Ballet teacher, 41, is CLEARED of sexually abusing studentsDecember 6, 2023
BREAKING NEWS Ballet teacher, 41, is CLEARED of sexually abusing students at prestigious dance school
A ballet teacher was today cleared of sexually abusing students at a prestigious dance school while in a position of trust.
Jonathan Barton, 41, was accused of a total of eight sexual offences against eight girls said to be aged between 16 and 19 at a dance school on Argyll and Bute between 2004 and 2019.
Barton stated during the two-week trial that he had sex with both girls but they were over the age of 18. He further claimed that he was not a teacher to one of the girls he had sex with.
The ballet teacher also claimed that the women who gave evidence at court had lied and that he was the victim of an online ‘conspiracy.’
Barton, of Oban, was found not guilty to one of the charges which claims he was in a ‘position of trust’ when he engaged in sexual intercourse with a student. The jury found Barton not proven for the other sexual intercourse charge while in a position of trust against another girl.
Barton was found not guilty to further charges of sexual assault against six other girls.
Photographs from today show Jonathan Barton looking expressionless as he arrived at Dumbarton Court with his hands in his pockets
Sheriff William Gallacher said: ‘By the verdict of each of the charges, you have been acquitted by the jury and are free to go.’
Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard from the a woman joined the school as a 16-year-old in September 2004.
The woman said she ‘looked up’ to Barton who she described as a ‘talented individual.’ She stated that ‘flirtatious’ Barton was ‘touchy feely’ and gave her extra attention in classes.
The woman claimed that Barton first kissed her when she was 16 outside of a chalet she stayed in with other students on campus. She claimed to have had sex with Barton for the first time when he asked her to go to his bedroom after dark.
The woman said Barton showed her his medals from a prestigious competition. She stated: ‘He said if you stick with me, you can have one of these yourself one day. I didn’t read into it too much – it was a little creepy.’
Prosecutor Dana Barclay asked the witness how she felt about having sex with Barton and she replied: ‘I think nervous was the overriding feeling – I shouldn’t be doing this.
‘You are young and someone you completely admire is giving you attention is a different feeling.’
The woman recalled another occasion when she had sex with Barton in a shower at the property. She said: ‘I guess in a way it was exciting, this was someone that you admired, there was that level of shame after it and confusion.’
Miss Barclay asked the witness if she told other pupils about where she had been.
Barton, 41, is charged with ten offences against girls when they were under 18, and when he was in a position of trust as a teacher at the school while they were students
The woman replied: ‘No, it was quite common knowledge that Jonathan would sleep with students.’
She stated Barton’s feelings towards her changed and felt she was being ‘punished’ by him. The woman added that there was a reduction in the level of attention that he gave towards her.
The woman told the court that she left the ballet school at the end of the school year due to not liking the environment and dealing with severe anxiety.
Miss Barclay asked what this was a result of and the woman replied: ‘Things changing and the way I was treated.’
Miss Barclay: ‘Who changed the way you were treated?’
The woman: ‘Jonathan.’
A 33-year-old woman claimed that she had a sexual ‘affair’ with Barton and compared the school to a ‘cult.’ She stated she also started the school as a 16-year-old in 2006 where she received private dance lessons.
The woman claimed she kissed ‘charismatic’ Barton who gave her a ‘lingering touch’ when correcting her dance positions.
She stated she began a relationship with Barton from November 2006 until June 2007.
The woman said: ‘At 16, I thought I was meeting my Prince Charming who I thought was saving the day for me.’
Miss Barclay: ‘You considered yourself having a relationship at 16?’
The witness: ‘Yes.’
The woman recalled an occasion when she was asked to ‘sneak in’ to Barton’s room.
She said: ‘We were lying on his bed and had a conversation and things escalated. We would kiss and ended up having sex.’
The woman stated that Barton told her to leave through a back terrace attached to his bedroom.
Miss Barclay asked the witness how she felt and she replied: ‘I felt special, I felt wanted, I was excited. It was as if I was going to have a wonderful relationship with this man who helped me get through this difficult time. I thought I met my Prince Charming.’
The woman claimed the relationship ended after she gave him an ultimatum to choose between her and his then girlfriend.
The woman stated she contacted the police about Barton after having a child of her own.
The woman said: ‘As soon I had a child, my little boy, I just felt like the only way to describe it, as the school is so out the way, is almost a bubble or a cult. You are just brainwashed into just that bubble up there.’
Gary McAteer, defending, asked the witness about calling the school a cult.
She replied: ‘It felt like a cult – that’s how I felt, that’s how I describe it to someone who had never been up there.’
A police statement from a 21-year-old former pupil was read out to the court. She stated that Barton ‘regularly’ gave her corrections, touched her on various areas of the body and put his hand near an intimate area. She claimed the length of time he spent close with her ‘was something he did for sexual pleasure.’
Barton in his evidence, claimed he had sex with both of the girls who he claimed were over 18.
Miss Barclay put to him: ‘If these girls were 18, you would not be facing these charges, this is desperate lies as you are being held to account for what could be described as predatory behaviour.’
Barton replied: ‘I’m trying to explain what happened under oath.’
He also denied allegations of grooming against him.
The fiscal depute said: ‘Are you asking the jury to believe these women came forward in some form of conspiracy against you?’
Barton replied: ‘Yes, I watched this conspiracy come together online – they messaged each other. I witnessed it first hand.’
Miss Barclay: ‘Your position is that eight women have came to this court to tell lies to the police, gave witness statements and told lies under oath to the jury?’
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