A ballet teacher from Oban who’s on trial for alleged sex offences against dance school students has accused them of conspiring against him.
Jonathan Barton denies breaching a position of trust by having inappropriate relations with eight females aged between 16 and 19 between 2004 and 2019.
The 41-year-old is alleged to have had sexual intercourse with two teenage students at the dance school on Argyll and Bute.
After the prosecutor – fiscal depute Dana Barclay – closed the Crown’s case at Dumbarton Sheriff Court, Barton gave evidence in his defence.
On Friday, he was cross-examined by Miss Barclay.
“Are you asking the jury to believe these women came forward in some form of conspiracy against you?” the fiscal depute asked Barton.
He replied: “Yes. I watched this conspiracy come together online. They messaged each other. I witnessed it first-hand.”
Ballet teacher Jonathan Barton denied taking advantage of dance school students
The court had earlier heard Barton admitting to having sex with two pupils at the school but denying he taught one of them.
Barton also claimed that both of the students were over the age of 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 responded: “I’m trying to explain what happened under oath”.
He also refuted one of the girl’s allegations that she had been “groomed” by him.
Miss Barclay later suggested to the accused: “You used your position to take advantage of these young women”.
But Barton answered: “Absolutely not”.
He also denied handling another pupil’s buttocks, instead claiming it was her lower back.
“Your position is that eight women have come to this court to tell lies to the police, gave witness statements and told lies under oath to the jury?” Miss Barclay queried.
“Yes,” Barton said back to the prosecutor.
Gary McAteer, defending Barton, asked his client if he heard evidence of anyone flinching from his touch and he replied: “No”.
The lawyer also questioned if a pianist, another instructor or teacher ever questioned his behaviour.
Again, Barton responded: “No”.
Accused Oban man’s defence lawyer quizzes former professional ballet dancer
Former professional ballet dancer Wendy Wright, 71, was asked by Mr McAteer if there was anything wrong with physical touch when correcting moves in ballet.
She answered: “To me, not at all. If you are verbally speaking to someone, would they understand where the actual muscles were that you have to feel, squeeze and touch so they know exactly what they are doing?”
The lawyer further probed whether Mrs Wright had touched someone on the buttocks when correcting them.
She stated it was “part of the training” to feel the muscle.
The trial, before Sheriff William Gallacher, continues on Tuesday December 5.