A former Dancing with the Stars finalist performed the “most intimate dance” with a woman he allegedly went on to sexually abuse, a court has heard.
Trenton Shipley, 48, is facing seven charges related to the alleged sexual contact and assault of a woman at a Sydney dance studio in 2021.
In 2005, Mr Shipley reached the final of Dancing with the Stars as a partner of Seven News presenter Chris Bath.
It is alleged that one evening between 10pm and 4am, Mr Shipley kissed a woman on the face and neck and touched her breasts and genitals without her consent.
Mr Shipley appeared in Downing Center local court on Tuesday for a trial set to continue this week. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Experienced dance teacher Leeanne Bampton, who owns the Annandale studio where the alleged crime took place, has testified in court.
Both Mr Shipley and the alleged victim were invited to spend the night in a unit attached to the studio where Ms Bampton lives.
She told the court she had seen Mr Shipley dance a rumba with the alleged victim earlier in the evening – describing it as a “very intimate dance”.
“Of all dances, this is the most intimate dance. It is a very close, tactile dance. There’s a lot of emotion in it,’ said Mrs Bampton.
“You move very fast, in and out, every body part touches each other. You intertwine your legs. You are cheek to cheek.”
According to Ms. Bampton, it is normal for dancers to spontaneously touch each other and even what could be considered “kissing” while dancing together.
“You just do it spontaneously, that’s what we do. We don’t take offense,” she said.
“I grab someone on the bottom every hour to show them a move.”
However, she said there was a level of implicit boundaries that were different for each dancer, but could be measured by how they present themselves or respond to touch.
She added that touching the “crutch or breasts” would generally cross a line.
“You learn a little bit of choreography and you work out to make it look as natural as a sex act as possible,” said Ms. Bampton.
“They know that once they stop dancing, it’s just part of dancing.”
Ms Bampton said the pair looked like they enjoyed dancing together and that she had also briefly started dancing with Mr Shipley because she felt left out.
She said Mr Shipley had “considered a lot of drinking” and began criticizing his alleged victim’s dancing skills, she told the court.
“In the beginning she enjoyed it. She enjoyed dancing. She giggled, laughed,” she said.
“It started to change. It became more critical.”
Later, Mrs. Bampton asked the drunken Mr. Shipley to sleep in the studio, which involved helping him undress and take a shower.
“He didn’t seem to be in a very good mental state. I wanted him to stay. I was worried about him,” she said.
According to Ms Bampton, the last thing she remembered was putting Mr Shipley in bed next to her and falling asleep.
The next morning, the alleged victim told her that something had happened to Mr. Shipley that night.
“She said that while she was sleeping, Trenton came down naked and jumped into bed with her,” Ms Bampton said.
“I asked her if anything had happened and she said ‘no,’ but it scared her.”
According to court documents, police allege that Mr Shipley touched the woman’s breasts and genitals at 4:10 a.m.
Mr Shipley will remain on bail under strict conditions, including that he will not contact or interfere with the complainant or go to certain addresses in Sydney.