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

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"Rotten to the core"?   James Levine was known to have engaged in far worse conduct than Finlay and company,  and he was the Metropolitan  Opera's artistic head,  but no one described the opera company in those terms.  Likewise Matt Lauer at NBC and Charlie Rose at CBS and PBS - no one condemns the entire network for their actions.  Les Moonves is about to land to earth in a $100 million dollar parachute,  and many people knew how he exploited women and actively tried to destroy the careers of Ileana Douglas and Janet Jackson.

Chris Rock famously said that "a man is only as faithful as his options" - if they can get away with bad behavior,  some men will behave badly.    There was nothing that NYCB could be reasonably been expected to do that would have prevented Ms. Waterbury's abuse.  All they can do is react,  and make clear going forward that such activities could lead to being fired.  (Finlay and Ramasar could have forwarded photos to members of the company who didn't  ask for them and didn't  approve of their activities.  It would be grossly unfair to punish them for the actions of others.)

I don't  know Ms. Waterbury's motives or state of mind regarding this matter.  But it's  not unfair or inaccurate for NYCB to mention that she first sought a financial payout.  She did,  and if she had received it,  none of us would have known anything about this tawdry episode.  

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36 minutes ago, Rick said:

I think we're both splitting hairs. It seems obvious to me that "parties", in the context of the paragraph mentioning the donor, implied New York City Ballet sponsored events. But we can disagree.

I read that as indicating private parties. 

Edited by bcash

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7 minutes ago, minervaave said:

According to the complaint, the donor actually hosted parties and gave speeches at them, including one where the microphone had to be cut because he was so drunk.  That doesn’t sound like a couple of friends getting together and having a party - microphones and speeches and someone else cutting the mike strongly imply that this was a formal event.  And I can guarantee you that no major non-profit in NYC lets a low level donor host one of their events.  That is a privilege exclusively limited to VIPs.  Also, anyone who thinks this sort of behavior is limited to the young and foolish should probably read a little bit more about the behavior of NY’s monied elite.  It doesn’t surprise me at all.

No, it doesn't sound like a few friends getting together, but it needn't have been a charity event for there to be speeches and a microphone. It could have been a wedding, a big birthday bash, a retirement party, a bar mitzvah, the celebration of a special achievement - who knows? And the point is, we don't know. 

I haven't decided if the complaint is one of the sloppiest I've read or one of the most clever. As a coherent narrative of the facts and a robust presentation of the theory of the case, it leaves something to be desired. However, that very sloppiness allows us to draw damning inferences based on very few concrete details. For instance, the complaint doesn't say the donor was a "major donor" or an "important donor," nor does it state explicitly that the behavior took place at NYCB-sponsored events. It doesn't explain how or why NYCB would have knowledge of the donor's behavior. It merely states that the donor hosted parties, encouraged excessive alcohol consumption, and had his mike cut; it then states that the company took his money and allowed him to attend its events "regardless of his behavior." It leaves us to infer that that behavior took place at NYCB events, but doesn't say that it did.

Look, I'm not saying that the donor wasn't a major check-writer, or that he didn't behave badly at NYCB events. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if that were the case. (Frankly, nothing in the complaint would surprise me, although it would certainly sadden and disgust me.) But the complaint doesn't come right out and say that. It could be because it is badly written, or it could be by design.

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18 hours ago, sappho said:

I'm a millennial. I'm not in the dance world, but I am in academia, whose power structures can resemble those in the arts: a mandatory 'apprenticeship' (grad school) requiring unbelievable amounts of time/money before you're even allowed to interview for salaried jobs, heavy competition for a dwindling number of jobs (many just fellowships), a huge amount of overlap between professional and social activities, insular communities, superstars who are seen as indispensable to the profession, gender imbalances at the upper levels of the profession, huge amount of leeway given to 'boy geniuses'... and so forth.

Anyway, I hope it's not breaking forum rules to express my sadness at how many times Finlay, Ramasar, and Catazaro's artistry has been mentioned in this conversation. My sadness at how worries about their lives being ruined and what their absence might mean for the audience's experience seem to be much more passionately stated here than concern for Alexandra and the women of NYCB.

I am so indescribably angry and sad about what has happened to them. I'm also mortified that more people aren't angry. And -- and this is where the comment about academia comes in -- I'm scared, because whenever I see the reaction to something like this happening in the dance world, it feels like a preview of what might happen in my world if I or women I knew had to report sexual harassment or worse. The insistence on defending people on the basis of their contributions to the field, the denial of institutional responsibility, the worries about (statistically rare) false accusations, everything.

Thank you, you put into words what I could not. 

I’m a xennial myself, but I also feel mortified while reading people worry about the men involved. 

Taking and circulating naked photos with no consent? If true, that in itself should mean those people should never work in NYCB again, though I guess suspension is considered enough by the administration for such a violation. 

Edited by elena

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Indeed the complaint is confusing in that it attributes the same degrading statement to two different individuals.  Another problem is that we don't know how big the texting chain was or who got what text or pornographic video or photo.  Did every person on the chain get every photo/video?  We know that Finlay and Ramasar provided lewd private intimate images and videos but we don't know of all the others who did.  Catazaro may be less culpable than Ramasar or the ringleader Finlay in that regard.  The questions about Alexa Maxwell's possible involvement are also due to the fragmentary reporting - she may have been or may eventually be equally surprised and horrified as Alexandra Waterbury was to discover that Finlay was offering up his girlfriend to Ramasar and was assuming that Maxwell would participate.  Also that Amar didn't scoff at the idea - which leads to the assumption that she may been complicit and down with the whole thing.   Maxwell may also be one of the victims here since it is quite possible that nude photos of her were circulated to third parties without her consent or knowledge.  Waterbury at considerable personal mortification, risk and exposure came forward with this humiliating saga and named herself but the other victims are rightly being treated like rape victims and being kept anonymous and nameless.  One problem in looking at text chains can be figuring out who wrote what and to whom and when.  Probably, Waterbury has screen captures only and those can be hard to decipher.

Edited by FauxPas
Clarity

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20 minutes ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Look, I'm not saying that the donor wasn't a major check-writer, or that he didn't behave badly at NYCB events. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if that were the case. (Frankly, nothing in the complaint would surprise me, although it would certainly sadden and disgust me.) But the complaint doesn't come right out and say that. It could be because it is badly written, or it could be by design.

It seems like if it was a major donor or if these were official NYCB events, that would be specified as those are significant details. I wonder why this person is left anonymous. 

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2 minutes ago, cobweb said:

It seems like if it was a major donor or if these were official NYCB events, that would be specified as those are significant details. I wonder why this person is left anonymous. 

I don't know what the legal implications are of naming a third person who isn't a party to the suit, especially when that person participated in the activities that form the central part of the complaint.   It may be that the donor is someone Ms. Waterbury's lawyer would prefer not to tangle with at this time. 

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After the suspension, Maxwell posted a photo of her with Ramasar and words of support. Among the commenters were several dancers, as well as Chase Finlay’s mother. She has now limited who can post comments, but the photo and words of support are still up. 

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6 hours ago, nanushka said:

In some cases perhaps, but in others definitely not. For instance, the photo caption on the NYT article reads, "Alexandra Waterbury, 19, filed a suit on Tuesday..."; the article begins, "A 19-year-old woman charged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that..."

The NYT has issued a correction to the article:

Correction: September 7, 2018

An earlier version of this article, using information from legal filings, misstated Ms. Waterbury’s age. She is 20, not 19. The article also incorrectly described the nature of the images Mr. Catazaro and Mr. Finlay were accused of exchanging. The lawsuit does not specify what type of images they were.

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This may already have been covered (I’m having trouble keeping up with the relentless stream of posts), but can anyone outline what is the trajectory of a lawsuit such as this one? Does NYCB file a “counter-complaint”? In what scenario does this kind of suit wind up in court? 

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2 minutes ago, FPF said:

Correction: September 7, 2018

An earlier version of this article, using information from legal filings, misstated Ms. Waterbury’s age. She is 20, not 19. The article also incorrectly described the nature of the images Mr. Catazaro and Mr. Finlay were accused of exchanging. The lawsuit does not specify what type of images they were.

Wait. They’re NOT accused of exchanging nude photos/videos??

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6 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Wait. They’re NOT accused of exchanging nude photos/videos??

The correction only applies to what images Catazaro and Finlay specifically exchanged. This is what the corrected version of the article now says about Catazaro's actions:

Quote

The company at the same time suspended two other principal dancers — Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro — without pay until next year, saying they had violated unspecified “norms of conduct.”

In her lawsuit, Ms. Waterbury accuses Mr. Finlay of sending nude photos of herself to Mr. Ramasar, who, the court papers say, sent back an image of a bare-chested “female ballet member.” The suit accuses Mr. Catazaro of having exchanged unspecified images with Mr. Finlay.

 

Edited by nanushka

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Also, there was some discussion earlier on how long Ramasar and Catazaro will be suspended-- Josh Barone from the NYT said until January 2019 on his Twitter (Aug 28th).

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There is nothing to indicate the level of donor or any Board affiliation. There's nothing to tie the party to an official event 

There are plenty of opportunities to meet young people in NYC.  Some people take the donor route to meet dancers, and sometimes they become friends.  In the become donors because they meet dancers.

 

If a board member were involved, I can't imagine why it wouldn't have been disclosed, since there would have been physical evidence of the communications 

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7 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Wait. They’re NOT accused of exchanging nude photos/videos??

The complaint just says that Finlay and Catazaro exchanged images, but doesn't describe the images. See pages 16-17 of the complaint (point #73). 

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Maybe this was already answered- how would anyone have access to text messages from the men's personal cell's?  In the interview this morning she states she found out that images had been sent to 9 men on Chase's laptop.  I'm assuming she found the "innaproppriate emails".  How do text messages fit into this?  How in the world did NYCB get access to a text to Finlay from the donor?

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You can send texts to email addresses and phone numbers. If one popped up on the screen while she was on the computer, she likely would have been able to see the entire text chain as well as how many emails/phone numbers were involved. No one has said how they were shown to NYCB. 

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5 minutes ago, Balletwannabe said:

Maybe this was already answered- how would anyone have access to text messages from the men's personal cell's?  In the interview this morning she states she found out that images had been sent to 9 men on Chase's laptop.  I'm assuming she found the "innaproppriate emails".  How do text messages fit into this?  How in the world did NYCB get access to a text to Finlay from the donor?

Many people get text messages on their laptops, as well as on their phones. My understand is that she was given access to Finlay's laptop (by Finlay) and one or more text message threads popped up (which could happen whenever a new message came in on that thread).

Is that others' understanding?

Edited by nanushka

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5 minutes ago, Balletwannabe said:

Maybe this was already answered- how would anyone have access to text messages from the men's personal cell's?  In the interview this morning she states she found out that images had been sent to 9 men on Chase's laptop.  I'm assuming she found the "innaproppriate emails".  How do text messages fit into this?  How in the world did NYCB get access to a text to Finlay from the donor?

If you use Apple products - e.g., an iPhone and a Mac laptop - it is very easy to send and receive text messages (via iMessage) to and from a cell phone on your computer. I do it all the time when I'm working on my computer. 

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell

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On 9/6/2018 at 9:47 AM, wonderwall said:

I don't think this necessarily makes them culpable, but I thought this was interesting. And it makes me like Stafford--I wonder if it was during this interim period? They just say "program director," but before his interim position, he was at SAB, so not sure how much contact he and Finlay would have had then. 

Indeed. one of the program directors, Jon Stafford. frequently asked Mr. Finlay about his partying and alcohol use because he smelled like alcoholic beverages and yet, NEW YORK CITY BALLET, INC. buried its head in the sand without investigating Mr. Finlay's conduct.

Before Stafford became an interim director he was a ballet master at NYCB. Stafford would have lead rehearsals and perhaps taught company class, with near daily contact with Chase Finlay, depending on which ballets they were rehearsing.

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7 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

It's true, but he may have significant assets (at least compared to your average person who works in the arts). He was promoted to principal 6 years ago, I believe, so depending on how he's spent his salary, he may have some considerable savings. Also, I seem to recall from a video -- I believe it was the AOL series rather than a NYCB-produced video -- that Finlay appears to be from an affluent family in Connecticut, so he may have some family money, as well, if any of it has been gifted to him.

Also, based on the address given in the complaint, Finlay lives in a co-op building in an expensive neighborhood. One website lists the average cost of an apartment in that building as $1,456 per square foot. He could be subletting, but if he owns the apartment, that's another asset. But I don't know if real estate is something that would be up for grabs in a civil suit. 

But I agree that NYCB is probably of more interest in terms of money, though it's also probably the greater reach in terms of actually proving they were responsible. 

I wouldn't make any assumptions on Finlay's financial resources. His address might also be a rent stabilized apartment.  There are still many in that neighborhood. I've lived in them.  When you look up the average cost of an apartment online they often deal only with new rentals and purchases, not apartments where the lease was set years ago. In addition, a single market rate apartment could bring up the average for a building of rent stabilized units.

Merson included NYCB in the complaint because they have the deep pockets. It's a standard legal manoeuver. NYCB would certainly have settled if the board and their lawyers felt that the "hostile environment" and "condoning this behavior" charges would stand up in court.

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I’m guessing Finlay’s family is fairly well-off, judging by his father’s (fairly pompous) Wikipedia page. 

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Pompous or not, I don't think Finlay's family's wealth should be relevant to this case. Chase Finlay is 27 years old and has lived on his own for many years. Unless he has a trust fund the complainant can go after, I don't think it matters that his father's "genealogical line on his maternal side goes back to the early American colonies of Middle Plantation (Virginia) (present-day Williamsburg) and Jamestown, Virginia." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_P._Finlay

Apropos to that, Finlay makes a storybook villain for 2018 - the arrogant white guy who thinks he can get away with anything. It doesn't help that ballet fans know him for what Alastair Macaulay calls "stuffed shirt" dancing.  A shame he played Apollo, NYCB's signature role. The Vanity Fair story almost writes itself. 

Edited by KayDenmark
Adding link to Mark Finlay bio

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2 minutes ago, KayDenmark said:

Pompous or not, I don't think Finlay's family's wealth should be relevant to this case. Chase Finlay is 27 years old and has lived on his own for many years. Unless he has a trust fund the complainant can go after, I don't think it matters...

But I thought that was the point that some were making: that his family wealth may indeed be relevant precisely because some of it may now be in his name?

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