Abuse Accusations Against Peter Martins Are Not Corroborated, Inquiry Says

Abuse Accusations Against Peter Martins Are Not Corroborated, Inquiry Says

The investigation, which was initiated by the company and its School of American Ballet, was denounced Thursday by two former dancers who had come forward with accusations. They said Ms. Hoey, who interviewed them, had seemed sharply skeptical of their accounts of abuse. One of the dancers, Kelly Cass Boal, said she believed that the investigation was a whitewash meant to protect management and Mr. Martins.

“Everybody covers for him,” Ms. Boal said.

Ms. Hoey, reached by telephone Thursday, said in response: “We did not discount anyone’s experience. We took all views and all facts into consideration in preparing the report.”

Charles W. Scharf, the chairman of the ballet, defended the thoroughness of the investigation, which included interviews with 77 current and former dancers and others.

“I think we’ve done all that we can at this point. I think we’ve done what’s appropriate, I think we’ve done what’s fair,” he said in an interview. “We encouraged people to speak.”

The inquiry was prompted by an anonymous letter sent in early December to the company and school that accused Mr. Martins of sexual harassment.

In the wake of the letter’s allegation — the specifics were never released — several former dancers came forward with reports of physical and verbal abuse by Mr. Martins. Other former dancers described a culture of fear about speaking up, retribution for whistle-blowers and enabling by the board and management.

According to the statement from the ballet and school, “Ultimately the investigation did not corroborate the allegations of harassment or violence both made in the anonymous letter and reported in the media regarding Mr. Martins.”

Victor Ostrovsky, who had described being handled violently by Mr. Martins as a 12-year-old student at the ballet school, said on Thursday he was surprised by that conclusion. “The investigation was improperly done,” he said. “They weren’t able to prove through witnesses anything? That just doesn’t make sense. I was on stage with a bunch of kids — they all knew what happened.”

Mr. Ostrovsky said the outcome only confirmed his misgivings after meeting with the investigator, Ms. Hoey, the management lawyer. “She wasn’t blatantly discrediting me, but it felt like she was suggesting that maybe I didn’t experience that,” Mr. Ostrovsky said.

Ms. Boal, a former City Ballet soloist who in December described having been choked by Mr. Martins, said talking to Ms. Hoey “felt like she was trying to make it sound like what I’m saying is false. They were doing the investigation just to say what they’re saying right now.”

“They’re going to make it look pretty,” said Ms. Boal, who is married to Peter Boal, artistic director of Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle and director of its school.

Many of those who say they were mistreated by Mr. Martins have remarked on the lack of any public statement or apology from the board in response to their accusations regarding Mr. Martins. In particular, several have expressed being disappointed by the public silence from Sarah Jessica Parker, the vice chairwoman of the board, who has been vocal about the Time’s Up movement in Hollywood.

Ms. Parker, in a text message Thursday, said “it was very important to me that any allegation was taken seriously” and that she had supported “a rigorous outside investigation.” She said she and many current company dancers “continue to be in conversation” and that “their safety and a healthy, creative work environment is paramount to me, always has been and always will be.”

A number of current dancers, as well as some current and former board members, have remained loyal to Mr. Martins and continue to regret his departure.

Megan Fairchild, a principal dancer with the company, said Thursday, “This is what I thought would happen, because that’s the experience that I had, so I’m not surprised at all.” She added, “I felt that when he was leaving it was a sad thing and a shame and that we would not be our best company.”

Earle Mack, a former trustee, whose wife, Carol D. Mack, continues to serve on the board, said in an interview before the investigation’s conclusion that the board “acted prematurely” in letting Mr. Martins go.

“It was a kind of knee-jerk reaction,” Mr. Mack said, “and he did not deserve that kind of treatment after 34 years of his life running the company, rebuilding the company.”

“If they’re not going to give him his due and a fair send-off,” Mr. Mack added, “then I will do it.”

Mr. Scharf, the board chairman, said of Mr. Martins’ departure, “I feel very comfortable that we’re in a place where people are in agreement about going forward this way.” Asked if there would be a tribute to Mr. Martins at some point, Mr. Scharf said, “We haven’t gotten to that point yet.”

It remains unclear when a successor to Mr. Martins will be named; Mr. Scharf said the ballet had only begun the search process.

A team of dancers is leading the company in the interim: Justin Peck, Rebecca Krohn, Jonathan Stafford and Craig Hall. Because Mr. Martins had been in charge for more than 30 years, Mr. Scharf said, the ballet has an opportunity to examine the role anew, including whether it should be held by just one person and whether that person should head both the company and the school.

The statement said that “enhanced policies and practices” are being put in place, and that the ballet now has mandatory training programs “covering employee interactions”; a strengthened code of conduct on equal employment opportunities and nondiscrimination; and “practices to ensure a workplace that is free from bias, prejudice or harassment.”

The company has also hired an independent outside vendor to handle employee complaints anonymously and instituted a system for anonymous reporting of inappropriate conduct.

Nevertheless, there remains concern among people outside the ballet that, without changes in governance, the culture won’t change. In 1992, Mr. Martins was charged with assaulting his wife, Darci Kistler, then a principal dancer at City Ballet. Shortly before he retired, Mr. Martins was charged with driving while intoxicated in Westchester County. In a previous incident, in 2011, he pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated.

“If all these people who are responsible for the behavior of Peter Martins are still there, certain things will still happen,” Mr. Ostrovsky said.

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