Royal Winnipeg Ballet agrees to $10M settlement over instructor's photographs

·2 min read

WINNIPEG — A settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit against the Royal Winnipeg Ballet over allegations a former teacher and photographer took intimate photos of students and released them without their consent.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs say in a release that the dance company has agreed to pay $10 million on behalf of itself and Bruce Monk in exchange for a dismissal of claims against the two.

A court hearing for the approval is to take place on Feb. 11 by video conference.

The class action was brought forth on behalf of students who attended the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School between 1984 and 2015 and were alleged to have been photographed by Monk in a private setting.

The lawsuit alleged that Monk took nude, semi-nude and intimate photographs of students, some of which he published, sold and disseminated online.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet confirmed in a statement that a proposed settlement has been reached, but would not comment further until it has been approved.

André Lewis, artistic director and chief executive officer, said in a statement that Monk was fired shortly after an investigation began.

"The safety of our students, staff and dancers remains the highest priority for us and we continue to work with organizations like the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to ensure our policies and procedures at the RWB do all they can to provide a safe environment for everyone," he said.

The claim alleged that Monk distributed the photos without the students' consent, Toronto-based law firm Waddell Phillips said in the release.

The lawsuit alleged Monk used his position of trust and power to invade the privacy of students.

It did not allege Monk's conduct was criminal and none of the allegations has been proven in court.

Under terms of agreement for the settlement, students can make a claim using photos or witness statements, but supporting evidence will not be required.

Waddell Phillips says the claims will be assessed by independent adjudicators.

The settlement is to include a one-time payment of $1,000 for health services to any eligible students and a total payment of up to $2,500 for family members who have been affected by a student's trauma, the statement says. The balance is to be paid to the students based upon the severity of harm done.

Claims will be open for 12 months from the time the settlement is approved.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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