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Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations


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Welcome to Ballet Alert!, DoubleShanks.

I didn't remember from Martins' memoir that he was offered the Royal Danish Ballet AD at the time he choreographed Calcium Light Night.  But I read it long ago.

23 minutes ago, abatt said:

It's fair to conclude that the law firm's legal opinion will address whether Martins' conduct constituted a violation of  employment law, and whether his conduct constituted abuse under the law.

Given Hoey's bio, that's not primarily what she advertises as the service she provides, although that would weigh into it.

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45 minutes ago, minervaave said:

Really?  It's OK for an adult male to date a 16 year old even if they didn't actually have sex?  And according to the LA times, they were publicly dating, not just grabbing coffee together.  I didn't say it was statuatory rape; I said it was sexual predation.  I thought we could agree that in our culture today, an mature adult (not a 19 year old) showing romantic interest in a minor is a line that should not be crossed.  Yes, it happened in the past, and people shrugged it off at the time, but I think with our greater awareness today, we can see that this is predatory behavior.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we are living in a climate in which every statement is being given the most extreme interpretation possible. The LA Times saying they were publicly dating does not for me, immediately translate to predatory behavior.  I was in a ballet company when I was 17 (not world class like NYCB or ABT) and if I went to the ballet and out to eat with a fellow company member who was much older, I didn't look at it a predatory - I still don't.  I'm not saying that's true of everyone in every case, just that I don't want to make an assumption in one direction or another.

 I feel we have be careful how we categorize things and maintain some sense of proportion. 

As a separate but related note.  NYCB sometimes has company members as young as 15. These young people have co-workers that are older. They form friendships & date.  Should the company not be able to hire dancers under 18?

 

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1 minute ago, vipa said:

As a separate but related note.  NYCB sometimes has company members as young as 15. These young people have co-workers that are older. They form friendships & date.  Should the company not be able to hire dancers under 18?

Why should dancers under 18 be responsible for the actions of the people they date?  State law says they can't consent, so it's the responsibility of the people they date, unless they are both under the age of consent, in which case they are jointly responsible.

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13 minutes ago, Helene said:

Why should dancers under 18 be responsible for the actions of the people they date?  State law says they can't consent, so it's the responsibility of the people they date, unless they are both under the age of consent, in which case they are jointly responsible.

Brava. 

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5 minutes ago, Helene said:

Why should dancers under 18 be responsible for the actions of the people they date?  State law says they can't consent, so it's the responsibility of the people they date, unless they are both under the age of consent, in which case they are jointly responsible.

I think I'm getting confused here. I thought age of consent had to do with sexual relationships not public dating.

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12 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

You might want to add "in NYC" to the otherwise too broad statement. I was a legal adult in full consent age by 16.

In most of the US, not just NY  state, but of course local laws do vary. To me, though, this tends to show an attitude towards women and particularly very young women that is at least problematic, and would in many cases if known  disqualify him from a teaching position. For an adult man to date two underaged girls is troubling regardless of whether he had sex with them or not. 

Edited by E Johnson
deleting uncorrected text
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1 hour ago, minervaave said:

Yes, but then he started to get massive negative coverage in the press, all the old skeletons in his closet started getting rehashed (like the assault on Darci Kistler, which really does not look good in 2017) and then he really sealed his fate with his causing a 3 car accident while driving drunk.  After that, he became a liability regardless of what the law firm found out.

That doesn't make the original reasons for the investigation irrelevant (or the results of that investigation, which of course we may never learn). The assault charges made and dropped by Kistler didn't look good back then, either, and caused controversy within the board. Martins is hardly responsible for the press.

As noted previously in the thread, the latest DUI was indeed the straw that broke the camel's etc.....

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34 minutes ago, vipa said:

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we are living in a climate in which every statement is being given the most extreme interpretation possible. The LA Times saying they were publicly dating does not for me, immediately translate to predatory behavior.  I was in a ballet company when I was 17 (not world class like NYCB or ABT) and if I went to the ballet and out to eat with a fellow company member who was much older, I didn't look at it a predatory - I still don't.  I'm not saying that's true of everyone in every case, just that I don't want to make an assumption in one direction or another.

 I feel we have be careful how we categorize things and maintain some sense of proportion. 

As a separate but related note.  NYCB sometimes has company members as young as 15. These young people have co-workers that are older. They form friendships & date.  Should the company not be able to hire dancers under 18?

 

No one would reasonably describe a group of colleagues going out to eat as dating. Dating is an activity undertaken (normally) by 2 people. In this case a person who was 16 and one who was 34. This is precisely the pedophilia activity that there was just outrage against by anyone with any morals in Alabama. I think condemning that is quite proportional.

 

What is not reasonable is extrapolating from this that anyone is suggesting no dancers under 18. What is to be expected is that men over 2x their age will not date them, since it is illegal.

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Perhaps I'm misremembering,  if that's a word,  but wasn't it Balanchine himself who pushed the Martins-Kistler relationship?  Not that that would absolve Martins of responsibility,  but I don't think we should use terms like statutory rape when we don't know if there was any sexual activity.  Back in those days,  when I was growing up too,  "dating" was not synonymous with having sex.  

One constant in Martins' troubles is alcohol -  the DUIs,  the assault on Kistler.  He really needs to address his substance abuse issues,  which seem to bedevil his children as well.  Again,  not an excuse,  but perhaps an explanation.

I don't know what the proper response is to artists who do good,  even great work,  but who are deeply flawed morally.  I mean I still like Woody Allen's movies,  although I have friends who will not watch them because of the odd circumstances of his marriage and his alleged sexual abuse of his daughter.  (In every photo I've seen of the current family,  his adopted daughters' body language speaks volumes - they seem to loathe him.)  It is indeed a quandary,  and I suppose each of us has our own moral lines in the sand.

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25 minutes ago, vipa said:

I think I'm getting confused here. I thought age of consent had to do with sexual relationships not public dating.

You are not confused. The age of consent is the age at which someone can consent to partaking sexual acts. It remains to be seen if the "dating" referenced in previous articles included a sexual relationship. (Reminder that the age of consent in New York might have been even younger at the time of the relationship.) 

Edited by DC Export
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3 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Perhaps I'm misremembering,  if that's a word,  but wasn't it Balanchine himself who pushed the Martins-Kistler relationship?  Not that that would absolve Martins of responsibility,  but I don't think we should use terms like statutory rape when we don't know if there was any sexual activity.  Back in those days,  when I was growing up too,  "dating" was not synonymous with having sex.  

 

Honestly, sex or no sex, I find it absolutely horrifying that so many here think a 34 year old man dating a girl less than half his age is reasonable or acceptable.

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2 minutes ago, aurora said:

No one would reasonably describe a group of colleagues going out to eat as dating. Dating is an activity undertaken (normally) by 2 people. In this case a person who was 16 and one who was 34. This is precisely the pedophilia activity that there was just outrage against by anyone with any morals in Alabama. I think condemning that is quite proportional.

 

What is not reasonable is extrapolating from this that anyone is suggesting no dancers under 18. What is to be expected is that men over 2x their age will not date them, since it is illegal.

I am sorry that I am not being clear. I was not trying to suggest that no one under the age of 18 be hired, only that when 15 and 16 year olds are surrounded by colleagues who are older then they, it is natural for friendships and dating relationships to form between younger and older people. I was also not trying to suggest that when it came to sexual relationships the older person was not the responsible party. 

Granted the age difference between Martins and Kistler was quite large when they were "publicly dating" yet personally I wouldn't characterize it as predatory behavior on that basis alone.  That was my only point. They in fact married and have remained married. I leave it to them to know the nature of their marriage/relationship.

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12 minutes ago, vipa said:

Granted the age difference between Martins and Kistler was quite large when they were "publicly dating" yet personally I wouldn't characterize it as predatory behavior on that basis alone.  That was my only point. They in fact married and have remained married. I leave it to them to know the nature of their marriage/relationship.

If they were in a sexual relationship when he was 34 and she was 16 in NYS, it was whatever the law called/calls it, and isn't up to our judgement.

18 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Back in those days,  when I was growing up too,  "dating" was not synonymous with having sex.  

Considering that Martins was married and a father at 17, and was living with Heather Watts when she was 16 and he an adult,  I'd say the odds that this relationship was chaste are quite slim.  But, of course, that's hardly proof.

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[Thank you for the addition, Helene]

Laws around age of consent and statutory rape have evolved over the past several decades, and cultural tolerance for relationships between minors and adults 5+ years older has shifted but not evaporated.

But I certainly wonder about adults who show a documented pattern of sexual attraction* to and/or engagement with minors or very young adults. Like Martins in his 20s and 30s. 

Did he evolve enough to keep his inclinations just that -- or was he inappropriate with SAB and underage company dancers?

What's been reported publicly is vague enough to keep SAB and NYCB from having to admit legal or ethical complicity...for now.

*covering the "dating may not equal sex" 

Edited by DoubleShanks
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4 minutes ago, Helene said:

 

Considering that Martins was married and a father at 17, and was living with Heather Watts when she was 16 and he an adult,  I'd say the odds that this relationship was chaste are quite slim.  But, of course, that's hardly proof.

We should also consider the fact that Martins is Scandinavian.  That culture has very different ideas about young people being involved in sexual activity.   They generally believe that sex is desirable and don't think it's such a big deal.   For the third time,  not an excuse,  but a possible explanation.  (Didn't Martins woo his first wife away from her husband when he was a teen and she was older?)

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Both Kistler and Watts were company members when he first date/lived with them, but, given the allegations in the original letter that triggered the investigation, the school is in scope of that investigations, according to news reports.

It isn't clear if Hoey is leading both investigations; I got the impression from the first NYT report that SAB was running its own.

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10 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

We should also consider the fact that Martins is Scandinavian.  That culture has very different ideas about young people being involved in sexual activity.   They generally believe that sex is desirable and don't think it's such a big deal.   For the third time,  not an excuse,  but a possible explanation.  (Didn't Martins woo his first wife away from her husband when he was a teen and she was older?)

by the time he got involved with Kistler, at least,  he'd been living here quite a while. I am not sure why we are going out of our way to explain what looks to be predatory behavior. 

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I went back to one of the earlier Washington Post articles mentioned in the thread, this from Dec 4. Possibly behind a paywall 

I'm looking to see if Hinrichs has stated this publicly -- if not it's technically hearsay -- but the Post hasn't printed a retraction in the last month, so.

"Wilhelmina Frankfurt, a former NYCB dancer, said she was among the SAB alumni called in to meet with SAB Executive Director Carrie W. Hinrichs.. [snip] Frankfurt said Hinrichs told her, 'It’s come to our attention that there’s been sexual misconduct on a very high level at our school.'” 

Note the way the statement is presented as fact vs a possibility.

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That statement doesn't say that Martins has been the perpetrator of the sexual misconduct at the School. 

If he wasn't involved, or wasn't the only one, and, Frankfurt's statement is, indeed, accurate, then it happened under his watch, and also under Kay Mazzo's watch.

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47 minutes ago, aurora said:

No one would reasonably describe a group of colleagues going out to eat as dating. Dating is an activity undertaken (normally) by 2 people. In this case a person who was 16 and one who was 34. This is precisely the pedophilia activity that there was just outrage against by anyone with any morals in Alabama. I think condemning that is quite proportional.

I don't disagree with the general sentiment here, but it should be noted (as I have on another related thread) that pedophilia is typically defined (including in the DSM) as sexual attraction to prepubescent children, not simply sex with a minor. There is a big difference, in terms of the psychological ramifications, between the former and the latter — which is not, of course, to suggest that either is acceptable or that both should not be condemned.

Pedophilia is considered a psychological disorder, whereas sexual activity with post-pubescent minor is, in general, more of an issue of law and morality. 

(That's not, of course, to suggest that a propensity toward sex with minors might not itself be an indicator of some underlying psychological disorder — just that such a propensity is not, in itself, a primary indicator. I'm speaking generally here, not about Peter Martins in particular.)

The term pedophilia is at times colloquially used in a broader sense, but I think that keeping in mind its stricter definition is a good idea, since the two types of behavior have such different implications.

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7 minutes ago, nanushka said:

I don't disagree with the general sentiment here, but it should be noted (as I have on another related thread) that pedophilia is typically defined (including in the DSM) as sexual attraction to prepubescent children, not simply sex with a minor. There is a big difference, in terms of the psychological ramifications, between the former and the latter — which is not, of course, to suggest that either is acceptable or that both should not be condemned.

Pedophilia is considered a psychological disorder, whereas sexual activity with post-pubescent minor is, in general, more of an issue of law and morality. 

(That's not, of course, to suggest that a propensity toward sex with minors might not itself be an indicator of some underlying psychological disorder — just that such a propensity is not, in itself, a primary indicator. I'm speaking generally here, not about Peter Martins in particular.)

The term pedophilia is at times colloquially used in a broader sense, but I think that keeping in mind its stricter definition is a good idea, since the two types of behavior have such different implications.

Thank you, nanushka. It's important to be careful with our terms! 

Ephebophilia, referring to an adult's preference for mid-to-late adolescent sexual partners, would be the applicable term in this case. 

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3 hours ago, On Pointe said:

Perhaps I'm misremembering,  if that's a word,  but wasn't it Balanchine himself who pushed the Martins-Kistler relationship?  Not that that would absolve Martins of responsibility,  but I don't think we should use terms like statutory rape when we don't know if there was any sexual activity.  Back in those days,  when I was growing up too,  "dating" was not synonymous with having sex.  

One constant in Martins' troubles is alcohol -  the DUIs,  the assault on Kistler.  He really needs to address his substance abuse issues,  which seem to bedevil his children as well.  Again,  not an excuse,  but perhaps an explanation.

I don't know what the proper response is to artists who do good,  even great work,  but who are deeply flawed morally.  I mean I still like Woody Allen's movies,  although I have friends who will not watch them because of the odd circumstances of his marriage and his alleged sexual abuse of his daughter.  (In every photo I've seen of the current family,  his adopted daughters' body language speaks volumes - they seem to loathe him.)  It is indeed a quandary,  and I suppose each of us has our own moral lines in the sand.

I agree with On Pointe. We don't know that "dating" meant a sexual relationship at that time. And people can mean many different things when they say "dating", from regularly turning up at group social events together, to going out alone together, to sexual relationships.....how do we even know what's being referred to? And I agree that it is most likely the substance abuse that is at the core of all this. I hope Martins is able to address that issue; it is huge. I also wonder about any attempt to "purify" the art world--dance and otherwise-- from every behavior we find problematic. Might we end up with rather boring, but "nice" art?  Artists in all art forms have been notorious throughout history for their rather wild and non-conformist behavior.  It is part of the appeal for most people, I think, when reading biographies of famous artists. Many were very troubled people--should we reject their art because of that? As are many non-artists. Let's face it, we all learn and grow though the process of living; all of us have done some things that at the very least we are not proud of, or think back on with regret. Although I certainly don't condone sexual or physical abuse, I still find myself deeply uneasy about trying to legislate every action between men and women, or between those of the same gender, to conform to a certain set of norms that we currently feel are correct. I expect a lot of criticism coming my way in this thread now, but this is how I feel.

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2 minutes ago, Stage Right said:

I agree with On Pointe. We don't know that "dating" meant a sexual relationship at that time. And people can mean many different things when they say "dating", from regularly turning up at group social events together, to going out alone together, to sexual relationships.....how do we even know what's being referred to? And I agree that it is most likely the substance abuse that is at the core of all this. I hope Martins is able to address that issue; it is huge. I also wonder about any attempt to "purify" the art world--dance and otherwise-- from every behavior we find problematic. Might we end up with rather boring, but "nice" art?  Artists in all art forms have been notorious throughout history for their rather wild and non-conformist behavior.  It is part of the appeal for most people, I think, when reading biographies of famous artists. Many were very troubled people--should we reject their art because of that? As are many non-artists. Let's face it, we all learn and grow though the process of living; all of us have done some things that at the very least we are not proud of, or think back on with regret. Although I certainly don't condone sexual or physical abuse, I still find myself deeply uneasy about trying to legislate every action between men and women, or between those of the same gender, to conform to a certain set of norms that we currently feel are correct. I expect a lot of criticism coming my way in this thread now, but this is how I feel.

There are actually laws preventing adults from dating 16 year olds so we don't need to worry about legislating. If you had a 16yo daughter you would be fine with her dating a 34 year old man?

And this wasn't the 20s or the 50s. This was not a sexually repressed time. He lived (also when he was an adult) with his 16yo gf Heather Watts. Are people going to argue that wasn't a sexual relationship? I mean I suppose that is possible, but it seems highly unlikely.

You don't have to be a creep to be a good artist. But that isn't really what this is about. The issue of "can one enjoy great art made by horrible people?" applies to people like Wagner and Kevin Spacey. This case isn't about rejecting Martins' art (his dancing days are over, and his choreography is lousy), it is that he shouldn't be in a position where he is able to continue such behavior.

Nor do you have to be an artist to be a creep, for that matter. Did you think the behavior described by Roy Moore, which was denounced almost across the board was acceptable? This is virtually the same thing, yet because he is an "artist" people here seem to want to give him a pass.

 

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