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North County dance instructor arrested, suspected of molesting 4 teenage girls

David Silvas is suspected of sexually assaulting former dance students between 2005 and 2014; all were between 12 and 17 years old at the time

Child abuse detectives on Tuesday, June 21, arrested a North County dance instructor suspected of sexually assaulting at least four teenage girls between 2005 and 2014, authorities said Wednesday, June 22.

File photo
(Siren)

Sheriff’s detectives arrested David Mandujano Silvas, 39, at his Vista home on suspicion of assault with intent to commit rape, sexual assault of a child under 14 years old and other felony sex crimes, according to Lt. Kevin Ralph of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s child abuse unit.

Jail records showed Silvas remained held in custody Wednesday, June 22, without bail at the Vista Detention Facility. He was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday, June 23.

It was not immediately clear if Silvas had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

The owner of a Carlsbad dance studio that employs Silvas said in a statement that she was “shocked” to learn about the allegations and that she placed Silvas on an “indefinite leave of absence.”

Sheriff’s investigators learned of the allegations in July 2020, when a 30-year-old woman went to the department’s North Coastal substation to report that her former dance instructor sexually assaulted her beginning when she was 12 years old, Ralph said in a news release.

She reported that the abuse continued until she was 17 years old and had occurred at several different locations, including the since-shuttered Callahan Institute of the Arts on El Camino Real in Encinitas, Ralph said.

Once detectives from the child abuse unit took over the investigation, they identified three more victims, all girls who were between 13 and 16 years old when the alleged abuse occurred, Ralph said. The investigators believe the assaults occurred between 2005 and 2014 “at dance studios, dance meets or competitions and house parties in San Diego and Los Angeles Counties.”

Investigators believe there are likely additional victims who have not yet been identified, as well as potential witnesses with whom they would like to speak, Ralph said.

Silvas works at Evolution Dance Center in Carlsbad, but was placed on indefinite leave this week, according to owner Lisa Esposito. In a Wednesday, June 22, email, Ralph said investigators previously contacted that studio and “no additional victims or witnesses were identified.”

A spokesperson for Evolution Dance said sheriff’s investigators reached out one time “just a few weeks ago” to ask if any complaints had been made against Silvas and didn’t provide specific detail about the allegations. The spokesperson said Esposito only learned about the specifics of the allegations after the Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest.

“We remain shocked by this incident,” Esposito said in a statement, pointing out that the alleged crimes occurred “before our studio opened its doors to the public 12 years ago.” Esposito said Evolution Dance “will stay focused in making the safety, security, and well-being of everyone in our programs our top priority.”

Any additional victims or anyone with information about Silvas was asked to call the child abuse unit at (858) 285-6293 or San Diego County Crime Stoppers’ anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.

Updates

11:13 a.m. June 23, 2022: This story was updated with information about Silvas’ employment and placement on a leave of absence.


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