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HENRICO, VA—After a Henrico County dance instructor was arrested for allegedly having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a young female dancer, local child abuse experts have a warning for parents.
Andrew F. de Fiesta, 34, who lives in Chesterfield, was arrested and charged with indecent liberties with a minor while in custodial role Friday, November 16.
Detectives received information de Fiesta, an instructor at Regency Dance Academy in the 8900 block of Quiocassin Road, was possibly having inappropriate sexual relationships with female juvenile dancers at the studio.
Officers said the charges stemmed from a September incident involving a sixteen-year-old female at the studio.
The owner of Regency Dance Academy said he's shocked by the accusations.
"We just looked at each other and went 'what?' This has gotta be a mistake, but obviously it's not," said John Crouch, the owner of Regency Dance Academy.
Crouch says he did not run a background check on de Fiesta, because he came highly recommended form another dance studio.
De Fiesta had taught classes for more than three years at the studio before being let go Friday. His wife, who also taught at the academy, was also let go.
Crouch said De Fiesta taught dancers ranging in age from young children to adults and was one of the studio's most popular dance instructors.
"They [dancers] actually sought him out for classes," said Crouch.
Jeanine Harper, Executive Director of Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) in Richmond, urges parents to take caution when signing their children up for extracurricular activities.
"Do they have policies and procedures that they can clearly outline that cover screening? What types of checks do they run? Talk about the physical location the children will be in," Harper advises.
It's important for parents to gather as much information as they possibly can before enrolling their child in any type of program.
"If they [parents] meet any kind of resistance from an organization that says, you know, ‘that's not something you need to be concerned about,' or it's inadequate information, then that raises a red flag and that parent should look elsewhere."
If convicted Andrew F. de Fiesta could spend five years in jail, plus receive a $2,500 fine.
"We pray for the families involved," said Crouch. "I can tell you how bad we feel about the situation, but I can imagine it's really rougher on them."
Stay with 8News for updates.
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