Ballet dancer used his fame to abuse students, London court told | UK news

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A former English National Ballet principal dancer used his “power and prestige” to sexually abuse young dance students in his care, a court has heard.

Yat-Sen Chang, 49, has been charged with 12 counts of sexual assault and two counts of assault by penetration against a female aged 16 or over.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place at the English National Ballet and Young Dancers Academy in London between December 2009 and March 2016. Chang, who lives in the German port city of Kiel, has denied all the charges.

Opening the trial at Isleworth crown court, Joel Smith, prosecuting, said Chang was “famous and revered” by young dancers and students of ballet, and used his position to commit sexual offences against young students “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 told jurors. “The story of this case is sadly often heard: it is a man with power and prestige using them to abuse younger women.”

The alleged offences relate to four female complainants who were aged between 16 and 18 at the time of the incidents. The court heard that Chang was heard “giggling” or “laughing” as he was allegedly assaulting the students, who accused him of touching them inappropriately during massages at the schools.

Smith said the first complainant recalled “creepy breathing” as Chang massaged her leg after she complained of a tight muscle. He said the complainant “thought it was a bit weird” and it “didn’t feel like a sports massage”, saying Chang had massaged her “in an intimate area”.

Smith said that after the incident Chang continued to put the alleged victim “in embarrassing and sexual situations”, which he said was “part of the grooming behaviour” he deployed.

Jurors heard that the defendant allegedly undressed in front of the complainant after leading her into the men’s changing rooms, and on another occasion allegedly tried to get into a shower with her in the girls’ changing rooms.

Smith said Chang’s behaviour became “more forceful and more explicit”, describing one alleged incident where the defendant allegedly sexually assaulted the complainant at his flat after he pinned her on the floor.

A second alleged victim described how she “kind of froze” while Chang massaged her, the court heard, while another complainant described the alleged offending as “scaring me a lot”.

The fourth complainant accused Chang of sexually abusing her in a toilet, causing her to be in pain, Smith said.

One of the alleged victims told her school what had happened in April 2016 and the police were called, the court heard.

According to a profile on the Theater Kiel website, Chang joined the English National Ballet in 1993 and was a principal dancer until 2011, during which time he performed in productions including The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Sleeping Beauty.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

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