News / Canada

Former Royal Winnipeg Ballet student suing school, former instructor

WINNIPEG — A former student with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet is suing the company and a former instructor, alleging she was sexually assaulted and exploited in the 1990s.

She says she suffered mental distress, body image issues, eating disorders and nightmares.

The woman, now 35, was a student and ballerina at the school from 1991-1998.

A statement of claim was filed in Waterloo, Ont., on Nov. 22.

In the statement, the woman alleges that during her early years at the school, teacher Bruce Monk took photos of her, some of which were featured in a promotional pamphlet for the school.

Between 1996 and 1999, the woman claims Monk asked her to take part in private photo shoots.

She says the photos started as “relatively benign” head shots and dance poses, but the poses became "increasingly sexualized" at Monk’s request.

She alleges Monk asked her when she was 16 to do two nude photo shoots and while she felt uncomfortable, she did them because she felt “compelled to please” Monk, who was a “well-respected figure and a man of influence” at the ballet company.

The woman says the last nude photo shoot left her feeling “violated and dirty, damaging her self-esteem.”

The lawsuit alleges the negative impact of the incidents led to the woman to quit her “budding dance career.”

The claim alleges Monk used his position of trust and authority as a teacher to capitalize on the woman’s vulnerabilities.

The woman alleges the school “did nothing to inquire about the appropriateness of these shoots, and was wilfully blind to them.”

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet fired Monk in April 2015 when it found he was the target of a police investigation — an investigation that has subsequently been closed.

The organization says it can't comment on the details of the suit, but “when initial allegations against this individual came to light approximately two years ago, the RWB removed him from his role and subsequently terminated him.”

A statement of defence has not been filed.

(CTV Winnipeg)