New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins steps down amid sexual misconduct, abuse investigation

Peter Martins steps down as head of New York City Ballet
(Image credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Peter Martins, who has led the New York City Ballet for more than 30 years, stepped down Monday night amid an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and physical and verbal abuse. "I have denied, and continue to deny, that I have engaged in any such misconduct," Martins, 71, wrote to the City Opera board, adding that the scandal had "exacted a painful toll on me and my family." He said he had "cooperated fully in the investigation," by an outside law firm, and understands "it will be completed shortly. I believe its findings would have vindicated me."

Charles Scharf, the chairman of City Ballet's board, thanked Martins "for his tremendous contributions to New York City Ballet as ballet master in chief for over three decades, leading the company to exceptional artistic heights and accomplishments," but added that "the board takes seriously the allegations that have been made against him and we expect the independent investigation of those allegations to be completed soon."

One current and four former City Ballet dancers recently told The New York Times that Martins had physically and verbally abused them as far back as 1993, and 24 former dancers at the City Ballet or its School of American Ballet — where Martins was artistic director and faculty chairman — described a culture in which an untouchable Martins had bullied and body-shamed dancers and abused his power to have sex with select dancers. Martins took a leave of absence last month when the allegations surfaced, and board members were informed of his resignation in a conference call Monday evening, as well as his arrest Thursday in Westchester County on charges of driving while intoxicated, the Times reports.

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Martins made his City Ballet debut in 1967, became a principal dancer in 1970, and look over leadership in 1983 upon the death of founder George Balanchine.

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