A former principal ballet dancer with the English National Ballet has been sentenced to nine years in prison for more than a dozen counts of assault and rape against his students.
Yat-Sen Chang, 49, was convicted in a London court in May of 13 charges, including a student who said the dance teacher forced her to have sex, according to The Guardian.
Chang began his sentence on Wednesday, a day after world ballet daywhich is celebrated every year.
At the hearing, Judge Edward Connell told the court that the “internationally renowned” dancer had used his “fame and prestige” to manipulate and abuse the young women under his care at the Young Dancers Academy in London and with ENB, between December 2009 and March 2016.
His victims, aged between 16 and 18 at the time, claimed that Chang – himself the father of a grown daughter – touched them inappropriately during post-workout massages.
“You became emboldened when the young women did not report your conduct,” Judge Connell told Chang on Wednesday. “Your offense had a profound impact on all of your victims and you have shown no remorse for your appalling behavior.”
As one of Chang’s victims testified: “He ruined most of my late teens. I hope he faces what he did with regret and pain. I still feel haunted, violated, ashamed and humiliated.
She said she initially described his behavior as “nice”, but as she got older she “became more and more disgusted with what had happened” with Chang, who told the court that he had “no idea” why the women had allegedly been assaulted.
Her lawyer, Kathryn Hirst, reiterated that the ballerina was “not guilty in these cases”, but ultimately “accepted[ed] the verdicts of the jurors.
Born in Cuba, Chang began his illustrious career as a dancer at Cuba’s National Ballet School before working in France and then the UK, where he was offered a contract to dance and lead dance programs in Cuba. ‘summer. His productions with the English Conservatory included The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Sleeping Beauty, until he quit his starring role in 2011, when his sole focus became running the school.
The ENB released a statement after Chang’s sentencing on Wednesday to say they were “appalled” by the allegations. “The English National Ballet has been shocked and concerned to learn of the wrongdoings of a former dancer with the company,” they said. “Our hearts go out to the victims who have shown bravery and strength in raising their voices.”