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THE SCOOP | Child Sex Offender Discovered In National Ballet’s Nutcracker Production

By Jennifer Liu on December 21, 2017

Details emerge about a well-known Toronto-based violinist and convicted sex offender, James Aylesworth (pictured) who has been working alongside children as young as 6-years-old at The National Ballet of Canada. (Photo: The National Ballet Of Canada)

Ludwig Van has unearthed details of an undetected child sex offender who has appeared on stage alongside young children in the city. The incidents occurred as recently as this month in a major classical music performance series.

According to Ontario Provincial court documents obtained by Ludwig Van, James Aylesworth, approximately 45, is currently prohibited from unauthorized contact with minors as per a court order issued in February 2008. On Dec. 10, CBC’s The National broadcasted Aylesworth dancing on stage with children in the National Ballet’s ongoing production of The Nutcracker.

During the concert season, Aylesworth also performs as a prominent violinist with the city’s eminent orchestras: he is a second violinist in both the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and the National Ballet Orchestra.

When reached for comment, both institutions declined to answer any questions, other than to say that they both consider this a serious matter and both institutions will be launching internal investigations. After seeking comment from the The National Ballet, they have confirmed they have pulled him from all future scheduled Nutcracker performances until further notice.

Court documents indicate that Aylesworth had been routinely accessing child pornography since 2000. Toronto police were alerted to his activities by American police, who had tracked down his purchases from a U.S. website. Over 1000 images of pornography were seized from his home.


The court file details the images of young boys aged seven to ten. The children were shown touching each other or themselves. Many images focus on the anal and genital regions.

Aylesworth had sought professional help for his behaviour since September 2001. Evaluations disclose his deep-set personal struggles with depression and alcoholism in addition to issues of self-esteem, child pornography and sexual orientation.

A psychiatrist recorded that Aylesworth self-identified as gay, and that “since he was five years old he knew that he was different.”

At the time of the report, Aylesworth was in his 14th year of work with the National Ballet Orchestra.

“He is around a lot of children at his job with the Ballet, but he is never alone with them,” the psychiatrist’s evaluation continues. “He says that his colleagues know about his sexual interests.”

The same psychiatrist concluded, “In the absence of an antisocial personality disorder, absence of any prior criminal history, high intelligence, […] and absence of full-blown pedophilic problem, the risk that Mr. Aylesworth poses to the community is very low. Coupled with good insight and excellent progress in therapy, he is unlikely to re-offend.”

That said, the psychiatrist recommended that Aylesworth be issued a three-year court order prohibiting him from unapproved contact with children under age 18.

Aylesworth pled guilty to possession of child pornography and was issued a suspended sentence with three years probation. Additionally, 10-year ancillary orders were issued under the Criminal Code and the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, extending to February 2018.

In 2015-16, Aylesworth also served as COC Orchestra Academy mentor to an aspiring young musician. It is not known if the COC were privy to his criminal past, nor if the musician he mentored was informed of it.

Section 163 (passed as Bill C-46) of the criminal code states that unless a pardon has been made, convictions that affect an employee’s ability to perform their job — including being convicted of child pornography offences — are required to be disclosed to employers, especially if the job involves interactions with children.

Considering the severity of such circumstances, it is customary for employers to conduct police background checks for employees working with children or otherwise vulnerable individuals or groups.


With additional reporting from Michael Vincent.


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