A longtime North County dance instructor pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges he molested four teenage girls about 15 years ago.
David Mandujano Silvas, 39, was arraigned in Vista High Court on nine counts of felony sexual abuse, including allegations that he molested a drunk girl and twice forced another girl to perform oral sex at Encinitas Secondary School.
The judge set Silvas’ bail at $100,000. Jail records showed he remained in custody Thursday night.
“He vehemently denies the allegations,” defense attorney Isaac Bloomberg said by phone Thursday. “I personally look forward to getting a police report to start our investigation and clear him.”
Sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Ralph said in the news that sheriff’s investigators were informed of the allegations in July 2020, when a 30-year-old woman reported that her former dance instructor had raped her since she was 12 years old. Sexual assault continued until she was 17 years old. release.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Child Abuse Unit launched an investigation and identified three other alleged victims, girls aged between 13 and 16 at the time of the alleged abuse.
According to the criminal complaint, the alleged crimes took place between 2005 and 2007. The lawsuit says at least two crimes occurred at Silvas’ home and at least two at Encinitas Middle School.
A spokesman for the San Digito Union High School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Silva’s connection to the school.
Sheriff’s detectives arrested Silvas at his Vista home on Tuesday. Deputy District Attorney Peter Estes said he argued at Thursday’s arraignment that Silvas remains a threat to the community and should remain in custody without bail.
In a phone interview, Estes said his bail argument was based on the number of victims and “other, more recent information” from Silva’s contacts with “adults and teens” at a local dance studio.
“As far as we know, he has been working in a dance studio for the past 15 years,” Estes said, asking any other victims or potential witnesses to contact the sheriff’s department.
According to owner Lisa Esposito, Silva recently worked at the Evolution Dance Centre in Carlsbad but was placed on “indefinite leave” following her arrest this week.
“We remain appalled by this incident,” Esposito said in a statement, noting that the alleged crime occurred “before our studio opened to the public 12 years ago.”
A spokesman for Evolution Dance said sheriff investigators, who had been investigating the case for nearly two years, had been in touch “just a few weeks ago” about a potential complaint against Silva. But the spokesman said investigators provided few details and Esposito only learned the details of the allegations after Silva was arrested.
The sheriff’s deputy Ralph confirmed in an email that an investigator “inquired about any complaints Evolution Dance received” and “did not report any complaints,” but he did not say when the investigation took place. He added that “when investigators determine to exercise caution based on the facts of the case,” investigators contact people close to the suspect.
Any other victims or anyone with information about Silvas is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Child Abuse Unit at (858) 285-6293 or the San Diego County Crime Stoppers’ anonymous whistleblower hotline at (888) 580-8477.