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Dance instructor to the stars arrested as suspected sexual predator

Updated August 20, 2020 - 4:55 pm

A renowned Las Vegas Valley dance instructor who has worked with Britney Spears, Madonna and other high-profile artists has been arrested in North Las Vegas as a suspected serial sexual predator.

North Las Vegas police said in a statement that they arrested 45-year-old Jesse Lee Santos on Wednesday after he was accused of sexual assault, lewdness with a minor, sexual conduct between a school employee and a student, child abuse and intentional transmission of HIV. Police said there may be additional unidentified victims in the case and urged them to come forward.

“Santos is a well-known dancer and owner of JLS Entertainment, Inc., which operates around the valley,” the statement said. “He has worked with several well-known artists, including Britney Spears, Mandy Moore, Pink, Madonna, and Jessica Simpson, and has performed on multiple award shows.”

According to a recently released arrest report from the North Las Vegas Police Department, Santos worked as a high school dance teacher as well. One of his former students went to the Metropolitan Police Department to report that he’d been sexually assaulted by Santos while he was in high school.

“Jesse groomed aspiring dancers both at the high school and outside of school through his company JLS Entertainment,” the report said. “Jesse recruited students and gave them employment through his company, which often resulted in his students competing in dance competitions out of state.”

The student told police that he’d usually stay at Santos’ house the night before out-of-state competitions so they could carpool to the airport for early flights, the report said. But 10 to 15 times that he stayed at Santos’ house between the ages of 15 and 17, the student said, Santos sexually assaulted him.

He said the first few times he woke up to Santos touching his groin area, then it advanced to the teacher performing sex acts on him, the report said.

“He stated Jesse told him those acts would cease if he spent the night with him in his bed, which he did, but the unwanted sexual acts did not stop,” the report said. “Despite these acts being unwanted, (the student) continued to spend the night at Jesse’s residence.”

The student told police he was sexually assaulted five or six times in hotel rooms while they were out of state for competitions. He said the other states included Kentucky, Florida, Maryland, Georgia and California, and police believe there may be victims in those states as well.

He told police that he didn’t tell anyone sooner because Santos “always told him he could black list him to keep him from dancing again, thus ruining his dream,” the report said.

North Las Vegas police served a search warrant at Santos’ home on Wednesday, and he was taken into custody without incident. He denied the allegations.

Santos is being held at the North Las Vegas Community Correctional Center and is expected in court Monday.

Anyone with information may contact North Las Vegas police at 702-633-1773 or Detective Jorge Correa at correaj@cityofnorthlasvegas.com.

Contact Alexis Ford at aford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0335. Follow @alexisdford on Twitter.

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