Former Boston Ballet star and her dance instructor husband worked together to rape and control young dancers, lawsuit alleges

Dusty Button ballerina

Dusty Button leaps in the air as Boston Ballet company members rehearsed for “Le Corsaire” in Boston on Aug. 31, 2016. John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

  • Dusty Button, a former top ballerina, and Mitchell Taylor Button are accused of abusing former dance students.

  • The couple “exploited their position of power and influence in the dance world,” according to a federal lawsuit.

  • In one instance, Dusty Button allegedly recorded her husband raping a minor.

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A former star ballerina and her husband are accused of raping and abusing young dancers, many of whom say they are traumatized by years of mistreatment, according to a wide-ranging federal lawsuit that became public on Wednesday.

Dusty Button, who was previously the Boston Ballet’s principal dancer, and her husband Mitchell Taylor Button, a former dance instructor, allegedly groomed young performers over several years and across several states, court papers show.

According to the complaint, the couple “exploited their position of power and influence in the dance world” to control and abuse several young dancers, some of them minors, from 2007. Several plaintiffs alleged that the Buttons, as they are referred to in the complaint, worked together to carry out a “campaign of harassment and abuse.”

One plaintiff, identified as Jane Doe 100, alleges that the couple invited her, a minor, to their apartment and insisted she drink alcohol until she became intoxicated. Dusty Button restrained Jane 100 while holding a gun in her hand, and film recording as Mitchell Taylor Button raped her, it is alleged.

Another plaintiff, former dance student Sage Humphries, says she was repeatedly raped by the couple in a room of their apartment with an arsenal of guns hanging on the wall, court documents show. Humphries also alleges that the Buttons controlled her social media, stopped her from speaking to her family, encouraged her to dress like Dusty, and eventually forced her to live with them full-time.

The couple is also accused of coercing their students into secrecy by vowing to harm their dance careers and, on one occasion, threatening to slit the throats of a minor’s father and boyfriend.

The shocking allegations come from an updated complaint, filed on September 27, which names Dusty Button as a defendant after an initial complaint from July last year, had only named her as a “non-party co-conspirator.”

The previous complaint also accused Mitchell Taylor Button of sexually assaulting two minors, both students, between 2007 and 2010. 

Court documents show that the couple is accused of federal sex trafficking and forced labor violations and accuses Mitchell Taylor Button separately of assault, battery, false imprisonment, and sexual exploitation of a minor.

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