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

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55 minutes ago, vipa said:

Anyway, I just don't see how SAB or NYCB is at fault if Waterbury and Finlay met at the school.

If, as the complaint states, NYCB had absolutely no code of conduct for employees in their interactions with school students, that would seem to be unusual. That would also seem to be different from most institutions wherein an organization’s roles in loco parentis and, separately, as employer of older individuals are intertwined.

Edited by tutu
typo

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1 hour ago, On Pointe said:

Many company members are the same age or just a bit older than advanced students at SAB.  New members would have been recent SAB students anyway,  so it wouldn't be unusual or improper for there to be relationships between them.  While the students may be starstruck and awestruck by their presence,  the company members are not in positions of authority over them.

It's pretty typical for there to be strict no-fraternization rules when a school has underage teens as well as those who are college age.   From what I understand there is a very strict no fraternization rule between the HS students at UNCSA and the college students in the dance program.  They are expected to maintain a strict separation when they are not in class or rehearsals together.

If SAB/NYCB doesn't have a policy that prevents socializing between the school and the company that was a problem waiting to happen.  Evenmoreso if the fraternization wasn't between the school and the apprentices but was allowed between the teens at SAB and principals who were 5-10 years older than the students.

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6 minutes ago, meatball77 said:

It's pretty typical for there to be strict no-fraternization rules when a school has underage teens as well as those who are college age.   From what I understand there is a very strict no fraternization rule between the HS students at UNCSA and the college students in the dance program.  They are expected to maintain a strict separation when they are not in class or rehearsals together.

If SAB/NYCB doesn't have a policy that prevents socializing between the school and the company that was a problem waiting to happen.  Evenmoreso if the fraternization wasn't between the school and the apprentices but was allowed between the teens at SAB and principals who were 5-10 years older than the students.

I think we are reacting as if Merson's assertions are true.  But as the saying goes,  if it ain't broke,  don't  fix it.  While there have been unequal relationships between dancers and students in the past,  there isn't  any evidence presented that it is either rampant or much of a problem.  It would be difficult to craft a policy forbidding,  for example,  an eighteen year old NYCB dancer from dating an eighteen year old SAB student.  They could even be legally married in New York.

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8 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

I think we are reacting as if Merson's assertions are true.  But as the saying goes,  if it ain't broke,  don't  fix it.  While there have been unequal relationships between dancers and students in the past,  there isn't  any evidence presented that it is either rampant or much of a problem.  It would be difficult to craft a policy forbidding,  for example,  an eighteen year old NYCB dancer from dating an eighteen year old SAB student.  They could even be legally married in New York.

why would it be difficult?  Why not fix it? Dating has gone on between company members and SAB students for ages it is true, one of my relatives dated a company member when they were 18 and at SAB and the company member was 28 in the 1990s.

 

That doesn't mean it is a good idea.

Edited by aurora

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5 minutes ago, aurora said:

why would it be difficult?  Why not fix it? Dating has gone on between company members and SAB students for ages it is true, one of my relatives dated a company member when they were 18 and at SAB and the company member was 28 in the 1990s.

 

That doesn't mean it is a good idea.

I chose eighteen for a reason.  Still quite young,  but a legal adult nevertheless.  I agree that an eighteen year old dating a twenty-eight year old is not a good idea,  but it's not illegal.  A sixteen year old with a twenty-eight year old is illegal,  and a really bad idea!  In that case the law supersedes any school or company policy anyway.

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20 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

It would be difficult to craft a policy forbidding,  for example,  an eighteen year old NYCB dancer from dating an eighteen year old SAB student.  They could even be legally married in New York.

Universities do it, regardless of age, ie, prohibit faculty from dating students, even graduate students, even students who've never taken a class from them.   I think ballet companies with feeder school affiliates could make the same case because of the relationship between them, even if they are separate corporate entities.  It's about power differential, even if there is no direct reporting relationship.

But I think the point in the complaint is more about grooming than company members dating students, although that may have happened already, and that comes from fraternization between dancers and students.  

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29 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

I think we are reacting as if Merson's assertions are true.  But as the saying goes,  if it ain't broke,  don't  fix it.  While there have been unequal relationships between dancers and students in the past,  there isn't  any evidence presented that it is either rampant or much of a problem.  It would be difficult to craft a policy forbidding,  for example,  an eighteen year old NYCB dancer from dating an eighteen year old SAB student.  They could even be legally married in New York.

I know SAB is not a typical boarding school but I would expect the administration to be, at the very least, cautious about students fraternizing with company members; especially after  the 2005 Milton Academy sex scandal (18yo senior boys w/ underclassman girl) and the more recent rape case at St. Paul’s.  At a typical coed boarding school, dating between 18+ seniors or postgraduates and underclassmen is a constant cause of concern for faculty and administration. 

Edited by FITTB85

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In NY, the age of consent is 17.  However, nationally, there have been universities and schools that prohibit various relationships where they argue that there is a power imbalance.  Similarly, skating coaches have been prohibited from dating their students, even if the coach is a minor teenager.

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2 minutes ago, meatball77 said:

It's pretty typical for there to be strict no-fraternization rules when a school has underage teens as well as those who are college age.   From what I understand there is a very strict no fraternization rule between the HS students at UNCSA and the college students in the dance program.  They are expected to maintain a strict separation when they are not in class or rehearsals together.

If SAB/NYCB doesn't have a policy that prevents socializing between the school and the company that was a problem waiting to happen.  Evenmoreso if the fraternization wasn't between the school and the apprentices but was allowed between the teens at SAB and principals who were 5-10 years older than the students.

1

I agree with this. There should be strict no-fraternization policy between SAB and NYCB, even if the SAB dancer is 18+. 

1 minute ago, On Pointe said:

I think we are reacting as if Merson's assertions are true.  But as the saying goes,  if it ain't broke,  don't  fix it.  While there have been unequal relationships between dancers and students in the past,  there isn't  any evidence presented that it is either rampant or much of a problem.  It would be difficult to craft a policy forbidding,  for example,  an eighteen year old NYCB dancer from dating an eighteen year old SAB student.  They could even be legally married in New York.

4

Merson's assertions have provoked mixed reactions from the broader ballet community (mod note: I am not talking about this board, in particular). There are survivors of sexual harassment/assault who see themselves in Waterbury and understand that false sexual misconduct claims are very, very rare. There are others who think this is a tempest in a teapot and are more interested in defending the accused and the institution than demonstrating accountability.

The fact that this claim has been filed (along with Martins departure, etc) suggests that something is in fact broken. The #MeToo movement has encouraged a reevaluation of norms in the entertainment industry at large. Things that might have been acceptable previously, like May-December relationships between people with differing levels of power, are now thankfully being reevaluated. The hypothetical 18-year-old SAB student/NYCB corps dancer couple likely began dating when they were both students. It is not the same as a principal danseur in his late 20s or 30s beginning a relationship with an 18-year-old SAB student (which while legal, is still creepy and predatory. The young corps woman/older principal man relationships give me pause as well, but that's for another post).

While people with significant age gaps can have relationships based on love and respect, many 25+ year old men who pursue 18 year old women would likely be having relationships with underage girls if the law allowed. And according to the claim, Finlay and Catazaro specifically fetishized "barely legal" women in the 18-22 year old range. Yuck.

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10 minutes ago, Pique Arabesque said:

While people with significant age gaps can have relationships based on love and respect, many 25+ year old men who pursue 18 year old women would likely be having relationships with underage girls if the law allowed.

What is your source for this statement? Is it also the case that 25+ year old women who pursue 18 year old men would likely be having relationships with underage boys if the law allowed?

Edited by fordhambae
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3 minutes ago, fordhambae said:

What is your source for this statement?

The fetishization of the "barely legal" woman (aka she's old enough so I won't go to jail, but young enough to manipulate) is a very common trope.

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26 minutes ago, Helene said:

Similarly, skating coaches have been prohibited from dating their students, even if the coach is a minor teenager.

SafeSport was born due to the inappropriate and illegal behaviors taking place in youth sports. All skating coaches who are members of our national governing body are required to take the online training every year and provide the certificate of completion to our employer. The social media portion in the manual is extensive and  very specific. It is the hot button topic in our industry right now. 

"The U.S. Center for SafeSport is an independent nonprofit committed to ending all forms of abuse in sport. This includes bullying, harassment, hazing, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual misconduct and abuse." 

Helene I would imagine this is way off topic. 

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I think there are parallels between ballet training and sports where elite training spans age groups from young teenagers to young adults, including young adult professionals.  For very long, it's been "let the chips fall where they may."

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If Ms. Waterbury  hadn't  needed to "check her email",  she might never have known about the invasion of her privacy.  There are terms used interchangeably in the complaint that confuse the issues,  which is likely deliberate.  The amended complaint describes a lot of sex going on with a lot of people,  students,  dancers and their spouses.  (Not Longhitano though.  He strikes me as a sad wannabe trying to live a fantasy life by hanging out with handsome male stars.)  There are kinky elements to these relationships,  like the threesomes and the husband sending out nude photos of his wife.  But one could conclude that some of the photo sharing may have taken place with the knowledge and consent of the women involved.  Not Ms. Waterbury,  who according to the complaint,  was in over her head.  She was taken advantage of by a snake.  Her treatment could be considered emotional abuse,  but there's nothing in the complaint alleging harassment,  hazing,  or physical abuse.

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She checked her email and learned that Finlay had taken images of her without her knowledge and distributed them, accompanied by appalling commentary.  The former may be a criminal offense as well as a civil one. She has filed a lawsuit through her attorney, and has asked for damages for damage done to her.

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2 minutes ago, Helene said:

She checked her email and learned that Finlay had taken images of her without her knowledge

Allegedly

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Workplaces can absolutely impose anti-fraternization rules and quite stringent ones.  In the US military, an officer cannot date an enlisted soldier.  In fact, the military even regulates the degree of friendship permitted between officers and enlisted soldiers.  So NYCB could absolutely put into place a policy forbidding NYCB dancers to date SAB students.  And, if desired, they could put in a caveat that relationships started while both are at SAB could be allowed to continue or any other exemptions they feel necessary.  

In terms of Waterbury suing for money, I think there are two factors here, and neither of them necessarily precludes the moral high ground on Waterbury’s part.  1) Lawyers need to get paid.  Finding a lawyer who wanted to take this on pro bono for a token $1 in damages a la Taylor Swift would have probably been an extremely tough sell.  2) The most effective way to get an organization to change is to make it more painful for them to continue on their current path than it is to change.  And suing NYCB does exactly this by going after two things that are very important to them - their reputation and their finances.  As an example of the power of this tactic, universities in America had a terrible track record when it came to dealing with sexual assault victims both because they were afraid that if they acknowleded it was happening, it would hurt their school’s reputation and because if they did anything to the accused, they could turn around and sue the school.  Colleges finally began to change their policies and procedures (at least to some extent) only when two women began bringing lawsuits under Title IX providing equal opportunities for women and getting victims at other schools to also file lawsuits.  Only when colleges started to get sued for not protecting sexual assault victims did they start to put any meaningful protections in place.  So what Waterbury is doing may actually be extremely effective in getting NYCB to address what she clearly sees as a problem with the institution.

Edited by minervaave
Used organizations, not colleges

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4 minutes ago, fordhambae said:

Allegedly

If it goes to court, we'll certainly see.  Civil and/or criminal.

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35 minutes ago, minervaave said:

Workplaces can absolutely impose anti-fraternization rules and quite stringent ones.  In the US military, an officer cannot date an enlisted soldier.  In fact, the military even regulates the degree of friendship permitted between officers and enlisted soldiers.  So NYCB could absolutely put into place a policy forbidding NYCB dancers to date SAB students.  And, if desired, they could put in a caveat that relationships started while both are at SAB could be allowed to continue or any other exemptions they feel necessary.  

In terms of Waterbury suing for money, I think there are two factors here, and neither of them necessarily precludes the moral high ground on Waterbury’s part.  1) Lawyers need to get paid.  Finding a lawyer who wanted to take this on pro bono for a token $1 in damages a la Taylor Swift would have probably been an extremely tough sell.  2) The most effective way to get an organization to change is to make it more painful for them to continue on their current path than it is to change.  And suing NYCB does exactly this by going after two things that are very important to them - their reputation and their finances.  As an example of the power of this tactic, universities in America had a terrible track record when it came to dealing with sexual assault victims both because they were afraid that if they acknowleded it was happening, it would hurt their school’s reputation and because if they did anything to the accused, they could turn around and sue the school.  Colleges finally began to change their policies and procedures (at least to some extent) only when two women began bringing lawsuits under Title IX providing equal opportunities for women and getting victims at other schools to also file lawsuits.  Only when colleges started to get sued for not protecting sexual assault victims did they start to put any meaningful protections in place.  So what Waterbury is doing may actually be extremely effective in getting NYCB to address what she clearly sees as a problem with the institution.

The military is unique in that its members voluntarily give up some of their rights.  For example,  officers can be court-martialed  for committing adultery,  even when the sexual partner is a civilian.  While religious employers can require their employees to follow certain moral strictures or lose their jobs,  ordinary civilian employers,  like NYCB,  are limited in how much control they have over employees' lives.  SAB and NYCB may be able to put together a policy forbidding relationships between company members and students,  but there is no way they can control the sex lives of the dancers when they don't  involve students.  Ms. Waterbury  was not a minor,  not a student,  not a company member.  Finlay had every right to pursue a relationship  with her.  It's taking photos and distributing them without her consent  that was a moral violation.

Curiously the complaint is silent as to what happened after Ms. Waterbury  found the emails.  She finds them in May and sues NYCB in September.  Did she confront Finlay and demand an apology?  The complaint mentions that she was hurt because she thought of Ramasar as a friend.  Did they have it out?  Was there any effort to resolve the conflict before she engaged Merson?  She's not required to include the info but it will all come out in court,  if it gets that far.

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2 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Curiously the complaint is silent as to what happened after Ms. Waterbury  found the emails.  She finds them in May and sues NYCB in September.  Did she confront Finlay and demand an apology?  The complaint mentions that she was hurt because she thought of Ramasar as a friend.  Did they have it out?  Was there any effort to resolve the conflict before she engaged Merson?  She's not required to include the info but it will all come out in court,  if it gets that far.

I don't think any of that is relevant.  

Timing wise, Scharf said that they were contacted in June, when they started to investigate the communications. 

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23 minutes ago, Helene said:

I don't think any of that is relevant.  

Timing wise, Scharf said that they were contacted in June, when they started to investigate the communications. 

Inquiring minds want to know. 😎

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7 hours ago, tutu said:

If, as the complaint states, NYCB had absolutely no code of conduct for employees in their interactions with school students, that would seem to be unusual. That would also seem to be different from most institutions wherein an organization’s roles in loco parentis and, separately, as employer of older individuals are intertwined.

I have skimmed this mega-thread and the amended complaint, but please forgive if I’ve gotten something wrong or misunderstood something, as I only skimmed. And I have such a jumble of thoughts and emotions over this that I’ve refrained from posting much of anything on this thread. 

I find it hard to believe SAB and NYCB have NO code of conduct.  Parents don’t blithely send their children away to school without knowing school policies and protections, etc.  I know the complaint states that, but (and I am not an attorney), I was struck by many ‘charges’ in the complaint stated as facts when they are not yet proven to be facts. I am not referring to the specific allegations with the texting and sharing but other broader statements that charge NYCB and SAB, such as stating there is no code of conduct.  

That said, I am appalled and very sad about this mess.  As artists and dancers, they represented something higher and greater than themselves - their art. I just don’t know what else to say. Except that I believe NYCB and SAB will see this crisis through and be the better for it. I have faith in that. I wish they would appoint a new AD sooner than later as I think it would boost morale and give them the leadership it really needs right now.  

And thanks to everyone here on BA! for your insightful posts and contributions. 

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7 hours ago, fordhambae said:

Allegedly

As of now, the status is allegedly. Whether and to what extent Finlay consented to Waterbury’s access could be of significane. For now, it is important not to accept the plaintiff’s statements of the facts as the actual facts. 

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