Two New York City Ballet principal male dancers fired in response to claims they shared explicit photos and lewd messages involving ballerinas have been cleared of any wrongdoing – but a case against a third ex-dancer at the center of the scandal can proceed, a judge has ruled.
Former NYCB student dancer Alexandra Waterbury made the bombshell allegations in a 2018 lawsuit, in which she accused her ex-boyfriend and principal dancer Chase Finlay of sending surreptitiously taken pictures of her to fellow performers Zach Catazaro and Amar Ramasar.
In the suit, Waterbury also accused the ballet of facilitating a culture of sexual exploitation that encouraged the three dancers to exchange the vulgar messages.
However on Monday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James D’Auguste dismissed 19 of the 20 claims made in the suit, insisting the ballet, along with Catazaro and Ramasar couldn’t be held responsible for Finlay sharing the images.
But calling his actions ‘deplorable’, the judge insisted that the remaining claim against Finlay – who resigned from the company in 2018 – can continue.
‘Finlay, as the creator of the explicit content, is a covered recipient as he gained possession of and had access to an intimate image of Waterbury,’ the judge wrote in his decision, as reported by the NY Post. ‘It is undisputed that Waterbury did not consent to the distribution of her image and that she is identifiable in at least some of the images.’
Former NYCB student dancer Alexandra Waterbury (right) made the stark allegations against the ballet company and her ex-boyfriend and principal dancer Chase Finlay (left) in September 2018
In the suit, Waterbury accused the ballet of facilitating a culture of sexual exploitation that enabled Finlay and three others – including dancers Zach Catazaro (left) and Amar Ramasar (right) to exchange the lewd messages
Waterbury, then 19, alleged that Finlay sent explicit photos and videos to Catazaro and Ramasar, writing: ‘You have any pictures of girls you’ve f***ed? I’ll send you some [hot] ballerina girls I’ve made scream?’
Jared Longhitano, who was once a member of the NYCB’s Young Patrons Circle, was also accused by Waterbury of once sending a message to Finlay suggesting they could tie up ‘girls’ so they could ‘abuse them like farm animals’
In response, Ramasar allegedly sent a naked picture of his girlfriend Alexa Maxwell, who is also a dancer, to the other two men without her consent. Waterbury also accused Catazaro of exchanging explicit photos with Finlay, but didn’t elaborate on the content.
The ballet company said Ramasar, Catazaro, and Finlay were ‘engaged in inappropriate communications, that while personal, off-hours and off-site, had violated the norms of conduct that NYCB expects from its employee’.
Finlay hastily announced his resignation from the company and week before the allegations were made public. Both Catazaro and Ramasar, meanwhile, were fired.
An arbitrator later recommended they be reinstated following an April 2019 probe. Ramasar returned to the company, while Catazaro declined to take his job back.
As part of the suit, one-time ballet benefactor Jared Longhitano had also been accused of sharing disturbing text exchanges about ‘abusing’ female dancers with Finlay.
He too was cleared of all wrongdoing on Monday.
Longhitano, who was once a member of the NYCB’s Young Patrons Circle, once sent a message to Finlay suggesting they could tie up ‘girls’ so they could ‘abuse them like farm animals’.
‘Or like the sluts they are,’ Finlay reportedly replied in a text, according to Waterbury.
In an earlier exchange, Longhitano is purported to have written to Finlay: ‘we should get like half a kilo [of cocaine] and put it over the girls and just violate them.’
Waterbury alleged that Finlay sent explicit photos and videos to Catazaro and Ramasar, writing: ‘You have any pictures of girls you’ve f–ked? I’ll send you some [hot] ballerina girls I’ve made scream?’
Both Ramasar (performing above in 2015) and Catazaro were fired in light of the allegations. Finlay resigned days prior to the suit’s public disclosure
The New York City Ballet itself was accused of harbouring a workplace culture that enabled a ‘a breeding ground for sexual exploitation’ where women are objectified and treated as ’second-class citizens.’
Waterbury also accused the company, which she described as an ‘out of control frat house’, of fostering a highly sexualized environment and sweeping the male principals’ unlawful, reckless or degrading behavior towards women ‘under the rug’.
‘The male dancers…understood that they were ‘above the law’ and could do whatever they wanted to women, whenever they wanted to do so — just make sure it occurs in New York, where it could be controlled by [NYC Ballet’s] executives and management,’ the lawsuit alleged.
Without naming the person in question, the court filing claims that one male dancer was sent to rehab after a run-in with the law concerning substance abuse and domestic violence involving a ballerina, but he was allowed to return to the dance corps a week later ‘without repercussion.’
‘This sent the message to Mr Finlay and other New York City Ballet male dancers and others that it was acceptable to…abuse substances and degrade, demean, dehumanize and physically abuse women, including its own employees,’ the complaint reads.
While the claims were dismissed by Judge D’Auguste, in his ruling her urged the NYCB to consider implementing training courses, policies and other procedures to prevent such an occurrence from happening again.
‘We do not agree with the Court’s interpretation of the law,’ Waterbury’s lawyer Jordan Merson told the Post, adding that ‘New York State civil law is inadequate to protect against this type of conduct.’
‘We are reviewing the options for proceeding, and Ms. Waterbury will continue to fight to protect New Yorkers,’ the attorney added.
The New York City Ballet itself was accused of harbouring a workplace culture that enabled a ‘‘a breeding ground for sexual exploitation’ where women are objectified and treated as ’second-class citizens’, according to Waterbury
A #MeToo protest outside the Broadway Theatre on the opening night of West Side Story in February 2020, in which Ramasar was cast to play Sharks gang leader Bernardo is seen above
Longhitano’s lawyer Adam Silverstein credited to court for making ‘the decision we all anticipated: Plaintiff was basically blown out of the water.’
Catazaro’s lawyer Brian Kennedy said, ‘The judge’s decision dismissing the case correctly ruled that Ms. Waterbury should not have pointed a finger of blame at Mr. Catazaro, and that Mr. Catazaro caused no harm to Ms. Waterbury.’
He added that he client never ‘obtained or disseminated any nude photos’ of Waterbury.
While an attorney for Ramsar reportedly declined to comment, his girlfriend Alexa Maxwell took to social media earlier this year to defend her boyfriend and his alleged decision to share intimate image of her with Finlay and Catazaro.
While an attorney for Ramsar reportedly declined to comment, his girlfriend Alexa Maxwell took to social media earlier this year to defend her boyfriend and his alleged decision to share intimate image of her with Finlay and Catazaro
The post came in response to a #MeToo protest outside the Broadway Theatre on the opening night of West Side Story in February, in which Ramasar was cast to play Sharks gang leader Bernardo.
She accused the demonstrators, who were calling for ousted from the production, of unfairly targeting him and calling the incident a ‘personal matter’.
‘I am not a victim in this and no longer wish for my truth to be misrepresented. It is not my mission to diminish the feelings of Alexandra’s but I want to bring to light some facts that have been misrepresented across multiple platforms,’ Maxwell wrote.
She added that the ‘only photograph that was shared by Amar was of me, his girlfriend of nearly five years. I knew about the photos of me when they were taken, and while sharing it privately with a close friend was a misstep in judgment, Amar immediately told me when he sent them to Chase and his sincerest regrets have led us to today, where we reside together and are building a loving and happy relationship.
‘The incident was a personal matter between me and Amar, and I am okay with what happened.’
Waterbury claimed in her suit that she’d sustained severe psychological and emotional damage, mental anguish, embarrassment and humiliation as a result of Finlay’s actions and those of the ballet company.
She is suing her ex-boyfriend and his former employer for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery and invasion of privacy.
Waterbury’s lawsuit had been seeking unspecified punitive damages, compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.
The New York City ballet has not yet responded to a DailyMail.com request for comment on the ruling.