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5 dancers allege sex abuse by Las Vegas instructor and his ballerina wife

Five dancers have accused a Las Vegas instructor and his wife, a former star in the Boston Ballet, of sexually abusing them, according to a federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in Nevada, alleged that Mitchell Taylor Button and Dusty Button “exploited their position of power and influence in the dance world to sexually abuse young dancers across the country.”

Sigrid McCawley, an attorney for the plaintiffs, first filed the lawsuit in July on behalf of two dancers and only named Mitchell Button as a defendant.

In an amended complaint, filed last week, three more dancers came forward and Dusty Button was added as a defendant. The lawsuit alleges that the couple lured their victims by promising them a mentoring relationship, but instead sexually and physically abused them.

The dancers are seeking damages for a slew of damages, including sex trafficking, forced labor, involuntary servitude, sexual exploitation of a minor

The Buttons have denied the allegations.

“Our position remains the same,” attorney Marc Randazza told the Associated Press in an email. “We look forward to clearing both of their names in court.”

The alleged abuse first began in 2007, when Mitchell Button was an instructor at Centerstage Dance Academy in Tampa, Florida, the complaint states.

He sexually abused at least five of his students there, including one for three years beginning when she was 13, and often touched girls inappropriately at dance sleepovers, according to the document.

The plaintiffs also allege that he became violent, threatening and controlling and would only reward them with special dance opportunities if they accepted his sexual advances.

The Review-Journal is not identifying the dancers because they are victims of sexual assault.

After Mitchell Button married Dusty Button and took on her last name, the abuse continued, according to the lawsuit.

One woman, referred to as Jane Doe 100, claims she met the Buttons in 2014, when she was a minor. She said they plied her with alcohol, took her to their apartment and raped her, court records show.

Another woman, who met the couple while she was a dancer for the Boston Ballet in 2016, alleged that she was raped by Mitchell Button while Dusty Button held a gun. She was forced to live with them full time until she escaped to her parent’s house, the complaint states.

When she moved in with her parents, they threatened her life, according to the document. She received abuse protection orders against them both in 2017.

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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