Ballet dancer faces lengthy jail sentence for sexually assaulting students

A former English National Ballet (ENB) principal dancer has been found guilty of sexually assaulting four of his students in the ballet company.  He had been a dancer with the ENB between 1993 and 2011, but now lives in Germany.

Yat-Sen Chang assaulted the young female students (then aged  between 16 and 18) at the English National Ballet and Young Dancers Academy in London, between December 2009 and March 2016. 

The students complained that Chang had touched them inappropriately while he was performing massages on them.  At trial, he said that he had only advised the students to get massages  – but he denied ever offering to do this himself. He told jurors that the girls were lying but offered little by way of explanation as to why they would have made such allegations.

Nahid Mannan, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said Chang abused his position as a “famed and trusted ballet teacher” to allow him to assault the women and that “at 20 years their senior, Chang would have been well aware that his conduct was grossly inappropriate and predatory – yet he used his power and influence to abuse and sexually intimidate his young victims.”

Chang was convicted of 12 counts of sexual assault and one count of assault by penetration. He was cleared of one other offence.  Two of the ex-students had contacted the Met Police in 2016 about assaults that had taken place during private lessons either at his home, the dance school or the ENB.  The other two complainants came forward later and made further allegations against him.

At court, Detective Constable Helen Larson described the ballet dancer as “a dangerous and predatory individual”.

Judge Edward Connell noted that as Chang’s offending continued, it had “escalated in seriousness” and warned him he faced a “lengthy custodial sentence“.

Chang was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing which is due to take place at Isleworth Crown Court on 18 June. It has been revealed a fifth girl has come forward with similar allegations against Chang but he has not yet been charged in relation to that claim.

Chang’s conviction follows on from a number of similar scandals in the world of ballet.  West Ballet, based in Argyll, closed last year after an ITV investigation into alleged inappropriate sexual behaviour by its vice-principal.  In September 2020, two male ex-New York City Ballet dancers were cleared of sharing explicit photos of ballerinas – but had earlier been fired by the company.  

Written by James Chambers at BLM

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