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Max Pitruzzella Accused of Sexual Assault by 5 Women

  • Joined 1/20/99
  • 14884
  • Featured > News
  • Posted Thursday, January 19, 2017
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Ruth Evelyn, a Boston-based lindy dancer and instructor, posted to her Facebook wall a couple of days ago a very disturbing account of sexual assault by French lindy hopper Max Angelo Hurtado Pitruzella. You can read all of her harrowing account here (WARNING: description of sexual assault.) The incident she reports as happening at Lindy Focus 2014 in Asheville, North Carolina.

As of this news item going out, Ruth’s post has been shared more than 1,200 times and has nearly 1,000 comments, largely expressions of comfort and solidarity. Since then, two other lindy hoppers shared very similar accounts of assaults by Max Pitruzzella (account one and account two), also at Lindy Focus 2014.

In related news, the dance shoe company “Savoy Max Angelo” (which was named after Max Pitruzzella) announced recently that they are rebranding, to show solidarity with Ruth Evelyn and other women who have been sexually assaulted in the scene by Max Pitruzzella.

We at Yehoodi are appalled and sobered by this, two years after Steven Mitchell’s despicable treatment of women came to light. Our solidarity and support goes out to these victims.

Meanwhile, we would note that there is a lot that we all can do to protect people in our scene. See our list of resources for fostering safer dance scenes and spaces, as well as conversations with lindy bloggers, event organizers and instructors that we organized a couple of years ago.

Sadly, this dark topic remains vital today.

[As this is an ongoing and evolving story, we'll try and keep this news item updated.]


UPDATE January 20

A fourth woman has come forward and posted publicly to her Facebook wall about an account of a sexual assault she endured by Max Pitruzzella. You can read Ashley Hill's account at this link.

Annie Trudeau, former dance partner and ex-girlfriend of Max Pitruzzella also released a statement about the sad state of affairs with an expression of support and remorse. You can read it in it's entirety in the comments below.


SECOND UPDATE January 20

French dancer and former partner of Max Pitruzzella , Tatiana Udry, has posted to her a Facebook wall a long, detailed statement written by her boyfriend Alexander Iskandar Macedo, detailing both a long history of abuse and sexual assault, as well as intimidation and denials by Max and others.

An important distinction here is that this is the first instance where the victim is pursuing legal action against Max. In this case, through the French legal system.

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  • Joined 1/20/99
  • 14884
  • Post #1
  • Originally posted Thursday, January 19, 2017 (2 months ago)

Annie Trudeau, former dance partner and ex-girlfriend of Max Pitruzzella, put out a Facebook post that she agreed could be shared. It's pasted below:

Dear Lindy Hop and Swing Community,

I share with you below my post a summary of very disturbing stories that has been shared lately involving Max Pitruzzella, a french professional dancer who is also my ex-dance teaching&competing partner (full-time 2007-2011 and occasionally after that until 2015) and my ex-boyfriend (2007-2011). I would like to share with you my experience and my thoughts on this terrifying and important matter.

First of all, I want to send my sincere support and love to all victims who are speaking out. Ruth, and other survivors I know and might not know: I believe you, I stand with you - this is tragic and you did not deserve any of this bad treatment. You may wonder how a person like me did not see any of this happening, you might wonder why the partner that was teaching with him at that Lindy Focus didn't know about this... well that is the very sad truth and I hope my post can help you understand better.

And before I start with the story:

*** To all students out there : a human being is only human, regardless if he is a great artist, if he or she is good looking, accomplished or popular. Nobody should be intimidating you, or try to make you things you do not want. If you feel something is off, trust your instinct. Your heart knows and your value is in your integrity, values, and the extent of your heart. Not in titles or in popularity. ***

A long time ago, while Max and I were full-time partner and were dating, I talked to him countless times about his disrespectful manners. The ones towards me, and the ones towards other people I could witness. I almost always felt alone trying to reason with him because it always ended up in big arguments, and most often times, threats of different kinds. So people around me usually avoided confrontation. Also everybody was seeking for his friendship as everybody admired him so much. I always thought this was weird as he could get away with so much stuff but that was how life was and I tried as best I could to open his heart and make him take responsibility for things.

I left him in 2011 because he was unfaithful and I felt very stupid to not have seen that before but that was my journey and I was in love with him and hoped he loved me the same way. Yes it sounds very stupid now, but back then that is how I felt. I wish I didn't have to share this but I feel it is pertinent here. After that, I could see how he was flirting with ladies quite a lot but honestly I was not around him so much outside of classes or when we would go to a group dinner or something. I almost always go to bed early, I don't party really when I am at events (or ever...), I am the kind to go to work and have fun in a sober fashion. So we were partners at events but he really was doing his own thing and I didn't want to know so much about it also as it was painful being the ex-girlfriend for a while, and later on when I moved on I thought he could make his own choices and I didn't want to interfere. My focus was to try to dance as best as I could, give good classes and inspire people. Do my part, in the most positive way with my limited means.

In summer 2015, a lady confided to me of being assaulted by Max. She wanted to keep silent, she didn't want him to know that she spoke, she didn't want me to discuss this with anyone. I felt really bad, as I had one last gig planned with him in Singapore (october 2015) and I didn't know what I could do. Cancelling my involvement wouldn't cancel his, and I couldn't attempt to talk to the organizers without putting this ladies anonymity in jeopardy, as I hoped it was an isolated case. That was going to be my last gig with him regardless, as my husband and I wanted to be pregnant and also because he was gearing his career with other dancers and I felt our teaching methods were different enough that even with our history together, it was not worth pursuing. So after I heard that story, it was clear to me that I wouldn't work with him and I honestly didn't know if I would teach internationally so much anymore as I wanted kids and didn't want to invest time in a new partnership of the kind. It was going to be destiny who would decide. I love dancing so much, and I love to teach people and empower them, so I had to believe that after my other dream to have a family happens, the rest would happen in one way or another and in the meantime if people were to speak out, I would absolutely support them. And this happened, thanks to all those who have infinite courage to speak out and share their experience to prevent others from suffering.

I hope this explains a little bit and I am sorry if my actions were not enough to make more of positive difference. I honestly did my best and I will continue to do so although I understand sometimes our best is not enough. If you would like to discuss things with me in order to find ways to better my knowledge and the community's knowledge about how to handle this kind of situation, please reach out to me. In Montreal, a group of local leaders including myself get together to ensure good collaboration and safe spaces so I am very interested in this topic although I don't consider myself an expert. I want to keep an open-mind and do my part. I want to stand with those who have been harmed with the best of my heart and capacities. I am imperfect and on a journey to be a better human being - I want stay vulnerable, open-minded, and I want to learn and grow. I share this with you because of this, because I feel guilty I didn't do more, but I sincerely did my best with my capacities and extent of my knowledge as well-being of people around me was always at the top of my priorities. And that include colleagues, students, friends and family.

Thank you for reading,

-Annie.

PS I am sorry I did not react faster, especially to those who are hurting. This is all really difficult for me to read and I wanted to gather my thoughts. Also, I am in Hawaii with my family. Sounds like a dumb excuse, sorry about that. While I am in the sorry mode, I will also say that english is not my 1st language so if anything sounds funny, that might be why and if you have any questions, please feel free to write me a personal message or an email (annietrudeau@gmail.com) and I am open to discuss anything you would like. I will be back from my trip on Jan 28th. I want to be there to give emotional support - and any other kind of support - the best I can to those in need.

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