Dancers allege instructor, wife, sexually abused them

Aug 5, 2021, 2:18 AM | Updated: 2:30 pm

BOSTON (AP) — Two professional dancers have filed a lawsuit alleging that the husband of a former principal dancer with the Boston Ballet sexually assaulted young dancers he was instructing, and that his wife aided in the abuse.

Boston Ballet’s Sage Humphries and another dancer, Gina Menichino, allege in the suit filed in federal court in Nevada that Mitchell Taylor Button and his wife, Dusty Button, used their standing in the dance community to gain the trust of young dancers, “then exploit those relationships to coerce sexual acts by means of force and fraud,” The Boston Globe reported.

The Associated Press does not typically identify victims of sexual assault unless they publicly identify themselves.

The lawsuit also alleges that Mitchell Button sexually abused at least five students while working as a dance instructor in Florida, one beginning when she was 13. It alleges the abuse started a decade ago.

Dusty Button is not named as a defendant but the suit accuses her of engaging in sexual abuses against Humphries, including holding Humphries down during an assault by her husband.

A lawyer for the Buttons said her clients deny the allegations.

“Taylor and Dusty Button categorically deny these baseless claims, and they look forward to the opportunity to disprove all of the plaintiffs’ allegations through court proceedings,” Ken Swartz said in a statement.

An attorney for the dancers said her clients are trying to protect other young dancers.

“This is a pair of perpetrators who are highly sophisticated, highly manipulative, and are continuing, which is exactly what my clients were concerned about,” Sigrid McCawley said.

The Boston Ballet in a statement said it supported Humphries.

“Boston Ballet supports Sage Humphries who is bravely coming forward, sharing her experience to protect others, and seeking accountability and justice,” the statement said. “The Ballet will continue to do everything in its power to create and promote a safe and supportive culture for its students, dancers, staff, and community.”

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This story has been corrected to show that the husband of a former principal dancer with the Boston Ballet, not the dancer, is accused of sexual assault. The dancer is accused of aiding the assault.

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