Dallas vice squad officer alleges theater director exposed himself in parked car near White Rock Lake; Miller denies wrongdoing
There’s more drama going on behind the scenes in the Dallas theater community lately than there is on the stage.
It focuses on the Dallas Police Department’s vice squad snaring the Dallas Theatre League’s interim president, Doug Miller, in an undercover sting at a public park near White Rock Lake on suspicion of public indecency charges. The controversy appears to be ripping the theater community apart, pitting Miller’s supporters against his detractors.
Miller, who is a prominent theater director, said in an interview that a small group of people had spread information about his legal problems among members of the theater community. A copy of the Web site posting featuring Miller’s photo reportedly was delivered to numerous individuals’ homes and cars, and an actor posted a link to the Web site on his MySpace page.
“There are three people out there who are absolutely out to destroy me,” Miller said. “They are vicious, vicious people in our theater community.”
Miller described the charges against him as “absolutely nothing.”
“They are trying to make a huge deal out of this,” said Miller, whose most recent production was “Valley of the Dolls” at KD Studio Theatre and whose next play, “Twilight of the Golds,” opens Sept. 28 at Uptown Players.
According to a Dallas Police Department report obtained through the police media relations office, Miller was observed by an undercover vice squad officer sitting in his car at Norbuck Park at 100 N. Buckner Blvd. on Aug. 8 at 2:45 p.m. masturbating.
The vice squad officer wrote in his report that he parked next to Miller and began a conversation with him. Miller rubbed his genitals through his slacks, exposed himself, began masturbating and asked the officer to expose himself, according to the police report.
The vice squad officer complimented Miller on the size of his penis and asked if he could get in the car with the theater director before informing him that he was a police officer, according to the police report. Miller was released at the scene, but the vice squad officer filed an affidavit for an arrest warrant against Miller alleging he committed indecent exposure, which is a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. Criminal proceedings are pending against Miller.
When the police report was read to him, Miller said, “Oh my God. That’s ridiculous. That’s the first I’ve heard of that.”
In the interview, Miller denied that he had engaged in the behavior described by the vice squad officer. Miller said he had urinated by a tree in the park, and the vice squad officer had arrested him when he returned to his car.
Miller said both he and his partner, Bob Hess, had been in the park for a picnic near the Bathhouse Cultural Center to celebrate their anniversary. They had met in the park in separate cars, and he was in the process of leaving the park, he said.
Miller asked after the interview if he could submit an “official statement” for the story, saying a “lawyer friend” had suggested it. His statement appears in a sidebar to this story.
Soon after the interview with Miller concluded, his supporters began phoning and e-mailing to urge that his legal problems not be reported. They described Miller as a skilled professional and a warm, giving person. They all referred to Miller’s importance in the theater community and praised his leadership skills.
Lynn Ambrose, a casting director and musical director, said Miller had been instrumental in transforming the Dallas theater scene to its current vibrant status. She said it is painful to see him facing criminal charges and the controversy that has accompanied his photograph and name being published.
“There are a couple of people out there who have said for a long time they will see him buried,” Ambrose said.
Actress Kristin McCollum said she also is concerned about Miller’s reputation, but she has faith in his ability to overcome the controversy.
“I think he can because he has the support and love of so many people,” McCollum said.
Donald Robert Fowler said what Miller does in his private life is no one else’s business.
“Who cares what he does?” Fowler said. “He’s been nothing but positive for the community.”
Actor Ted Wold described Miller in an e-mail as a “trusted friend” and “one of the most valuable assets to the Dallas theater community.” He suggested that the dissension in the theater community could get uglier than it already has.
“When he is attacked, and make no mistake about this, he has been attacked, we are all attacked,” Wold said.
At least a dozen people either called or e-mailed letters in support of Miller, but two people publicly expressed a far different view of him in telephone interviews.
Actor Nye Cooper said he believes Miller’s behavior has harmed the image of the theater community. The actor acknowledges he has a personal grudge against Miller because the director allegedly slept with his boyfriend, who was a former cast member in a play directed by Miller.
“It caused us to break up,” Cooper said. “I don’t believe people should put themselves up on a pedestal and then behave like that.”
Cooper said everyone in the theater community knows that he and Miller are bitter enemies because of what happened.
But Cooper said, Miller has far more detractors in the theater community than he realizes. Directors are powerful, and actors are reluctant to stand up to them, according to members of the theater community.
Cooper said many people are intimidated by Miller and reluctant to let him know how they really feel about him.
“He’s got a lot of people who talk about him behind his back,” Cooper said.
Cooper acknowledged that he was partially responsible for spreading the word about Miller’s legal problems. He put the link to the police department Web site on his MySpace page, but later took it down, he said.
“I did tell a lot of people about it,” Cooper said.
Cooper said he believes the Dallas Theatre League has suffered under Miller’s longtime tenure on the board of directors because the emphasis is only on an annual awards programs known as The Leon Rabin Awards, rather than establishing a strong community organization.
“It has crumbled under his leadership,” Cooper said.
Cooper said he had received strong support from several people in the theater community for taking a stand against Miller.
Sue Loncar, artistic director of the Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, said it is also common knowledge that she and Miller are enemies because she fired him three years ago. She declined to publicly reveal the reason for Miller’s firing.
Loncar denied having anything to do with disseminating information about Miller’s legal problems to the theater community.
“I didn’t have anything to do with it,” Loncar said. “That’s kind of what happens. I get blamed for everything because I fired him, and it deflects from whatever he does to blame me.”
Loncar said she was disappointed to learn about Miller’s legal problems given his high profile because it reflects poorly on the LGBT community as a whole.
“When things like this happen, it’s very discouraging,” Loncar said. “It matters very much.”
Loncar said some straight people may view all gay couples as uncommitted because of Miller.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 21, 2007