September 25, 2019
Joshua Rhett Miller
NY Post


A dance teacher in Florida who was found guilty of molesting a 15-year-old female student has been sentenced to 26 years in prison, prosecutors said.

Lauren Debenedetta, 41, was sentenced Monday after a jury found her guilty in July of four counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and other counts for sex acts with the girl three years ago in Charlotte County and Sarasota, according to State Attorney Amira Fox.

Debenedetta will also have to serve five years’ of sex offender probation after being released from prison and must register as a sex offender.

The victim told police that Debenedetta would call her into her office during classes at the now-closed Haven Dance in North Port to kiss her on the mouth and touch her breasts and vagina after taking the girl’s clothes off, WZVN reports.

A parent of another student at the dance studio said she was shocked to receive an email in January that the school would be closing immediately.

“I never would have thought in a million years that’s why they would close Haven Dance down,” parent Michelle Lippert told the station. “I was shocked. My daughter loves her. I would have never looked at her and thought she was capable of something like that.”

Police said Debenedetta also met up with the girl for trysts at her home in Port Charlotte, where the teen’s father interrupted one meeting and found the instructor, as well as a phone she and the girl used to swap messages, WZVN reports.

“There were no words for it at the time,” Lippert said when she learned details of Debenedetta’s arrest. “I was literally in shock.”


Message from Executive Director Laura A. Ahearn: Please visit our website at www.crimevictimscenter.org for news, information and resources in your community.

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