Ballet teacher on trial accused of sexually abusing students at Argyll dance school

21 November 2023, 09:01 | Updated: 21 November 2023, 16:17

A woman has told a court how she reportedly had sex with her ballet teacher in his dance school bedroom when she was 16 after he invited her there under cover of darkness.

The woman, now aged 35, told jurors she also had sex with him in the shower attached to his rooms, at the school in Argyll and Bute.

Jonathan Barton, 41, is on trial accused of having sex with two students while in a "position of trust" as a teacher at the school, and of sexual offences involving seven others.

He denies all the charges against him.

It is alleged he had sex and engaged in sexual activity on various occasions between 1 September 2004 and 20 May 2006 with one of the alleged victims on the ballet school premises, in a car and in a hotel room in Stirling.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told Dumbarton Sheriff Court that as a child she had a passion for dance and joined the ballet school in September 2004 after auditioning.

She said that Barton was one of her dance teachers and that "boundaries were definitely crossed in terms of flirtatious behaviour" in class, where he would touch her when correcting her position.

The woman said Barton first kissed her when he dropped by to see her in her chalet-style accommodation at the school, and she first had sex with him on another occasion in her first year at the school when she was 16.

She said: "The first time, Jonathan invited me up to his room by a text and told me to come in the evening when it was dark, so I just went and climbed up the back window.

"Round the back of the house there was a wooden patio with a ladder which led up to Jonathan's room, so I used that."

The woman said that they sat on the sofa in his room chatting and this led to having sex on the bed and on the floor.

She said: "We talked, then got closer, we were kissing and it led to having sex."

Fiscal depute Dana Barclay asked how she felt about the experience, to which she replied: "Nervous, feeling I should not be doing this. But, then, you are young and somebody you completely admire is giving you attention, so it is a very difficult feeling."

She told the court that she had sex with Barton a second time in her second year at the school in 2005, when she was 17, and that this time it took place in the shower.

However, she said that after this his behaviour towards her changed and he became "quite cold" and did not give her much attention in class, which left her feeling "rubbish, like I had been punished".

She told the court she had sex with him a final time in accommodation in Stirling when the ballet school was on tour performing a musical production.

The court heard that she left the school after her second year and gave up ballet.

Asked by Ms Barclay how it feels to be giving evidence, she said: "Nervous, angry, very angry, because it brings back a lot of emotions."

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Defence agent Gary McAteer showed jurors a flyer from the touring musical production the ballet school performed in places including Stirling and pointed out the first performance on the tour took place on 22 June 2006.

He said the witness would have been 18 at this point, to which she agreed.

Mr McAteer said: "You were an adult and you were entitled to consent if you chose to do so," to which she replied "yes".

The charges, involving nine teenage girls, span a timeframe from 2004 to 2019.

The alleged victims were aged between 16 and 18, with one aged under 16 but over 13.

Barton is accused of sexually assaulting six students at the school, one of whom he is also accused of engaging in sexual activity with.

He also faces a charge of engaging in sexual activity other than sexual intercourse with a seventh student.

The trial, before Sheriff William Gallacher, continues.