NEW YORK (AP) — A lawsuit against the New York City Ballet charges that the company tolerated a “fraternity-like” atmosphere where male dancers abused women and shared nude photos of female dancers with each other.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday by 19-year-old ballerina Alexandra Waterbury names the ballet company and former principal dancer Chase Finlay as defendants.
According to the lawsuit filed in state court in Manhattan, Waterbury, a former student at the company’s School of American Ballet, dated Finlay for a year before last May, when she learned in “the worst nightmare of every woman” that he had been sharing nude photos and sexually explicit videos of her with other men.
The complaint says a group of male dancers regularly shared nude photos of female dancers with each other and understood that “they could degrade, demean, mistreat and abuse, assault and batter women without consequence.”
The lawsuit says a donor wrote to Finlay suggesting that the men should tie ballerinas up “and abuse them like farm animals,” to which Finlay replied, “or like the sluts they are.”
The lawsuit also says Finlay and other dancers trashed a hotel room in Washington, D.C. at a party where they plied underage girls with drugs and alcohol.
Finlay resigned from City Ballet last month as the company was seeking to question him about Waterbury’s allegations. Two other principal dancers accused by Waterbury of sharing explicit photos have been suspended without pay until next year.
City Ballet Chairman Charles Scharf said in a statement that the company “vehemently denies” the allegations that it condoned “the kind of activity that Mr. Finlay and the others named have participated in, which were off-hours activities that were not known, approved, or facilitated by NYCB.”
A lawyer for Finlay, Ira Kleiman, called the lawsuit “nothing more than allegations that should not be taken as fact.”