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Dance instructor accused of sexual abuse remains in jail

Posted at 10:15 PM, Jan 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-13 07:24:54-05

A dance instructor accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student was still behind bars Thursday night.

38-year-old Lauren Debendetta was arrested earlier this week, accused of having sex with a 15-year-old female student at her North Port dance studio.

Charlotte County investigators are working with North Port police on the case.  A spokesperson says the case is still on going and it's unclear if there are anymore victims.

"We hear a lot about stranger danger, but the reality is, it's usually someone in a close relationship to the child," said Jackie Stephens, CEO of the Children's Advocacy Center.

The CAC counsels victims of sexual abuse and their families.  Stephens isn't involved in the case out of North Port, but says generally speaking most abuse cases involve someone the victim knows.

"It could be a babysitter, a coach, it could be a teacher, a family member or friend."

Kids may show signs of sexual abuse, rather than talking about it.  Those signs include nightmares, exhibiting withdrawn behavior or depression.

"We have to pay attention to kids, because kids can't protect themselves, and that's the hard part about this, children are told to do what adults tell them."