A star ballerina accused of helping her husband sexually abuse two underage girls is now facing similar claims from three other women, one of whom says the dancer menaced her with a gun during a violent rape.
An expanded lawsuit, filed late last week, accuses Dusty Button, Boston Ballet’s former principal dancer, of befriending the underage girl in 2014 and introducing her to her husband, dance teacher Mitchell Taylor Button.
She is anonymous in the lawsuit as Jane Doe 100, which also includes new claims from two other women.
Jane Doe 100’s attorney Sigrid McCawley has come forward to detail her client’s claims against the Buttons.
The couple then allegedly plied the girl with booze and took her back to their home where Mitchell allegedly raped her inside a gun-lined room.
Dusty was holding a gun and appeared to film the encounter, while the ‘terrified’ girl cried and begged for the abuse to stop, the suit claims.
This marks the fifth alleged victim to come forward to accuse the couple of using their position of power in the dance world to sexually and emotionally abuse young female dancers.
Boston Ballet’s former star dancer has been hit with a fifth accusation of sexual abusing young dancers, as an alleged victim has come forward to claim the ballerina menaced her with a gun while her husband raped her. Dusty Button and husband Mitchell Taylor Button in 2018
Details of the two other new claims made against the Buttons have yet to emerge.
On July 28, a lawsuit was brought by two professional dancers Sage Humphries and Gina Menichino accusing Mitchell of sexual assaulting them and Dusty of aiding her husband in his abuse.
In the original suit, filed in US District Court in Nevada, Mitchell was the only person named as a defendant, with Dusty mentioned as an alleged predator.
Since then, three more alleged victims have come forward and joined the expanded lawsuit filed last week. All three of those women have named Dusty as a defendant.
In the expanded suit, first reported by the Boston Globe, Jane Doe 100 claims she met Dusty back in 2014 when the girl was attending at Boston-based dance school Urbanity Dance.
It is not clear how old Jane Doe 100 was at the time of the alleged abuse, but she says she was a minor. The age of consent in Massachusetts is 16.
The girl was part of the apprenticeship program which is designed for talented high school students aged 14 and over who are wanting to make a career out of dance.
Urbanity Dance rented studio space from Boston Ballet at the time and Dusty – who became Boston Ballet’s principal dancer that same year – allegedly befriended the girl then.
According to the suit, Dusty gained the girl’s ‘loyalty and trust’ and introduced her to Mitchell.
The couple allegedly promised to make the girl ‘a star’ if she spent time with them and did what they said.
Then, according to the suit, the couple allegedly took her to a party in Boston and forced her to drink a lot of alcohol to get her drunk.
The Buttons then allegedly took her back to their home in Somerville and led her inside a room which was filled with guns.
At this point, the couple pushed the child onto a mattress, the suit claims.
Dusty kissed and touched the girl while restraining her on the mattress while her husband began sexually assaulting her, the suit claims.
The suit says the girl ‘began to cry’ and told them ‘no’ and ‘stop’ but her abusers continued with Dusty restraining her while Mitchell ‘forcibly penetrated’ her.
At one point, the suit claims Dusty had a gun in her hand while, at another point, Dusty appeared to suggest she was filming the incident by holding up her phone.
The encounter left the underage girl ‘terrified’, the suit says.
The alleged victim, who now lives in New Hampshire and is no longer following a career in dance, told DailyMail.com in a statement she was ‘grateful’ to the first women who came forward and gave her the ‘courage’ to speak out.
An expanded lawsuit was filed late last week adding three more alleged victims to the lawsuit accusing the Buttons of abusing young dancers. Pictured Dusty Button in Boston Ballet’s production of William Forsythe’s The Second Detail
‘I am grateful to my fellow dancers for bravely bringing this action and for giving me the courage to come forward and speak out about the abuse I endured,’ she said.
‘Together we can stop the accused — our abusers —- from ever damaging another young, vulnerable dancer.’
The two other alleged victims to join the suit allege Mitchell sexually assaulted them when he was a dance instructor at Centerstage Dance Academy in Tampa.
Both were under 18 at the time of the alleged abuse, which is the age of consent in the Sunshine State.
Attorney Sigrid McCawley, who is representing the five accusers, said Dusty would ‘coax’ the victims in for her husband to use as ‘prey.’
‘What you have here is the highest level of betrayal,’ McCawley told the Globe.
‘You see the use of a famous female ballerina to coax these victims into a situation where they become prey for this serial abuser.’
She said other alleged victims may also come forward and join the suit.
‘In an instance like this, where you have a serial abuser, you oftentimes see other women feeling empowered enough to come forward and say, ‘me, too,” said McCawley.
‘Each one of these ballerinas wants this abuse to stop.’
Marc Randazza, an attorney for the Buttons, told the Globe they deny the allegations.
‘Our position remains the same. We look forward to clearing both of their names in court,’ he said.
‘We are not trying this matter in the press. We do find it interesting that the press has the complaint before Ms. Button has even been served. Maybe that should inspire some cynicism.’
In a statement last month, attorney Ken Swartz said his clients ‘categorically deny these baseless claims and they look forward to the opportunity through court proceedings to disprove all of the plaintiffs’ false and fraudulent allegations.’
Sage Humphries was one of two first accusers to file a lawsuit back in July 28 in Nevada
Gina Menichino, a dancer from New Jersey, was the second woman in the original lawsuit
Mitchell’s legal team previously filed a motion to dismiss the original complaint but it was denied.
DailyMail.com has reached out to both McCawley and Randazza for statements.
A spokesperson for Urbanity Dance told the Globe it did not know about the alleged abuse until now and that they were ‘shocked and deeply saddened’ to learn of it.
‘We are shocked and deeply saddened to have learned of these allegations today and are devastated by the pain this young dancer experienced,’ the company said in a statement.
‘We unequivocally condemn the predatory, cowardly behavior of perpetrators of sexual abuse. We stand in solidarity with this young woman and applaud her bravery in coming forward to share her truth.’
The first allegations against the couple were made by Humphries and Menichino in the original suit filed July 28.
The lawsuit alleges that on multiple occasions, Dusty held down Humphries so she could not move while her husband violently penetrated the young woman without her consent, including in her sleep.
In one instance, as alleged in the complaint, the Buttons ordered Humphries to don a head-to-toe spandex suit, tied her to a table in a room filled with guns and sexually assaulted her as she screamed and cried.
Humphries, now 23, told the New York Times in an interview that the Buttons had ‘complete control’ over her while she was a young dancer at Boston Ballet II, the company’s apprenticeship program.
The two other alleged victims to join the suit allege Mitchell sexually assaulted them when he was a dance instructor at Centerstage Dance Academy in Tampa (above)
The complaint states that Humphries, who was new to Boston at the time and had no family or friends in the city, first met Dusty, then a world-renowned prima ballerina, and her dance instructor husband in 2016.
The Buttons befriended the young dancer in early 2017 and soon began inviting her over to their home, where Humphries was expected to drink heavily, according to the complaint.
It is alleged in the explosive complaint that ‘the Buttons abuse their positions of power and prestige in the dance community to garner the loyalty and trust of young dancers. The Buttons then exploit those relationships to coerce sexual acts by means of force and fraud.’
‘The Buttons also began to insist that Sage sleep at their apartment on a regular basis,’ the lawsuit alleges. ‘The Buttons instructed Sage to wear their clothes and style her hair to match Dusty’s hair.’
Mitchell allegedly told Humphries that if she agreed to hand over control of her social media accounts to him, including her passwords and access to her text messages and email, he would make her as famous as his wife.
‘If Sage ever attempted to distance herself or disobey the Buttons, they would threaten to revoke their financial support and sabotage her career,’ the complaint alleges.
One evening, the Buttons and Humphries were lying on a mattress together watching a movie when Mitchell sexually assaulted his young protégé after his wife dozed off, according to the complaint.
‘Any time Sage attempted to develop other friendships and spend time apart from the Buttons, the Buttons would become enraged,’ the lawsuit alleges.
On one occasion, Mitchell allegedly forced Humphries to preform oral sex on him as punishment for having lunch with a group of women.
The lawsuit alleges that the Buttons insisted that Humphries ‘prioritize them over her family,’ and even joined her on a trip to California to visit her parents ‘she she could not be alone with her family.’
After returning to Boston, the sexual abuse intensified, according to the lawsuit.
Boston Ballet dancer Sage Humphries (left) and professional dancer Gina Menichino (right) together filed the lawsuit against Mitchell Button in July
Humphries claims in the lawsuit the Buttons had complete control over her and isolated her from family and friends
‘One evening, Sage went to the Buttons’ apartment after rehearsal, and the apartment was completely dark,’ reads the complaint. ‘Dusty and [Mitchell] demanded that Sage put on a spandex suit that covered her entire body, including her mouth and eyes, and left only her nose and ears exposed.
‘Dusty led Sage into a room of the Buttons’ apartment that had an arsenal of guns hanging on the wall. Sage told the Buttons she was scared. They instructed her to lie down on a table, and they tied up her arms and legs so she was unable to move. The Buttons then sexually assaulted Sage.
‘Sage began sobbing and screaming, begging the Buttons to untie her. The Buttons told her she was being weak and stupid.’
After that incident, Mitchell allegedly began having sex with his protégé ‘whenever he pleased,’ including sometimes while she was sleeping.
‘[Mitchell] regularly shoved Sage to the ground or on the bed and violently penetrated her without her consent,’ claims the complaint. ‘On several occasions, Dusty held Sage down while [Mitchell] penetrated her so that Sage could not move.’
During sex, the dance instructor allegedly would ‘choke, slap and pull’ Humphries’ hair, leaving her covered in bruises.
‘The Buttons also regularly used painful sex toys on Sage and would tie Sage up in order to have sex with her,’ the lawsuit contends. ‘Sage never consented to these violent sex acts.’
By May 2017, the Buttons allegedly forced Humphries to live with them full time. They did not charge her rent and paid for her meals and personal expenses, rendering her financially dependent on the couple.
‘If Sage ever attempted to distance herself or disobey the Buttons, they would threaten to revoke their financial support and sabotage her career,’ according to the lawsuit.
Boston Ballet’s former principal dancer Dusty Button (pictured) and her husband deny the allegations
Eventually, Humphries’ parents became concerned with her living situation and forced her to return home.
Mitchell continued communicating with Humphries on Snapchat. At one point, he allegedly told her he wanted to rape the woman and leave her to die in a warehouse, and also threatened to travel to California and slit her father’s throat.
In August 2017, Humphries sought and received abuse protection orders against the Buttons.
The Boston Ballet has issued a statement expressing support for Humphries, who is still part of the company.
‘Boston Ballet supports Sage Humphries who is bravely coming forward, sharing her experience to protect others, and seeking accountability and justice,’ the statement read.
According to the dance company, Dusty Button’s employment with the Boston Ballet was terminated in May 2017.
The federal lawsuit also details allegations of sexual abuse from a decade ago targeting Mitchell Button’s former dance student Gina Menichino.
According to the complaint, Button, who at the time went by the name Taylor Moore and worked as a dance instructor at a studio in Tampa, Florida, began grooming Menichino for abuse when she was 13 years old and he was 25.
‘Taylor took a special interest in Gina and would single her out for special attention and opportunities in dance class, such as allowing her to assistant teach his dance classes,’ alleges the complaint.
On two separate occasions in 2010, Button allegedly sexually assaulted Menichino while the two were sharing a blanket while watching a movie with other dance students.
Button then began regularly ‘sexting’ the young girl, including sending her shirtless photos of himself and videos showing him pleasuring himself, the suit claims. He also solicited similar content from Menichino.
‘Taylor used his position of power and authority over Gina to force her to comply with his sexual demands,’ according to the lawsuit.
If the 13-year-old resisted her teacher’s sexual advances, Button allegedly threatened to hurt her dance career.
‘The whole game was to keep him happy,’ Menichino, now 25, told the Times. ‘Don’t get him angry, or I was unworthy and I would lose my dance career.’