Dance teacher charged with lewd and lascivious behavior on minor

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- A North Port dance teacher is charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a minor, and the dance studio she taught at has shut down.

Lauren DeBenedetta, 38, was taken into custody at the Sarasota County Jail.  DeBenedetta is the Artistic Director and Founder of Haven Dance in North Port.

Signs are posted on the dance studio doors saying "Haven Dance is now closed."

The studio's owner, Tom Fields, sent an email to Haven Dance parents saying "It is with a heavy heart that I announce that Haven dance studio will be closed immediately."

Amanda Rassett's three-year-old daughter started there in August.  "She loved it. We both looked forward to Fridays," she said.

Rassett said she just saw DeBenedetta there last Friday. "She was bubbly, teaching a class right next door to our class," she said.

When Rassett found out about DeBenedetta's arrest, and that she was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a minor, she was shocked.  "Oh, I'm terrified. I'm terrified. I think it was so many things that ran through my head, like is this real? Exactly what happened? Was this a student at the facility where my daughter attends every week?" Rassett said.

With the dance studio doors closed for good, parents are left wondering if the place they trusted to be safe for their kids to learn could have put them in danger.

"Obviously we have a lot of questions," Rassett said.

Four in Your Corner reached out to Haven Dance and stopped at DeBenedetta's home for her side of the story, but no one was home.

We also contacted the Charlotte County Sheriff's office for more information about the warrants, but that information was not yet available.

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