Ballet teacher acquitted of sexual assaults on teenage pupils at prestigious Scottish dance school

Jonathan Barton walked out of court with his mother and wife after being acquitted of sexually assaulting teenage pupils, ITV News' Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith reports

A ballet teacher who held a senior position at a prestigious dance school in Scotland has been acquitted of sexually assaulting teenage pupils.

Jonathan Barton, 41, faced eight charges against eight different women during a trial at Dumbarton Sheriff Court.

Six of the charges alleged sexual assault by touching during ballet classes. Two alleged "abuse of position of trust" relating to sexual relationships.

Mr Barton said he had sex with both girls but insisted they were over the age of 18. The charges ranged from 2004 until 2019.

Mr Barton, of Argyll, denied the allegations and the jury was shown videos of other ballet teachers touching pupils in areas including their thighs.

Ballet West. Credit: ITV News

Mr Barton was found not guilty of all six allegations of sexual assault by touching after a two-and-a-half-week trial.

He was found not guilty of one charge of abusing a position of trust and not proven on the other.

During the trial, Mr Baton was asked if “inappropriate” or “unnecessary” corrections ever occurred, which he denied.

He insisted it was “normal” for touching to take place without consent, and it was “not possible” for his head to be close to a girl’s crotch during a plie.

Mr Barton told the court that physical corrections were necessary for dancing to be “safe”, and his job was “to highlight danger points for them”.

One of the complainants said in evidence she felt “very uncomfortable during lessons”, and claimed Mr Barton “stood for about 10 or 15 seconds with his head close to my crotch”, and she felt verbal corrections would have been sufficient.

Mr Barton said: “I remember one time correcting her plie, it needed correcting.

“I can assure you it’s not as simple as that, if you didn’t have the opportunity to feel the correction, you will not understand the full physicality of what you need to do.”

Giving evidence, Mr Barton agreed he did touch a pupil’s jawline, which was part of a complaint, but said it was to improve her posture.

After the trial concluded Sheriff William Gallacher told him: "You are free to go."

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