HENRICO, Va. (WTVR) - Once a beloved dance instructor, 34-year-old Andrew Defiesta is now a convicted sex offender.
On Tuesday, Defiesta pleaded guilty to 18 counts, including taking indecent liberties with a minor and child pornography charges in Henrico County Circuit Court.
Prosecutors said Defiesta had sex with or attempted to have sex with five young students between the ages of 15 and 17 while serving as a dance teacher, most recently at Regency Dance Academy in Henrico County.
The first sexual encounter with a student happened nearly 10 years ago, in 2004, when Defiesta worked at the Latin Ballet Academy. While Defiesta awaits his sentencing scheduled for December 11, prosecutors must decide if Defiesta's wife will face charges as well.
According to the prosecution, Defiesta went to great lengths to cover up his crimes, including asking his wife to lie for him when he was caught by a colleague having sex with a young student last fall.
Former assistant dance instructor, Michelle Marx, said she walked in on Defiesta having sex with the 16-year-old student when the studio was closed.
"His wife called and told me it was her," Marx said.
Defiesta's wife was also an instructor at Regency Dance Academy at the time of the incident. The prosecution alleged Defiesta called his wife from prison to tell her to delete images from their computer that might be perceived as child pornography.
While Virginia's marital privilege law protects spouses in some cases from testifying or being charged, defense attorney Ed Riley said obstruction of justice is not protected under the law.
He said a statute added to Virginia law in 2012 also doesn't offer marital privilege in cases where there's a crime against a minor.
"If it was just the fact that she lied, that's obstruction," Riley argued. "But the destruction of property is more compelling if in fact they can prove that she did erase images."
The prosecution has not said whether charges will be filed against Defiesta's wife. The couple has three children. Riley said if Defiesta's wife is charged with any crimes, prosecutors are more likely to bring those charges after Defiesta's sentencing.