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Dance instructors claim Henrico dance studio knew about sex crimes

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.

10 comments

    • clarajeaves

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  • Sandybritches@yahoo.com

    Had he belonged to a church, he may have gotten 2yrs, he did’nt
    have anything to bargain with. But he was teaching their kids and
    got caught. Thats way he got 16, good job Hicks.

  • Yeah right

    she likely knew, this was rumored to be happening with him in other studios before she hired him, and her own staff was a first-hand witness… so saying she didn’t know anything about it is only her trying to cover it up.

  • Disgusted

    The owner did NOT know of ANY prior history. If she did she never would have hired Andrew. Never! I know Tracy very well and she would never, I mean never, put any child in harms way. What Andrew did ANDREW did, not Tracy. He’s being punished accordingly for his sick behavior. Like someone else mentioned, if these girls in this interview were so sure of Andrews behaviors why didn’t they go to the police when it happened? Because they didn’t know for sure either. They are lying about the details. These girls need to move on, grow up and focus on their own lives. Everyone has suffered enough!

    • Casa

      Hey unless you were there dont comment bc yes she did know bc she was told the day the incident happened n also about several other complaints students n parents made against him so shit it or use your real name you coward

    • dancer10085

      Dear Disgusted,

      I’m disgusted too, but not in these brave women, but in you, Tracy Crouch, Andrew, and anyone else who denied these awful crimes. Do you know why these girls (and others of us in the studio) didn’t go to the police right away? It’s because he threatened us; he told us if we told, he’d make us regret it. I personally went to Tracy when Andrew did inappropriate things to me and she told me I could leave if I didn’t like it, but he wasn’t going anywhere. I will go to my grave with that. And because of her inaction, some of us were stalked, followed, and worst of all, five girls (at least) lost a huge part of their childhood.

      Is Andrew most to blame? Absolutely. But as an adult who vowed to protect her students, Tracy failed me, those girls, and her entire academy. I don’t know how she sleeps at night, but I hope it’s not soundly.

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