Dance instructors claim Henrico dance studio knew about sex crimes

Posted at 12:58 AM, Dec 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-13 06:57:19-05

HENRICO, VA (WTVR) -- On Wednesday, former Henrico Dance instructor Andrew Defiesta was sentenced to 16 years in prison for having, or trying to have, sex with five different underage students.

medical expert testified that Defiesta has an abnormal sexual appetite for teens. On Thursday, the blame game began. With individuals wondering if the crimes could have been prevented?

Four former dancers and employees of Regency Dance Academy spoke about the ordeal, many for the first time, in an exclusive interview with CBS 6 Reporter Joe St. George.

The four women - Robin Minozze, Cariel Hughes, Michelle Marx, Nicole Davis - said they told the owner of Regency Dance Academy about Defiesta's behavior well before he was arrested and that he was still allowed to be employed at the studio.

Michelle Marx testified in court Wednesday that she walked in on Defiesta having sex with a teenage dance student. Marx said Thursday she was disappointed how studio owners responded when she first told them.

"I said, unfortunately Andrew was having sex in the lobby of your studio," Marx recalled, and added that Regency owners seemed to brush her complaint off.

"In hindsight I wish I had right then," Marx replied when asked why she didn't go to the police.

CBS 6 reached out to Regency owner Tracy Crouch, who responded with a phone interview.

"I am Tracy Crouch and I am the owner of Regency Dance Academy for 25 years now. I have run a successful family-oriented business with three generations of students that now dance with me. Some of which have been here the entire 25 years.

Upon hiring my teachers, I do reference and background checks and up to the point that the news broke about Andrew Defiesta, I never had one complaint from a parent or a student concerning Andrew. He was the most popular teacher at my studio.

Whatever incidents occurred, were not during operating hours and I knew nothing about these incidents. Whatever has been said or is being said about me, my studio, or my character in a negative connotation is a lie.

There are several people, a former teacher,a former student and a former janitor that have slandered my name and my character. I will emphatically state that I was absolutely not given any evidence of Andrew's wrongdoings prior to his arrest."

Tracy Crouch's husband John, told CBS 6 reporter via phone that the studio did investigate Marx's accusation, but that it could not be proven.

Defiesta was hired as a former military veteran with a clean criminal record.

The Crouch's said that have taken steps to ensure this never happens again in their studio by installing state of the art cameras.

When asked by St. George whether or not Henrico county was considering charges against the dance studio, Commonwealth Attorney Linda Scott said she "could not talk about that at this time."

Judge Gary Hicks sentenced 35-year-old Andrew Defiesta to 90 years in prison with 74 years of the sentence suspended. As a result, Defiesta will spend 16 years in prison.

Hicks called the case nauseating and disgusting.

Defiesta cried as he addressed the court saying he had shamed his family, as well as his country. He pleaded guilty to 18 counts, including taking indecent liberties with a minor and child porn charges, in August.

A medical expert testified Defiesta suffered from, Ephebophilia which was defined as an abnormal sexual appetite for mature teens. The expert said the disorder was triggered while Defiesta was serving in the military and killed a teenager in Iraq.