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Police are investigating allegations of sexual assault at the prestigious Scottish ballet school


Jonathan Barton, who has resigned from Ballet West Scotland

The assistant director of a prestigious Scottish ballet school, at the center of a police investigation into sexual assault and care claims, has resigned over concerns from dozens of former students, parents and staff about his behavior.

Detectives are investigating allegations made by students of Ballet West Scotland in Taynuilt, Argyll, where Sir Billy Connolly is a Patron, when one executive resigned and another employee was suspended.

An investigation by ITV News found that around 60 former students, parents and staff had raised concerns about the now-retired Vice Director Jonathan Barton, 38.

ITV News said a witness came forward who said Mr. Barton groomed her and sent her inappropriate text messages when she was 16.

It is understood that Mr. Barton will "vigorously contest" the allegations.

Mr. Barton is the son of Headmaster Gillian Barton, who is understood to be a senior staff member, who has been suspended. QC Dr. Kirsty Hood was hired to conduct an internal investigation into allegations of "inappropriate sexual behavior".

The Scottish Police have now confirmed that an investigation has been initiated when it was found that the University of the Highlands and Islands raised "student welfare" and "serious allegations" concerns to Oban Police in late 2011.

The University of Highlands and Islands completed their BA courses in classical ballet and dance performance and HNC / HND stage dance courses offered through Ballet West Scotland at the end of the 2011/12 academic year.

The Scottish Police confirmed that they had investigated allegations of "behavior" at school eight years ago, but closed without further action and "no crime detected".

It also found that the Open University ended its partnership with Ballet West in December 2018 after "raising concerns, including allegations of inappropriate sexual relations between a student and an employee".

Detectives are investigating allegations by students at Ballet West in Taynuilt, Argyll (pictured) when one executive resigned and another employee was suspended

Detectives are investigating allegations by students at Ballet West in Taynuilt, Argyll (pictured) when one executive resigned and another employee was suspended

Ballet West Scotland said it was unaware of allegations of sexual contact between a student and a teacher made by the Open University.

The Ballet West Board of Trustees said: “When we first became aware of these allegations, we contacted Police Scotland as soon as possible.

“We welcome the police investigation and ask everyone with information to contact the police.

& # 39; The current board is unaware of any allegations of sexual relations between students and a teacher raised by the Open University.

& # 39; In addition, in correspondence between the board of directors of the Open University and Ballet West, it was established that the contract was terminated through no fault of its own.

& # 39; The Board of Trustees has and takes these allegations extremely seriously.

"In light of the allegations, they have contacted all previous education partners asking for information on the due diligence process as well as any communication with the previous board and staff at Ballet West."

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “The police have now received a number of reports which are being thoroughly investigated.

"Police Scotland is committed to bringing sex offenders to justice and treats all reports of sexual abuse with the utmost seriousness and sensitivity."

The allegations came to light after media inquiries were made to school principal Gillian Barton last week.

Ballet West, where Sir Billy Connolly is a trustee, has a contacts program that includes courses for 300 teenagers across Argyll, four summer schools and three associate courses in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow (stock image).

Ballet West, where Sir Billy Connolly is a trustee, has a contacts program that includes courses for 300 teenagers across Argyll, four summer schools and three associate courses in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow (stock image).

The claims relate to allegedly inappropriate touching. None of the alleged victims are under 16 years old.

Research by the board of directors revealed that in 2012 he had a relationship with a 17-year-old student. He was over 20 years old at the time. He was not a teacher or school clerk during the relationship.

Last week, an influential dance organization cut ties with Ballet West. The Royal Academy of Dance said it was "deeply concerned" about the allegations.

Ballet West offers outreach courses in Glasgow and other Scottish cities. The school, which has annual fees for UK students at £ 9,250, said it has "developed a widely recognized educational program that offers full-time courses for higher education and dance teachers".

The outreach program includes courses for 300 teenagers across Argyll, four summer schools and three associate courses in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The school's website says, “At Ballet West we are committed to ensuring that students experience the best possible.

"From two year olds taking their first dance class to college students, you will be treated as an individual and given the best in dance education."

In response to news of the police investigation, the Ballet West Board of Trustees replied, “When we first became aware of these allegations, we contacted Police Scotland as soon as possible.

“We welcome the police investigation and ask everyone with information to contact the police.

"We are very sorry that a student should feel like they have been abused by a staff member and that needs to be investigated thoroughly."

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