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Vista Youth Dance Instructor Pleads Not Guilty to Child Molestation Charges


Sheriff's vehicle
A San Diego Sheriff’s vehicle. Photo by Alexander Nguyen

A man who worked as a youth dance instructor in northern San Diego County and is accused of sexually assaulting underage students over several years pleaded not guilty Thursday to nine felony counts.

David Mandujano Silvas, 39, was arrested at his Vista home on Tuesday on suspicion of molesting four victims, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Silvas’ alleged crimes came to light in July 2020, when a 30-year-old woman reported that he had molested her repeatedly while serving as her dance instructor, beginning when she was 12 years old and continuing until she was 17, Lt. Kevin Ralph said.

The woman said the crimes occurred at various locations, including the former Callahan Institute of the Arts, an Encinitas dance studio that closed several years ago, Ralph said.

While investigating the allegations, detectives identified and located three more alleged victims, who were between the ages of 13 and 16 at the time of the purported crimes. The women reported that the alleged assaults occurred at dance studios, competitions, and house parties in the San Diego area and Los Angeles County between 2005 and 2014.

The criminal complaint filed against Silvas alleges some of the incidents occurred at the defendant’s home.

Silvas, who’s being held on $100,000 bail, faces a maximum of 15 years in state prison based on the current charges, according to Deputy District Attorney Peter Estes.

Child abuse detectives investigating the alleged crimes believe there are additional victims and possible witnesses who have not come forward, Ralph said.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the San Diego County Sheriff’s Child Abuse Unit at 858-285-6293.

— City News Service


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