A second area dancer has come forward as part of an expanded lawsuit against a former star dancer with the Boston Ballet and her husband, alleging the couple raped her while she was still a minor.
The dancer, who is identified in court filings only as Jane Doe 100, is one of five female dancers who say Mitchell Taylor Button and his wife, former Boston Ballet principal dancer Dusty Button, “exploited their position of power and influence in the dance world to sexually abuse young dancers across the country.”
The original suit, brought by Boston Ballet’s Sage Humphries and another dancer, Gina Menichino, named only Mitchell Button, who has several aliases but often goes by Taylor, as a defendant. The expanded lawsuit, filed late last week in US District Court in Nevada, adds three new plaintiffs and expressly names Dusty Button as a defendant.
“What you have here is the highest level of betrayal,” said Sigrid McCawley, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. “You see the use of a famous female ballerina to coax these victims into a situation where they become prey for this serial abuser.”
In a motion to dismiss the original complaint, attorneys for Taylor Button said he denied the allegations. (The presiding judge has since denied the motion as moot in light of the amended complaint.)
“Our position remains the same,” Marc Randazza, an attorney representing the Buttons, said via e-mail. “We look forward to clearing both of their names in court.”
He added: “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.”
McCawley said Jane Doe 100, who lives in Bedford, N.H., met the Buttons in 2014, when Jane 100 danced as a member of the apprentice program with Urbanity Dance, a small contemporary dance company that rented studio space from Boston Ballet at the time. The complaint describes how Dusty Button, who that year was promoted to principal dancer at Boston Ballet, befriended the younger dancer, “garnering Jane 100′s loyalty and trust.”
Button, a well-known ballerina with a sizable social media following, also encouraged Jane 100 to meet her husband, Taylor Button, saying he could make the younger dancer a “star.” The couple later promised her a variety of professional opportunities if she did as they said and continued to spend time with them, the complaint alleges.
Court filings describe how one evening the Buttons invited Jane 100 to a party in Boston, forcing her to drink alcohol and causing her to become incapacitated. They later brought her to their Somerville apartment, the complaint alleges, where they pushed her onto a mattress in a gun-lined room.
Dusty Button then began kissing and touching the girl, the complaint alleges, restraining Jane 100 as Taylor Button sexually assaulted her.
“Jane 100 began to cry and told the Buttons to stop,” states the complaint. “Dusty continued to restrain Jane 100, and Taylor forcibly penetrated Jane 100. Jane 100 said ‘no’ and ‘stop.’ ”
The complaint further alleges that Dusty Button held up her phone at one point as if to indicate she was recording the alleged rape. At another point, court filings allege, the ballerina had a gun in her hand.
“Jane 100 was terrified,” the complaint states.
Jane Doe 100, who’s no longer pursuing a career in dance, said she hopes the case will protect future dancers from harm.
“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 suffered,” she said in a statement to the Globe. “Together, I believe, we can stop the accused from ever damaging another young dancer.”
A leader with Urbanity Dance said the company had been unaware of the allegations until it was contacted by the Globe.
“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.”
Three other dancers in the suit, including Menichino, allege Taylor Button assaulted them when they were younger than 18 and he was a dance instructor at Centerstage Dance Academy in Tampa, where he worked from roughly 2006-2010.
Humphries, who still dances with Boston Ballet, alleges the couple psychologically manipulated and sexually assaulted her over the course of a few months in 2017, and threatened she would never succeed as a dancer if she didn’t obey them.
“I was basically like their little bird in a cage,” Humphries previously told the Globe. “They wanted complete control and access to me all the time.”
Boston Ballet, which has declined to comment on the case, previously issued a statement in support of Humphries, saying she is “bravely coming forward, sharing her experience to protect others, and seeking accountability and justice.”
Attorney McCawley, who said more plaintiffs may yet join the suit, said the new plaintiffs were emboldened by the original accusers.
“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.”