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Dance Studio Instructor Mark Chavarria Arrested For Alleged Sexual Assault

Mark Anthony Chavarria, Anaheim Dance Studio Instructor, Charged With 18 Counts of Alleged Sexual Assault of Young Girls

child sexual abuse

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA (May 5, 2023) –  An Anaheim dance instructor identified as Mark Chavarria has been charged with 18 counts of sexual assault involving 6 young girls. 

Orange County prosecutors are saying that Mark Chavarria was arrested on Tuesday. He is facing 15 counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14, two counts of oral copulation with a minor victim and one count of sexual penetration by foreign object of an underage victim. 

All of these counts are felonies. The underage victims, who are 12 and 14, are saying that the sexual assaults took place at the Chavarria Institute of the Arts dance studio. This is a business owned by the defendant. 

The Anaheim police sergeant said that the department believes the assaults took place at or near the defendant’s facility. An investigation began after girls came forward and said that they were assaulted. 

They identified numerous victims for the police and said that they believe the assaults took place over a period of years. Mark Chavarria has been in the dance industry for many years and has operated studios across Southern California and the Phoenix Metro area.

He is currently being held on a $5,000,000 bail. Orange County Crime Stoppers is currently accepting anonymous tips at 855- TIP-OCCs. A full investigation remains ongoing at this time. 

Liability For Orange County Childhood Sexual Assaults

The dance industry has been plagued by an unusually high number of sexual assault claims. According to one report by the Associated Press, dancing alumni from the Los Angeles-based Break The Floor Productions bred a culture of sex and silence. One teen from Toronto said that an instructor propositioned her for sex just hours after a 2012 Break the Floor Convention. There are a number of reasons why sexual misconduct and grooming can be common in the dance industry.

  • Part of the problem is that dancers are consistently taught not to question those in roles of authority.
  • The dance industry has a rigid hierarchy as well as job scarcity. This is a prime environment for predators to thrive in. 
  • Dancers are highly ambitious and in many situations are more vulnerable to being taken advantage of by those who promise to help advance their careers. 
  • Perpetrators often have access to private spaces such as dressing rooms and backstage areas. 

It is a crime in California for any adult to have a sexual relationship with a minor. Children cannot give informed consent to sexual activities. It is particularly egregious when teachers or instructors sexually abuse students because they are assuming roles of authority. Those roles of power often get abused by men who promise young girls roles in movies or plays. The abuse often goes on unchecked because other adults including instructors turn a blind eye to what is happening. There are many statutes that a person would likely violate by having sex with a minor in California.

  • Pursuant to California Penal Code 288, it is a crime for a person to commit any lewd or lascivious act on a child under 16 years of age. This includes touching a child’s body for sexual purposes. It is not necessary for the touching to be on bare skin. 
  • According to California Penal Code 287, it is a felony to perform oral copulation with a minor under 16 years of age.
  • As outlined in California Penal Code 289, any person who commits an act of sexual penetration with a foreign object when it is accomplished by force, violence, duress, menace or fear shall be punished by imprisonment in a state prison. 

Depending on the facts of any case, someone who sexually assaults a child could face criminal and civil liability for their actions. Businesses are liable for the tortious actions of their employees. This is also true if the person performing the assaults happens to be the owner of the business. Under the California Child Victims Act, any person that is sexually abused as a child may pursue a civil claim or criminal claim before they turn 40. There are a number of steps that a person should strongly consider if they have been the victims of sexual abuse. 

  • Victims of sexual abuse should speak with police and let them know what happened. This also helps ensure that evidence will be preserved. 
  • Surveillance footage that may be relevant should be examined. 
  • Potential eye witnesses should be interviewed. 
  • An experienced California child sex abuse lawyer should be consulted. 

Childhood sexual abuse is one of the most horrific and traumatic things that most people will ever go through in their lives. It can adversely affect a child’s progress in school and leave them with long term psychological and physical injuries. Sadly, though, businesses and their insurance providers will often do everything in their power to deny responsibility for any instance of sexual abuse. This is one of the reasons it is so important that all evidence is properly preserved after any incident. 

Investigating Anaheim Childhood Sexual Abuse Cases

We at Carrillo Law Firm, LLP extend our thoughts and prayers to all of the children and their families who may have been harmed at the Chavarria Institute of the Arts dance studio. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what happened. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent similar incidents. The dance industry needs to recognize that sexual abuse within their ranks is unacceptable. Far too often, ambitious and vulnerable girls and young women are being preyed upon by men who think that they can do whatever they want and get away with it. 

Have you or someone that you care about been the victim of childhood sexual abuse in Orange County? There are a number of laws designed to protect your rights. Our team of highly experienced and compassionate childhood sexual abuse attorneys are here for you. We care deeply that abuse victims are aware of their rights and that those rights are being protected. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support we may be able to help you. You can reach out to us anytime at 626-799-9375.

Author

MICHAEL S. CARRILLO, Partner

Michael works on high-profile cases that have garnered national media attention. His practice today focuses on child sexual abuse cases, police misconduct cases, catastrophic injuries and other wrongful death matters. He is a passionate advocate for his clients including the countless child sexual abuse victims he currently represents.