The Anchorage Police Department's Special Victims Unit is investigating a report of sexual assault against 50-year-old Michelangelo Canale, the founder and artistic director of Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy. 

In a Nixle alert Wednesday, APD wrote, "Anyone who believes they are either a victim or has knowledge of someone else who may be, is requested to call Police Dispatch and ask to speak with a Sexual Assault Detective (786-8900, press “0”)." 

KTVA first reported APD's investigation Monday, when two former ACBA students came forward with claims of sexual misconduct. Alex Icet, 27, and Allison Ackles, 19, met with KTVA to detail what they believe is systematic sexual misconduct in an environment that has permitted the behavior to go on for years.

Icet first broke her silence in a Facebook post dated December 14, accusing Canale of sexually assaulting her on the night of Friday, Dec. 8, following the first of two presentations of "The Nutcracker."

Beyond serious accusations of sexual misconduct, both Ackles and Icet addressed a concerning culture within the academy they describe as "toxic."

Ackles described a day when Michelangelo brought a scale into class and made each student weigh in, excusing anyone from the class who didn't fall under his preferred maximum weight, including Ackles.

She also told KTVA he advised her to eat "a beet for breakfast, a carrot for lunch, and an apple for dinner," and nothing more.

A letter provided to KTVA that was reportedly presented to the Anchorage Ballet Board on behalf of several parents back in 2016 corroborates those concerns.

The letter states, "[Michelangelo] has publicly humiliated many dancers. He has publicly engaged in body shaming of many dancers. He has dismissed dancers from class 'because of your face.' He makes his remarks personal and demeaning."

The letter outlined concerns of alcohol abuse, potential misuse of funds, and unsupervised private lessons saying, "We ask the board to consider carefully whether Michelangelo is the best fit for Anchorage Ballet. His manipulative behavior, bullying of the dancers and pitting them against each other and questionable motives for insisting some dancers have private lessons with him (without anyone allowed to observe) should not be overlooked or swept under the rug." 

APD confirmed Monday the department "received a report of sexual assault regarding Mr. Canale. It was reported on the 14th but the alleged event was the 8th. The case has been assigned to the Special Victims Unit.”

The Anchorage Ballet board president Edward Barrington said in an email to KTVA Monday:

“The board is aware of these shocking allegations and is taking action in the regard. I am in Texas at this time and another board member is in Panama. We are in the process of securing legal representation and will issue a formal statement as soon as possible. The ballet, staff and students is our primary focus and concern and we ask all involved for their patience in this matter.”

Barrington said the academy would comment further on the situation in a statement after Christmas next week. 

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