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Finlay Resigns, Catazaro and Ramasar Suspended -- Update: Catazaro and Ramasar Fired

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9 hours ago, Helene said:

So they didn't distribute inappropriate videos and/or photos of their co-workers? Ramasar didn't actively solicit them and make demeaning comments about them? They participated at knifepoint?

IIRC, Waterbury’s complaint doesn’t say what Catazaro distributed. They might have been stock nudes from paid models on his own time, off company premises, i.e. not a crime and only involving NYCB because he happens to dance there. 

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43 minutes ago, BalanchineFan said:

IIRC, Waterbury’s complaint doesn’t say what Catazaro distributed. They might have been stock nudes from paid models on his own time, off company premises, i.e. not a crime and only involving NYCB because he happens to dance there. 

When Catarazo was suspended, NYCB said that the investigation was based on communications provided by/on behalf of Waterbury, and there was enough that was inappropriate for a suspension at the same level of Ramasar, and now, to be fired.  It's not just the complaint that indicates inappropriate behavior, and the decision to fire was based on feedback from the Company.  While it's possible that his colleagues and co-workers were uncomfortable with him because he distributed stock nudes from paid models on his own time, it's a rather distant possibility, based on the actions the Company took, and based on willingness to go head to head with AGMA over it.

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15 minutes ago, Helene said:

When Catarazo was suspended, NYCB said that the investigation was based on communications provided by/on behalf of Waterbury, and there was enough that was inappropriate for a suspension at the same level of Ramasar, and now, to be fired.  It's not just the complaint that indicates inappropriate behavior, and the decision to fire was based on feedback from the Company.  While it's possible that his colleagues and co-workers were uncomfortable with him because he distributed stock nudes from paid models on his own time, it's a rather distant possibility, based on the actions the Company took, and based on willingness to go head to head with AGMA over it.

We don't  know that company is exactly willing to go head to head with AGMA.  They probably don't have a choice  -  there's usually a binding arbitration agreement for dispute resolution in company contracts.  One thing,  as a number of NYCB personnel have posted statements of support for Ramasar and Catazaro,  NYCB leadership can't say that they're  being let go because company members think it best.  Some company members want them gone,  not all.  Either way,  their employment contract should not be subject to what is in effect a popularity contest.

It's curious that some company employees are so distracted by the presence of Ramasar and Catazaro that they want them gone,  but apparently no one went to AGMA about the dangers of being partnered by an alcohol abuser,  or being obliged to work with an alleged rapist and domestic violence abuser - the one who,  according to Waterbury's complaint,  everybody knew about and talked about.

A thought that came to me - while it may not make a difference  in the outcome of  this  situation,  Ms. Waterbury's  story of how she discovered that offensive material was being passed around seems suspect.  Why would she need Chase Finlay's computer to "check her email"?  Hard to believe she wouldn't  have a smart phone or tablet of her own on her person.  Models often get last minute calls for go-sees and auditions,  and being reachable is a basic requirement of the job.    Model or not,  a twenty year old who didn't have her own device is a rarity.  (It would be rare for a twelve year old in NYC.)  Perhaps she had another reason to search through Finlay's emails  and discovered by accident that he was sending out nude photos of her.

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2 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

We don't  know that company is exactly willing to go head to head with AGMA.  They probably don't have a choice  -  there's usually a binding arbitration agreement for dispute resolution in company contracts. 

AGMA did not say that they disputed the suspensions.  When a company crosses the firing line, that is tantamount to saying they are willing to see it through.

 

4 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

NYCB leadership can't say that they're  being let go because company members think it best. 

The statement from the Stafford and Brown is, "After further assessment of their conduct and its impact on the NYCB community, the decision has been made to terminate Catazaro and Ramasar."  They didn't say they took a poll or a vote.

9 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

It's curious that some company employees are so distracted by the presence of Ramasar and Catazaro that they want them gone,  but apparently no one went to AGMA about the dangers of being partnered by an alcohol abuser,  or being obliged to work with an alleged rapist and domestic violence abuser - the one who,  according to Waterbury's complaint,  everybody knew about and talked about.

This is not apparent to me: not every complaint is made public, and many would-be complaints are warded off by a conversation about the odds of a complaint succeeding to cause more good than harm. And even if none were made or contemplated, it would take a unified effort to avoid being ostracized as a whistle blower.

 

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This whole situation has made me very sad from the moment the first article was published, but I was especially saddened today to read Ramasar and Catazaro's posts on the matter: regardless of what really happened, neither of them acknowledged the hurt that everyone else has been feeling (Waterbury, colleagues, fans...) Posting about how you are a such an honorable person blah blah blah does not make it so; what's honorable is to recognize and validate someone else's pain, particularly in such an icky situation as this. Without saying anything that would entangle the legal side of the case, each of them could have taken the chance to acknowledge the very real hurt that's happening NOW, rather than boasting about previous accomplishments in the world of City Ballet. The world is a better place when humans are able to step outside of their own self-focussed bubbles. Unfortunately, Ramasar and Catazaro have not done that in their public statements, and I fear that peace for City Ballet, Waterbury, etc. will be slow to come.

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40 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Model or not,  a twenty year old who didn't have her own device is a rarity.  

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But a 20-year-old who let her phone go dead because she, say, forgot her charger at home would not be a rarity.

While I generally agree with you that the way Waterbury discovered the images could be a point of contention - while SMS's "pop up" on an Apple device, email alerts show only a subject line and require an additional "click" to read their contents - she might have reason to use Finlay's computer.

It will be interesting to hear what Ramasar has to say about his actions in the explanation he has promised and what Catazaro has to say in his case for reinstatement. I assume Finlay will keep mum, since he's the only one who seems to be facing criminal charges, and "anything you say may be used against you in a court of law."

 

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8 hours ago, Quiggin said:

 What these employees did on their own time, in "non-work-related activity," greatly compromised the image and "good will" City Ballet and all its members have tried to build up over the years. Maybe it's a bit precious, but that's the Ballet's choice. 

I'm reminded of those guys in the tiki march in Charlottesville last year (on a weekend) who were identified, thanks to social media, and then fired by their employers. Again, not strictly analogous, but we don't know if there's language in the dancer contract about behavior outside work hours that reflects badly on NYCB. 

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Did Catazaro deny receiving Waterbury's explicit photos, or just that he did not ask for them?

"I did not initiate, was not involved in, or associated with any of Alexandra Waterbury's personal material that was allegedly shared with others."

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14 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

"A tsunami of sexts just up and engulfed me!"

I too found this hilarious! I definitely needed a good laugh in this otherwise very serious and mind-blowing situation/thread. 

Adults have no excuse. I wonder if Ramasar and Catazaro are going to release public statements (besides what they've already done) or give interviews explaining their sides. Or, how is it that they're going to tell their stories? Will they sue NYCB? 

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8 hours ago, On Pointe said:

A thought that came to me - while it may not make a difference  in the outcome of  this  situation,  Ms. Waterbury's  story of how she discovered that offensive material was being passed around seems suspect.  Why would she need Chase Finlay's computer to "check her email"?  Hard to believe she wouldn't  have a smart phone or tablet of her own on her person.  Models often get last minute calls for go-sees and auditions,  and being reachable is a basic requirement of the job.    Model or not,  a twenty year old who didn't have her own device is a rarity.  (It would be rare for a twelve year old in NYC.)  Perhaps she had another reason to search through Finlay's emails  and discovered by accident that he was sending out nude photos of her.

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I actually didn't find that part unusual. If I anticipate having to get through a bunch of e-mails, and ones that require responses and/or attachments to be reviewed, I prefer to use a laptop. She also probably has at least two e-mail addresses -- a personal one and a Columbia one -- and it's possible she doesn't have all of them connected to her phone. Also, it's easy for someone of any age to let their phone die or misplace it somewhere in an apartment. 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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8 hours ago, pirouetta27 said:

This whole situation has made me very sad from the moment the first article was published, but I was especially saddened today to read Ramasar and Catazaro's posts on the matter: regardless of what really happened, neither of them acknowledged the hurt that everyone else has been feeling (Waterbury, colleagues, fans...) Posting about how you are a such an honorable person blah blah blah does not make it so; what's honorable is to recognize and validate someone else's pain, particularly in such an icky situation as this. Without saying anything that would entangle the legal side of the case, each of them could have taken the chance to acknowledge the very real hurt that's happening NOW, rather than boasting about previous accomplishments in the world of City Ballet. The world is a better place when humans are able to step outside of their own self-focussed bubbles. Unfortunately, Ramasar and Catazaro have not done that in their public statements, and I fear that peace for City Ballet, Waterbury, etc. will be slow to come.

When  attacked,  people  tend  to  fight back.  Validating the feelings of the attacker is not their foremost concern.  Ms. Waterbury's complaint arbitrarily disclosed the names of at least two people who were not principals in this case,  likely causing them great embarrassment  and possible damage to their careers.  It's  still not clear why Zachary Catazaro was fired,  as he maintains he had nothing to do with the Finlay-Waterbury  material,  and that his off-duty activities were lawful.  But that hasn't stopped many from condemning him,  evidence unknown.  Catazaro has feelings,  too.

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9 hours ago, Helene said:

AGMA did not say that they disputed the suspensions.  When a company crosses the firing line, that is tantamount to saying they are willing to see it through.

 

The statement from the Stafford and Brown is, "After further assessment of their conduct and its impact on the NYCB community, the decision has been made to terminate Catazaro and Ramasar."  They didn't say they took a poll or a vote.

This is not apparent to me: not every complaint is made public, and many would-be complaints are warded off by a conversation about the odds of a complaint succeeding to cause more good than harm. And even if none were made or contemplated, it would take a unified effort to avoid being ostracized as a whistle blower.

 

AGMA does not automatically insert itself in disputes.  Catazaro and Ramasar could have accepted their suspensions,  but being fired,  with great fanfare,  was too much.  They filed a complaint with their union,  which is their right,  and NYCB must come to the table,  which is their responsibility.

I wouldn't characterize expressing trepidation at being partnered by an impaired person or an accused domestic abuser as "whistleblowing".   If a dancer is afraid of being dropped by a drunk,  what other people think about it is not a likely consideration.  I don't get why fear of being ostracized is a concern.  This isn't high school.

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5 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

I wouldn't characterize expressing trepidation at being partnered by an impaired person or an accused domestic abuser as "whistleblowing".   If a dancer is afraid of being dropped by a drunk,  what other people think about it is not a likely consideration.  I don't get why fear of being ostracized is a concern.  This isn't high school.

No it is a community. And Ramasar, in particular, seems to be quite popular. See how people here and on instagram are fawning over him. You really can't understand why someone might be leery of speaking out publicly and being ostracized?

 

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41 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

When  attacked,  people  tend  to  fight back.  Validating the feelings of the attacker is not their foremost concern.  Ms. Waterbury's complaint arbitrarily disclosed the names of at least two people who were not principals in this case,  likely causing them great embarrassment  and possible damage to their careers.  It's  still not clear why Zachary Catazaro was fired,  as he maintains he had nothing to do with the Finlay-Waterbury  material,  and that his off-duty activities were lawful.  But that hasn't stopped many from condemning him,  evidence unknown.  Catazaro has feelings,  too.

A decent human being would acknowledge the harm done to the victim in this case, that is Alexandra Waterbury, whose images and video we know from the case were received by Ramasar. It would behoove anyone who at least wanted to create a pretense that they are a decent human, to acknowledge (and apologize) for the part they played in her humiliation and betrayal.

(I do not speak to Catazaro's situation because as you say, it is less clear from the publicly available material, precisely what role he played in all this).

 

Given the activities they are accused of, I'm not sure why anyone should, at this moment, be more concerned with their feelings and their embarrassment, than those of the girlfriends and coworkers they traded images of for sexual gratification, and treated like garbage.

 

Edited by aurora

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12 hours ago, Quiggin said:

I don't think that argument, which was also used in the comments on Macaulay's Instagram page, holds up. What these employees did on their own time, in "non-work-related activity," greatly compromised the image and "good will" City Ballet and all its members have tried to build up over the years. Maybe it's a bit precious, but that's the Ballet's choice. If say an employee of the General Motors design department had written crude and disparaging remarks about the esthetics of a car model on his or her own time and at home and it had gone to the wrong person and been made public, that person too would have been fired. Of course, that's only a narrow parallel, and doesn't take into consideration all the broader workplace factors.

This is one of the differences between being at at-will employee and an employee with a contract. An at-will employee may be fired at any time for anything, so long as the termination is not illegal (e.g., discriminatory). Similarly, an at-will employee can quit at any time. 

Contract employees can generally only generally be fired for specific reasons, which are outlined in the contact. They cannot quit at any time -- they have to work until the end of the contract, or the employer can sue for damages. As others have pointed out, it is to AGMA's benefit (and the dancers' in general) to ensure that the contract terms are enforced, even if the specific behavior in this case was unsavory. 

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9 hours ago, On Pointe said:

It's curious that some company employees are so distracted by the presence of Ramasar and Catazaro that they want them gone,  but apparently no one went to AGMA about the dangers of being partnered by an alcohol abuser,  or being obliged to work with an alleged rapist and domestic violence abuser - the one who,  according to Waterbury's complaint,  everybody knew about and talked about.

Has anyone who is in a position to know said that being "distracted by the presence of Ramasar and Catazaro" is the rationale for their dismissal? Or that being partnered by them is the issue?

Might it be that members of the company as well as other NYCB employees (rightly or wrongly) believe that Ramasar and Catazaro's behavior warrants sanction, both because it was wrong and to publicly demonstrate that it will no longer be tolerated? 

Because I don't know the specifics of the alleged infractions, I'm loathe to make a judgment as to whether or not the dismissals were warranted. If these men in fact shared explicit photos of NYCB employees without their knowledge and consent, I would consider it a firing offense, whether the sharing happened during work hours in the workplace or not. I'd also consider it a firing offense If these men made derogatory comments about NYCB employees based on their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, or disability, whether it happened during working hours in the workplace or not.

AGMA does have a procedure for reporting a hostile work environment, and they describe what kind of behavior might be deemed to create such an environment. The definition of "workplace" is narrow, however (see my emphasis below).

"Depending on the circumstances, and under AGMA contracts even if not in violation of a law, the following conduct may constitute discriminatory harassment based on an individual’s race, color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, marital status, veteran status, or physical or mental disability: epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, jokes, or threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts, and/or written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility towards an individual or group that is circulated in the workplace or placed anywhere in the employer’s premises, such as on an employee’s desk or workspace, or on the employer’s equipment or bulletin boards."

I'm generally very wary of allowing employers to fire, suspend, demote, re-assign, or otherwise affect the employment of someone based on private behavior. But I'm equally uncomfortable with private behavior that doesn't stay private and thereby contributes to a hostile work environment. I'm willing to admit its a puzzle I haven't solved.

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9 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Might it be that members of the company as well as other NYCB employees (rightly or wrongly) believe that Ramasar and Catazaro's behavior warrants sanction, both because it was wrong and to publicly demonstrate that it will no longer be tolerated? 

I would think that the dancers are just as concerned about the company's public image as the company's directors and board members are. Whether or not some female dancers actually feel uncomfortable around Ramasar and Catazaro, nobody wants the company to be associated with accusations of rampant sexual misconduct. Cutting ties with the men named in Waterbury's case -- rightfully or not -- is obviously a PR move. 

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1 hour ago, On Pointe said:

They filed a complaint with their union,  which is their right,  and NYCB must come to the table,  which is their responsibility.

It's absolutely their right.  And it is absolutely NYCB's responsibility.  By going the step further to fire the dancers, the Company knew very well that the dancers and/or union would have considered this "too much," and that they would have to be ready to defend its decision using its resources.  And they were willing to do so.

1 hour ago, On Pointe said:

I wouldn't characterize expressing trepidation at being partnered by an impaired person or an accused domestic abuser as "whistleblowing".   If a dancer is afraid of being dropped by a drunk,  what other people think about it is not a likely consideration.  I don't get why fear of being ostracized is a concern. 

Any complaint can be considered "whistleblowing," regardless of the validity of the complaint, whether it's "XYZ came in intoxicated to rehearsal" or "I don't want to work with a drug-using, partner-abusing colleague." That's after being called "snowflake," being told to "grow a spine," "grow some balls," and accused of destroying the social fabric. If a complaint is considered valid -- and the latter might not be -- and it is accepted and pursued, it is investigated, other people are brought in and questioned, and, word gets around in the biggest, most distributed organizations.

From the quotes in the complaints, and the lightly-veiled side-taking in social media, apparently it is high school, but it think there it would be described as "ratting [x] out" or being a "squeal" or "snitch," which is very low on the social totem pole.

4 hours ago, Rick said:

Did Catazaro deny receiving Waterbury's explicit photos, or just that he did not ask for them?

"I did not initiate, was not involved in, or associated with any of Alexandra Waterbury's personal material that was allegedly shared with others."

It's clear what he means for the reader to conclude, but it could mean several things.  However, according to the complaint, there were images of other NYCB dancers distributed besides Waterbury, and Waterbury never in the complaint accuses Catazaro from having anything to do with her images: she cites his suspension.  And the Company never gave specifics about the contents, subjects, or scope of the communications, just that they violated company norms.

While it is possible that NYCB would be willing to go to arbitration with AGMA and possibly be named in and face additional lawsuits over a dancer who was sent communications with images of and/or demeaning comments about co-workers and then neither forwarded them nor commented upon them, but was an unwilling recipient who simply didn't report them, I don't think it's probable, given how circumspect the Company statements have been and how they have access to top-notch legal resources.

 

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14 minutes ago, JuliaJ said:

I would think that the dancers are just as concerned about the company's public image as the company's directors and board members are. Whether or not some female dancers actually feel uncomfortable around Ramasar and Catazaro, nobody wants the company to be associated with accusations of rampant sexual misconduct. Cutting ties with the men named in Waterbury's case -- rightfully or not -- is obviously a PR move. 

It could be, although I think we have to admit that we're mostly just speculating here.

Regardless, as On Pointe has correctly stated, the provisions of the AGMA agreement are as relevant as what the dancers, individually and as a community, might believe is appropriate. The union is there for a very good reason, but sometimes it giveth and sometimes it taketh away. Human affairs are messy that way. 

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5 hours ago, Rick said:

Did Catazaro deny receiving Waterbury's explicit photos, or just that he did not ask for them?

"I did not initiate, was not involved in, or associated with any of Alexandra Waterbury's personal material that was allegedly shared with others."

Yes he stated that he had no involvement with Waterbury's allegations. There were mentions in the lawsuit of 'other' sharing of texts but it was not attached to Waterbury herself. If this is the case then the firings are collateral in the fallout over the lawsuit and subsequent press.

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27 minutes ago, fordhambae said:

Yes he stated that he had no involvement with Waterbury's allegations. There were mentions in the lawsuit of 'other' sharing of texts but it was not attached to Waterbury herself.

No, he stated he had nothing to do with Waterbury's personal material, not that he had no involvement with Waterbury's allegations about him.  Waterbury's complaint only mentions him in the context of having been suspended, which is meant to show that NYCB was responsible for the environment in which she was violated.  So there are no specific public allegations that Waterbury made against him with regard to any communications, even if the material she presented to NYCB showed his involvement, which we don't know.  We know that NYCB investigated, which may mean only what she provided or if the investigation brought up more material.

What we do know is that NYCB investigated and initially suspended him, and then fired him based on whatever they had, plus a re-evaluation of the penalty.  We also know that NYCB tied their decision to fire him and Ramasar to the workplace:

Quote

A workplace where our dancers and staff feel respected and valued is our highest obligation, and we will not allow the private actions of a few to undermine the hard work and strength of character that has consistently been demonstrated by the other members of our community, or the excellence for which the Company stands.

While we still don't know the details, we know what the Company considers the ties, which is more than we knew when the suspensions were announced.

 

20 hours ago, balanchinefreak said:

Great. We'll find out exactly what happened WRT Catazaro and Ramasar. It's very unclear to me.

Likely only if the press is alerted: typically, decisions are announced in high-level legal terms: either the Company had the right to fire the dancers or it didn't.

 

Edited to add:  I meant to link this video, which might read quite a bit differently now than when it was first released:

 

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17 minutes ago, Helene said:
17 minutes ago, Helene said:

 

Edited to add:  I meant to link this video, which might read quite a bit differently now than when it was first released:

 

 

 

 

Like so many NYCB videos, this one is done very well (they really are a leader in the performing arts when it comes to video content). But the ending even creeped me out when the video was first released. It basically states that money buys you access to young, pretty dancers. The ending is edited to feel like a meet cute from a rom com. This would have been mitigated if they had either LeCrone or the man in the company of other men and women in the final scene.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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1 hour ago, JuliaJ said:

I would think that the dancers are just as concerned about the company's public image as the company's directors and board members are. Whether or not some female dancers actually feel uncomfortable around Ramasar and Catazaro, nobody wants the company to be associated with accusations of rampant sexual misconduct. Cutting ties with the men named in Waterbury's case -- rightfully or not -- is obviously a PR move. 

Catazaro wasn't named in Waterbury's case except as an example of dancers NYCB suspended.   Their decision to suspend Catazaro was a result of their investigation.  The company said it took the concerns of dancers', staff members', and "other members of the NYCB community" into consideration in making the decision to fire, but those considerations were not specified.  It would not be at all surprising if the concerns ran the gamut, and NYCB was under no obligation to weight any specific concern equally or at all.

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As has been noted before, the legal complaint filed by Ms. Waterbury is rather sloppily drafted and difficult to parse. There are many references throughout to a NYCB Principal dancer who is not named, but who is alleged to have taken part in some of the more egregious activity described in the document: 

Mr. Finlay and another NEW YORK CITY BALLET, INC., principal boasted that they were going to "double team" a religious female corps member at NEW YORK CITY BALLET, INC. and "leave her with no choice." Of course, Mr. Finlay wanted to video that too and wrote "that would be ultimate sex persuasion." (Par. 32)

Defendant CHASE FINLAY also repeatedly asked another NEW YORK CITY BALLET, INC. principal for explicit photographs of a female Ballet member which were shared by the Principal on demand. The two also engaged in a group chat with another male Ballet member who suggested the three men "...get like half a kilo [of cocaine] and pour it over the [female ballet members] and just violate them" to which defendant responded with two 'thumbs-up' emoticons. (Par. 55)

I'm curious as to whether NYCB knows who this dancer is, and if so, whether they've taken any action against him, and if so, what it was and why it hasn't been made public. And if not, why not. Perhaps Ms. Waterbury and her lawyers never revealed his name or perhaps the claims were unsubstantiated. The charges in Par. 55 are very similar to those attributed to the Donor in Par 27; perhaps it's bad drafting and separate incidents are being conflated. 

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1 hour ago, fondoffouettes said:

Like so many NYCB videos, this one is done very well (they really are a leader in the performing arts when it comes to video content). But the ending even creeped me out when the video was first released. It basically states that money buys you access to young, pretty dancers. The ending is edited to feel like a meet cute from a rom com. This would have been mitigated if they had either LeCrone or the man in the company of other men and women in the final scene.

I also remember when this video was released and thought the last scene could be interpreted in a way that likely was not intended. However, I don't think it would be fair to cast the entire Young Patrons group in a negative light because of the actions of one of its members and this video. I closely follow the dancers on social media and especially since the advent of Instagram Stories, one can see that their social interaction outside of the company is minimal. I am not saying that is a healthy thing, but mention that to point out that the social interaction between dancers and Young Patrons is minimal. I had also previously noticed through social media that one of the Young Patrons was quite close to Finlay and Catazaro and will just say that his posts were quite unlike others who interact with company members or involved in the arts in general. I also noticed that this individual deleted a number of posts which tagged Finlay, Catazaro and Ramasar after the company announced they had identified the Young Patron who was referenced in Waterbury's legal claim.

I think the company has done a laudable job of cultivating a younger audience with initiatives such as the Young Patrons, Art Series nights and their programming, and I think that doing so is critical to the future of the company and ballet. I have met a number of the Young Patrons over the years and their interest in ballet is encouraging for the future of the art form. Those interactions coupled with what I said above, lead me to think this is a case of one bad apple rather than the bunch. I hope the company continues its efforts in broadening its audience and that this unfortunate episode does not derail the positive momentum that they have created with the younger generation.

Also I hope that the management at NYCB has shared what they know regarding this individual with their counterparts at ABT, since the content of his messages would indicate that he is likely involved with their company as well.

Edited by Longtimelurker
Added thought about ABT

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