Anchorage Ballet enrollment down amid sexual misconduct investigations
In a dance studio filled with a couple dozen parents and a few young students, the non-profit organization Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy (ACBA) board held its first meeting since allegations of sexual misconduct against ACBA founder and artistic director Michelangelo Canale became public.
The Anchorage Police Department's special victims unit detectives are investigating Canale, 50, and have asked any other potential victims to come forward after 27-year-old Alex Icet and 19-year-old Allison Ackles spoke with KTVA in December. Icet said Canale sexually assaulted her after a performance of “The Nutcracker” in November, and Ackles described systematic sexual misconduct at the ballet at Canale’s hands.
Canale has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of APD's investigation, and a second investigation the board launched independently.
ACBA Board President Ed Barrington was the only board member present at Sunday's meeting. He told KTVA one board member resigned following news of the allegations against Canale, leaving only three of six board seats occupied.
Barrington included the public comment portion of Sunday's meeting during which parents were invited to voice their concerns in an executive session, which excluded members of the media.
"Maybe if they had just handled this differently, they would get to keep the loyal customers that they've had. That's all they had to do is just let us know what's going on, and that there's nothing to worry about," said Rhecy Melgar.
Melgar told KTVA after 10 years with ACBA, she pulled her daughter out of classes and enrolled her at another school due to radio silence from the board in the wake of what Barrington referred to as a "crisis".
According to Barrington, she's not the only one. He says the academy has lost 25 to 30 percent of it's enrollment since the first of the year.
"If I had a choice, we would like to stick to this school because we loved it," said Melgar.
Barrington tells KTVA he's hopeful they can win back members they've lost, saying during the meeting, "we just have to get through the recent crisis," and that these types of situations, "happen here and there, so we just have to weather it through."
He also took on responsibility for parents' frustrations, saying that he's been under strict legal advisement "to not say anything."
After Sunday's meeting, several parents signed up to be considered for the three vacant board positions.
As of Sunday, an APD spokesperson said there were no updates to share in the department's investigation into Canale.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.
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