Manitoba

Ballet Victoria cuts ties with former Royal Winnipeg Ballet instructor Bruce Monk

A B.C. ballet company says it has cut ties with a former Winnipeg instructor who was fired in 2015 for allegedly taking nude photos of underage students two days after CBC News revealed he was actively volunteering and doing contract work for the company in Victoria.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet fired Monk after allegations he took nude photos of underage dancers

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet fired Bruce Monk in 2015. (CBC)

A B.C. ballet company says it has cut ties with a former Winnipeg instructor who was fired in 2015 for allegedly taking nude photos of underage students.

The move from the ballet company comes two days after CBC News revealed he was actively volunteering and doing contract work for the company in Victoria.

Ballet Victoria said in a statement it's cut ties with Bruce Monk, who had been doing choreography and lighting work for the company.

"To ensure the integrity of the company Bruce Monk will no longer be involved with Ballet Victoria," an emailed statement from the ballet said. 

CBC News revealed on Monday Monk was actively involved with the ballet as a volunteer and contract worker.

"My first reaction was relief. Pure and simple," Toronto woman Sarah Doucet said in an email Wednesday after learning Monk was no longer at Ballet Victoria.

Doucet contacted the ballet earlier this year after seeing a photo of Monk rehearsing with a female company member. 

The former Royal Winnipeg Ballet student, alleges Monk asked her to pull down her straps to prevent them from interfering with her neckline, leaving her unitard down around her waist while she was 16 or 17 during a photo shoot. Doucet has launched a proposed class action lawsuit against Monk.

CBC's Monday story sparked outrage from some people who tagged the ballet in social media posts. "It's unfortunate that it took public pressure for Ballet Victoria to finally do the right thing," Doucet said.

Monk, a renowned photographer, was the subject of a Winnipeg police investigation after multiple women came forward to the media and police alleging he took nude photos of them while they were dancers at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Police investigated but never charged Monk.

Sarah Doucet told CBC in an email she was feeling 'shock and disbelief,' after seeing a photo of Monk on Ballet Victoria's Facebook page. (Wally Santana/Associated Press)

At the time, Manitoba Justice said the Crown reviewed the case and recommended against charges because a conviction was unlikely. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet fired him in 2015. Ballet Victoria said Monk came to the ballet in 2008 as a guest choreographer.

The ballet said when allegations were made against him in Winnipeg, it severed ties with him until police announced no charges would be laid. In 2016, Monk started working on small contracts as a lighting and production designer and volunteered in the ballet's office and as a driver with the company, Ballet Victoria said.

The company's executive director, Paul Destrooper, told CBC he knew standing by Monk would open him and his ballet to backlash, but insisted because Monk, a close friend, was never charged with a crime, he saw no reason he couldn't be involved with the ballet.

CBC has reached out to Monk's Winnipeg lawyer for comment. Monk has previously denied any wrongdoing and called allegations against him meritless.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

​Austin Grabish is a reporter for CBC News in Winnipeg. Since joining CBC in 2016, he's covered several major stories. Some of his career highlights have been documenting the plight of asylum seekers leaving America in the dead of winter for Canada and the 2019 manhunt for two teenage murder suspects. In 2021, he won an RTDNA Canada award for his investigative reporting on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which triggered change. Have a story idea? Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca

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