Longform

Dirty Dancing

Page 5 of 7

In this final dance, Gale put his hand between the woman's legs, cupping her genital area through her clothing, and told her to imagine peeing in his hand, according to police reports. He asked her to keep this between the two of them, too, and she agreed.

After the lesson was over, the woman called the DPD.

Gale was apologetic when a Denver police detective contacted him, and admitted that he'd exposed himself during the lesson. He said that while he didn't recall touching the woman's genitals, the "peeing" line was one of his teaching techniques.

Gale was charged with indecent exposure and unlawful public indecency. On April 3, he pleaded guilty to the indecent-exposure charge in exchange for the public-indecency charge being dismissed.

Suddenly the tango community's big secret was no longer a secret.


And more secrets were about to spill. On April 17, Gale was charged with unlawful sexual contact in connection with his behavior with another student. In February, the woman had gone to the Denver Police Department with complaints that Gale had fondled her breasts at the first lesson, then placed his hand between her legs and groped her on a second. There was no third lesson.

Gale pleaded not guilty. He has a trial set in October on that charge; if he is convicted, he faces up to two years in jail and a $5,000 fine, and his name will also be added to the state's sex-offender registry.

Gale's legal woes came up at a Tango Colorado board meeting in April. Gale, who was at the meeting, was invited to discuss his situation but declined, citing his pending criminal case and sentencing. Neither of the women who'd filed charges against him, both relative newcomers to tango, were in attendance.

But some Turnverein boardmembers were there, and Gale again become a topic of discussion at a Turnverein meeting in May, during which women who claimed to have been mistreated by him shared their stories.

On June 26, exactly one year after the incident that led to the indecent-exposure plea, Gale was sentenced to 365 days in jail, suspended if he completes a psycho-sexual evaluation, continues with mental-health treatment and completes two years of probation. The judge restricted Gale from teaching one-on-one.

By now, Gale was running out of teaching options. On July 3, he was banned from entering the Turnverein, because his plea made him a liability, the board that runs the facility said. Gale then relinquished his membership in Tango Colorado, because being able to use the Turnverein is a prerequisite for belonging to that group. He's no longer on Tango Colorado's list of twenty endorsed teachers. And other tango hot spots, including the Mercury Cafe, Blue Ice and the Avalon Ballroom in Boulder, have also banned Gale.

"I'm really not in a position to talk about my difficulties, my legal mess," Gale says. "There's a lot of things still up in the air, and I'm just not at liberty to talk. The ramifications of this will be forever with me." In an open letter to the tango community posted by Brenman, Gales says he regrets "the negative impact that my personal difficulties have had on you. By 'you,' I mean everyone who is not me — every dancer of tango, and everyone connected with the Turnverein or Tango Colorado: Everyone: friend or foe, supporter or detractor, whether you know me well or barely know me at all, please accept my sincerest apology for any discomfort this whole ugly situation may have caused you."

Gaia, too, has sent a letter to the tango community. "To all of you who have reached out publicly and privately, thank you," she writes. "I appreciate it more than I can tell you. To all of you who have publicly or privately spoken ill about me, my partner and the Tango House, I accept your sentiments but won't respond in kind." She also declines to comment in Westword. "I don't think it's going to help his situation," she says.

"It is a shame that Mr. Gale is being vilified before his right to a fair and public trial commences," says Gale's new attorney, Iris Eytan. "The fact that he pleaded guilty to a municipal offense in no way affirms the accuser's version of the facts, and, in fact, there are many reasons why someone would choose to plead guilty which do not include a belief that a crime was committed." Eytan suggests that testimony given by Gale's second accuser at a hearing where she unsuccessfully tried to secure a permanent restraining order would vindicate her client (the judge has closed those files pending further hearings, and the transcript is not yet available). "In fact," she continues, "Mr. Gale is being targeted by members of the tango community who have financial and personal agendas against Mr. Gale. He is innocent. Tango is sensual, not criminal."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Luke Turf