Ballet dancer

Boston Ballet dancer sues for sexual assault

The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in Nevada, names Mitchell Button as a defendant. He does not name Dusty Button, although he accuses him of engaging in a host of sexual abuse against Humphries, including restraining her while her husband assaulted her.

The lawsuit further alleges that Mitchell Button sexually abused “at least five of his students” while working as a dance instructor in Florida, including an “underage child who was a student in his class for a period of three years, from the age of 13 years.”

Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said her clients have filed suit now in hopes of protecting other young dancers.

“It’s a pair of abusers who are very sophisticated, very manipulative and go on, which is exactly what worries my clients,” said McCawley, managing partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, who has represented several victims of the predator in court. Jeffrey series. Epstein.

A lawyer for the Buttons denied the allegations.

“Taylor and Dusty Button categorically deny these baseless allegations, and they eagerly await the opportunity to rebut all of plaintiffs’ allegations through legal proceedings,” attorney Ken Swartz said in a statement.

The Boston Ballet, where Humphries continues to dance, declined to comment on the matter, releasing a statement instead.

“The Boston Ballet supports Sage Humphries who bravely comes forward, sharing her experience to protect others and seeking accountability and justice,” the statement reads in part. “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.”

The lawsuit, which was first reported by The New York Times, claims Mitchell Button began abusing young dancers more than a decade ago. He claims that his “abuse involved, among other things, forcefully performing oral sex and demanding that it be performed on him”.

Menichino said she first came into his orbit in 2010, when she started taking lessons with him as a 13-year-old dance student at Centerstage Dance Academy in Tampa, Florida.

She added that she had been “intimidated” by Button before and was thrilled when he texted one of his friends to personally work with her on a solo.

“I just like being lit,” she said.

The lawsuit alleges that Button then showed a “special interest” in Menichino, complimenting her body, rehearsing with her alone in the studio and carrying on a sexually explicit text exchange.

The lawsuit claims that on two occasions Button, then 25, fondled Menichino while watching a movie under a blanket, once digitally penetrating her and placing her hand on his penis.

“I was so caught up in this alternate reality,” said Menichino, now 25. “He took me away from my friends, from my family; I isolated myself, he was all that became my world.

Menichino said she then approached police in 2018 to file a criminal case against Button. A police file from the time describes the state’s decision not to press charges, citing lack of evidence.

Button, who has multiple aliases but went by the name “Taylor Moore” at the time, left the studio in late 2010, telling students he was going to be with his girlfriend, Dusty Button, then a college student. Royal Ballet School in London, according to the lawsuit. The couple later married and he took his wife’s surname.

Dusty Button, now a dance celebrity with over 300,000 Instagram followers, joined the Boston Ballet in 2012, quickly rising to the role of principal dancer.

Humphries arrived in 2016 as a member of his apprenticeship program, Boston Ballet II. She said she was once “intimidated” by Button’s dancing and followed her on Instagram.

Humphries, 23, said the lead dancer became friendly once she was offered a contract with the lead company, praising her talent and talking to her frequently. Then, one day in rehearsal, “she said to me: I would like you to meet my husband,” Humphries recalled, “I think you would like him too.”

Over the coming months, the Buttons exercised increasing control over Humphries, the lawsuit alleges, making her drink alcohol, insisting she sleep in their Somerville apartment and covering her expenses. Furthermore, he claims that Mitchell Button took over Humphries’ social media to “make her famous like Dusty”, while discouraging prevent him from having other friendships or talking freely with his family.

“She never talked to us alone again,” said Sage’s mother, Micah Humphries, who added that she finally faced the Buttons. “At that moment, I knew something serious was happening.”

The alleged sexual abuse began when Mitchell Button insisted the three of them watch a movie while lying on a mattress together, according to the lawsuit.

“At some point, Dusty fell asleep,” the suit claims. “Taylor then turned around and began to sexually assault Sage.”

“I was just completely frozen,” Humphries said. “I felt so alone, and I felt very ashamed and violated.”

According to the lawsuit, while on a trip to visit Humphries’ parents in California, the Buttons insisted that the three of them stay alone at the family’s beach house.

There, the suit recounts, “Dusty started kissing Sage, and Taylor soon joined in. They said to Sage, ‘it’s what you want, we can finally be together.'”

“I had no words,” Humphries said. “I felt like I was out of my body, like these things weren’t really happening to me.”

The abuse escalated in Boston, according to the lawsuit, including an incident where the couple tied her arms and legs in a room lined with guns.

“The Buttons then sexually assaulted [Humphries]the lawsuit alleges, claiming that when she started sobbing, begging them to untie her, the “buttons told her she was weak and stupid”.

“I was basically like their little bird in a cage,” said Humphries, who moved in with the Buttons full-time after the trip to California. “I was, like, officially their property, and they wanted total control and access to me all the time.”

Dusty Button’s employment with the Boston Ballet ended abruptly on May 22, 2017. Humphries was performing in “Sleeping Beauty” at the time, when his parents, sensing an opening, flew to Boston intending to to get their daughter back.

The Humphries arrived at the Boston Opera before the show, a rental car waiting outside.

“She was crying,” recalled Sage’s father, Michael Humphries, adding that Ballet staff escorted Sage out of the building before she was supposed to take the stage. “We got to the airport and got out of there.”

In August, Humphries successfully filed for a restraining order against the Buttons.

Plaintiffs’ attorney McCawley said she expects other women who have alleged abuse may eventually join the case.

“A lot of young women we’ve spoken to are terrified,” she said. “It’s understandable in these circumstances, but there is power in numbers. There is power in the light you shine on the abuse.


Malcolm Gay can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @malcolmgay.