Daryl Katz, the billionaire owner of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team, is facing some seriously disturbing accusations amid a legal battle between a ballerina and her former teachers.
As you may recall, last year Boston Ballet star Dusty Button and her husband Mitchell Taylor Button were sued for allegedly sexually assaulting dance students in their care. Mitchell “exploited his position of power and influence in the dance world to sexually abuse young dancers across the country,” per a July 2021 legal doc. Updated filings in October 2021 also named his wife as an accomplice in the alleged abuse.
Since news of the bombshell lawsuit dropped, 7 underage dancers in total have come forward accusing the couple of abuse — one of which was only 13 years old at the time of the alleged incident! Lawsuits and accusations across the board claim the couple have a creepy and criminal history with underage girls. Ballerina Sage Humphries even claimed the couple raped her at gunpoint, according to The New York Times.
Humphries accuses them of sex trafficking in her suit, which puts forth the shocking claim:
“[The Buttons enticed Humphries] to cross state lines with [them] by using threats, intimidation, and the pretense that they would help further her career and professional development, in exchange for engaging in sex acts.”
The dancer also claimed that Dusty “held her down” while Mitchell sexually assaulted her and held a gun to her head. She was only 17 years old when these events allegedly took place… So awful…
A year after the original lawsuit, a countersuit against Sage has now been filed this month. And it alleges something totally different happened…
In a third-party countersuit, the Buttons allege the teen was in a “consensual throuple” with them. These filings also state that she was 18 and not 17 at the time of the relationship — and therefore more legal, if not that much more appropriate considering their position over her. Mitchell and Dusty are ages 35 and 33, respectively, btw. Oh, and the lawsuit was filed in Nevada where the legal age of consent is actually just 16. Yeesh.
The countersuit is a clear attempt to flip the script and paint Sage as less innocent. They even say she was “literally a child prostitute.” The eff??
And here’s where Daryl Katz enters the story…
Specifically, the countersuit accuses the NHL owner and two other men of having a sexual relationship with the model when she was underage. In the new court documents, they allege the billionaire paid $75,000 to the ballerina in exchange for sexual favors. Per the suit:
“Humphries was literally a child prostitute to a billionaire, and her mother assisted her in laundering the money she was paid and in trafficking her to Katz.”
Attached to these filings were alleged text messages between Sage and Katz, with the billionaire purportedly sending a text asking:
“If my guys send u funds will u spend it on/keep it for yourself?”
The reply, which is allegedly from Sage, said:
“Of course I would keep it for myself. I listened to all of the advice you gave me the last time and I don’t take it for granted.”
Then, in probably the most disgusting message of them all, Katz allegedly responds:
“And just between us? Even though u r wise beyond your years given our respected ages it would be taken the wrong way.”
Telling a minor they are “wise” beyond their years is such an obvious grooming tactic. Yuck!
It’s here that the claim alleged the model agreed to a payment of $50,000 from the billionaire. In later texts, the two parties agree to meet as Sage allegedly tells her sugar daddy she has “most weekends off unless we are doing shows”.
The Buttons are redirecting all the blame here, seeking to hold the billionaire and the other unidentified men responsible for damages to Sage — and you know, not themselves at all… Oof, we don’t know how much of a defense this is. But it’s certainly not looking good for Katz!
The pharmaceutical entrepreneur (whose net worth is estimated to be north of $4.4 billion) quickly responded through his lawyer, Robert Klieger, who called the countersuit “baseless and scurrilous”. He admits there was talk of money being exchanged between Sage and Daryl, but says it had nothing to do with inappropriate behavior. One of the billionaire’s many investments is as a partner in Joel Silver‘s production company Silver Pictures — and Klieger told CBS the money was part of a movie deal, explaining:
“One of Daryl’s friends connected him with Sage because Sage was working with some producing partners on shopping a motion picture project that they had put together, basically, and it was based in the ballet world.”
And he told CBC News:
“They ultimately decided to pass on the project. But during the period of time that the project was under consideration, they asked for some help to keep with the funding of the project to keep it going. And that’s the $75,000 that is at issue.”
Funding for development of a movie that doesn’t exist… tough to prove, tough to disprove. But the whole thing comes across as very shady.
This isn’t the first time the Oilers owner has been in hot water with accusations of paying women for sexual favors, either. He was previously accused of offering to pay a Brazilian model and actress, Griece Santo, $20,000 a day for sex. That matter was resolved privately. Hmm…
Yes, this all seems sketchy as hell. But is it all smoke and mirrors on the part of the Buttons?
Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer working with all of the dancers who accused the Boston Ballet couple of abuse, actually agrees the allegations against Katz are false! The attorney held:
“As is typical of abusers facing serious litigation, the Buttons have filed counterclaims that distract from and distort the truth and weaponize the serious allegations of abuse that have been brought against them. Their counterclaims falsely implicate others and are an unfounded attempt to portray the women they abused as liars.”
The lawyers of both parties seem to think this countersuit is just a lot of finger-pointing to distract from the real issue. The attorney representing the Buttons has declined to make any comment to the media about this latest twist in the case.
Since the countersuit was made public, Sage has made her Instagram account private and linked to a Pointe Magazine article about grooming and sexual abuse in the field of ballet. You can read that HERE.
A lot to unpack with this case. What do U think, Perezcious readers? Tell us in the comments (below)!