English National Ballet dancer convicted of sexual assault

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — A former dancer with the English National Ballet was convicted by a British court on Tuesday for sexually assaulting his students during massages between 2009 and 2016.

Yat-Sen Chang, a Cuban dancer who joined the English National Ballet in 1993 and performed as a principal dancer until 2011, was convicted of 12 counts of sexual assault and one count of assault by penetration.

His conviction follows the death in April of British choreographer Liam Scarlett at 35 following claims over past sexual misconduct with students. The UK’s Royal Ballet said it would no longer work with him in reaction to the allegations.

Judge Edward Connell told Chang, 49, he faced a “lengthy custodial sentence” for the offences against four female students at the English National Ballet and the London-based Young Dancers Academy.

The students who studied at the two schools said they were aged between 16 and 18 when Chang inappropriately touched them during massages.

Prosecution lawyer Joel Smith said Chang had “used his position” to commit sexual offences against “children, whom he had been trusted to teach”.

“For his part, he trusted that his fame and his position would protect him from complaint, or from consequences of his actions,” Smith said.

“The story of this case is sadly often heard — it is a man with power and prestige using them to abuse younger women,” he added.

Chang, who is a resident of the northern German port city of Kiel, said he had “no idea” why the allegations had been made against him and denied touching any of the complainants inappropriately or in a sexual way.

He was remanded in custody Isleworth Crown Court in London and is due be sentenced on June 18.

© Agence France-Presse