North Port dance instructor accused of sexually touching teen student

Lauren Debenedetta

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Called the “artistic director” and founder of “Haven Dance” in North Port, instructor Lauren Debenedetta, 38, is accused of having sexual contact with a 15-year-old, female student.

The encounters, according to investigators, happened at the dance studio office and at the teen’s home.

A parent of a former student is in disbelief.havendanceclosed

“I thought she was fine. I had no idea, I’m shocked. I really am” said Brittney, who didn’t want to give her last name.

Owner Ted Fields, Lauren’s husband, sent this email: “It is with a heavy heart that I announce that Haven Dance studio will be closed immediately.”

When News Channel 8 went to Debenedetta’s home, it did not look like anyone was there.

According to documents, it started when the victim was home sick and Debenedetta brought her soup.

Documents say the two ended up naked.

When the teen’s step father came home, Debenedetta allegedly hid next to the victim’s bed.

Documents also show, the instructor called the victim out of class to touch her inappropriately, and that Debenedetta knew she was 15-years-old.

Now, Facebook is lighting up, with posts like, “I’m shocked” and “hope she rots.”

A grandmother News Channel 8 spoke to outside the studio, is not shocked.

“You’re finding teachers happening all across in different situations. And I think it’s disgusting. ..I feel bad for the families” said Lisa Johnson.

The arrest paperwork also talks about a cell phone Debenedetta bought for the victim so the two could exchange messages.

Debenedetta is free on bond, charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery.

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