North Port dance instructor accused of molesting teen


NORTH PORT, Fla. — A 38-year-old woman was arrested Monday for molesting a 15-year-old girl, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office said.

Lauren Debenedetta, of the 4600 block of Manilla Avenue, is facing two counts of lewd and lascivious battery after being accused of performing sexual acts on one of the dancers she taught at Haven Dance Studio.

The victim’s stepfather found Debenedetta with the teen at the girl’s home. He said he stopped to check on the victim since she was home sick for the day, according to the affidavit.

She yelled at him to close the door, which he complied. He then left the home and called the victim’s mother.

When he returned home, he found Debenedetta sitting on the couch and ordered her to leave his house, the affidavit revealed.

The victim initially denied any involvement with Debenedetta, but later admitted they had ongoing sexual relations during the forensic interview.

The victim said Debenedetta contacted her on the day she was home sick and asked if she could come over. Debenedetta brought her soup and they went into the girl’s bedroom.

The two kissed and allegedly performed other sexual acts, the victim said in the affidavit.

Debenedetta was hiding next to the bed when the victim’s stepfather opened the door because she was naked, the victim said.

Several other incidents took place at dance class and Debenedetta’s home.

Haven Dance Studio shut down following Debenedetta’s arrest.

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