A judge sentenced a former Henrico dance instructor to 16 years in prison for having sex with his underage dancers and possessing child porn.
The judge went above the sentencing guidelines, which call for 11 years, in sentencing Andrew DeFiesta. DeFiesta must register as a sex offender and cannot have any contact with minors upon his release.
The 34-year-old pleaded guilty to 16 charges of indecent liberties with children and child pornography, while making an Alford plea for two other charges which means he doesn't admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence to convict him.
"I'm happy with 16 years. I wanted it to be more. I wanted him to be locked away for the rest of his life," said one of his former students Brittany Kerfoot.
DeFiesta's victims were 15, 16 and 17 years old. Prosecutors say the first victim started having sex with DeFiesta in 2004 when she was 16 years old and he was an instructor at the Latin Ballet Dance Academy. She didn't tell police until she was an adult.
By that time, DeFiesta was at the Regency Dance Academy in Henrico. Prosecutors say four more victims soon came forward; the youngest was 15 years old. They say he had sex with the girls in his car and at the studio when he was supposed to be giving them private dance lessons. Prosecutors say one victim refused his advances and hid in a room after he grabbed her.
Michelle Marx was an instructor with Defiesta and says she walked in on him having sex with one of the students at the dance studio.
"I was in complete shock. Some things had lead up to that to make me think some inappropriate things were going on," she said.
During the sentence hearing, several therapists testified Defiesta has benefited from treatment while in custody. They say he still needs ongoing care.
The judge ordered Defiesta register as a sex offender, stay away from minors via phone, text messages, and social media and to have no contact with the witnesses in this case.
"Hopefully will eliminate this from happening to any other girl," Marx added.
Defiesta told the court he is a different man now than he was when he committed these crimes. He said he believes people should be punished for their actions but added he feels he's already being punished by being separated from his own children.
There were also new details about the child porn charges - prosecutors say there were photos on DeFiesta's phone and computer of children performing sex acts.
Along with being a dance instructor, DeFiesta was also in the Army and served two tours in Iraq.
Thursday, July 24 2014 8:05 PM EDT2014-07-25 00:05:21 GMT
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