat to pose for nude photos when she was 16.

    Lubin, who portrayed the popular character of Grandma the Clown, confessed to the allegations in a statement released through his lawyer late Tuesday.

    "The allegations are true. What I did was wrong, and I take full responsibility for my actions," the statement said. "I know that what happened has had a lasting impact on her life, for which I am sorry."

    "I not only failed Ms. Phillips, but I also failed my responsibility as a man, an adult, a father and as a representative of the Big Apple Circus," Lubin added.

    James Franco is seen at the Golden Globes Official After Party sponsored by Lindt Chocolate on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, Calif
    © AP Photo / Matt Sayles/Invision for Lindt Chocolate

    The allegations stem from 2004 encounters between Lubin and Zoey Phillips, in which the then-52-year-old performer reached out to the aspiring 16-year-old aerialist to fill in for a position on Big Apple's mini-troupe, according to the New York Times. Before she would be able to join the troupe, though, Lubin wanted her to take a couple modeling photos for his personal photography business.

    Once Phillips met up with Lubin in his trailer, he explained that the photos would be going to a Japanese paint-on tattoo company that would ultimately use the photos to superimpose tattoos. Though Lubin first had the teenager pose in a bathing suit, he quickly requested she take off her underwear. However, after expressing that she was uncomfortable with going nude, Lubin then directed her to put on a thong, spread her legs apart and cover her genitals with a paintbrush.

    By this point, Lubin had explained to Phillips that the pose was necessary so that the tattoo company could photoshop a tattoo onto her inner leg. At the end of the photo session, Lubin paid the acrobat $100 and told her not to tell anyone in the circus because officials would get angry about him using the trailer for non-circus related work.

    That was not the last of the "modeling sessions" between the two: a second meetup was scheduled. Though Phillips initially told Lubin she'd have to cancel because she was feeling unwell, his insistence landed her in his trailer again. In the second session, Lubin reportedly told Phillips that the company had loved the images and that they'd thought she was "one of the sexiest girls they've ever seen."

    After paying Phillips another $100, he stopped asking her to pose for him and kept his word about offering her a job in the circus. Phillips later landed a job in Big Apple's "Circus to Go" troupe.

    Although she eventually quit the circus, it wasn't until 2012 that Phillips reached out to her old employer to inform them about what had happened in the trailer. Unfortunately for Phillips, by the time she told officials nothing could be done because Lubin had already left the company and was living in Sweden. She was also told by New York police officials that charges couldn't be pressed because the statute of limitations had already expired, the Times reported.

    It wasn't until last Friday that Phillips managed to get somewhere with the case. After finding out that Lubin had returned to the circus group, she quickly contacted officials and within hours, she told the Times, Kahanovitz had not only responded to her email, but he'd also informed her that Lubin was put on leave.

    According to Kahanovitz, he was never informed about the allegations from previous executives at the circus.

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    Sexual Misconduct, Barry Lubin, Big Apple Circus, United States
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