Former Delavan dance teacher sentenced in sexual assault case

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Jonah Beleckis | December 16, 2016

ELKHORN—An accomplished international dancer was sentenced Thursday in Walworth County Court to 10 years in prison for the sexual assaults of two of his Delavan Dance Factory students.

Ariel Cisneros, 48, pleaded guilty Aug. 15 to repeated sexual assault of a child while a second charge of first-degree repeated sexual assault of a child was dismissed, read in and considered during sentencing. He was also sentenced to 10 years of extended supervision following his prison sentence.

Cisneros, who grew up in Cuba and was sexually assaulted at age 11 by people he knew, was convicted of inappropriately touching a 15-year-old girl during private dance lessons between Dec. 1, 2015, and April 10, 2016, according to court statements and the criminal complaint.

The second count stems from Cisneros having inappropriate sexual contact with a 10-year-old girl during a private lesson Jan. 16 after he punished her for talking in class and kept her out of the class for three weeks, the girl's mother said.

Cisneros faced a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Deputy District Attorney Haley Johnson did not have a specific recommendation, but asked for no more than 20 years. Defense Attorney Steve Compton asked for one year in jail and five to eight years of probation.

Cisneros was arrested at midnight April 29 at the Lake Geneva YMCA parking lot after Cisneros sent sexually lewd text messages to police who were using the 15-year-old girl's phone.

The victims' parents told the court Cisneros “destroyed lives."

People he has come to know through his work told the court Cisneros has a “good heart and a good soul.”

Judge Kristine Drettwan said it seemed there were two different people sitting in the defendant's chair Thursday morning.

As the father of the 15-year-old read the text messages Cisneros sent, he repeatedly looked at the defendant's half of the courtroom.

“This is the man with unquestionable character?” he said.

The four parents of the two girls all spoke in court.

Drettwan said she limited the sentence to 10 years in part because there was no sexual intercourse, but evidence such as the text messages indicates the touching could have become worse over time.

“Thank God you got arrested because I don't know how much farther this would have gone,” Drettwan said.

The mother of the 10-year-old said her daughter has resorted to self-harm and has suffered from panic attacks because of Cisneros' behavior. The mother of the 15-year-old said her daughter struggled to make friends and does not want to talk about what Cisneros did to her.

“I try to be an optimist, but this will never go away,” the 10-year-old's father said. “Her childhood has been stolen.”

“They're children. They should just enjoy their childhood,” Johnson said. “They shouldn't worry about sentencings and prison.”

Drettwan mentioned how the rest of the students at the Dance Factory could be affected. The owner, Tina Hansen, spoke after the victim's parents.

“This has gone through my school like a horrible virus,” she said.

Hansen said she feels tremendous guilt and has been physically ill since becoming aware of Cisneros' actions, but she said she would be able to get over all of that because she's an adult. She said she was more concerned for how the children will recover.

Cisneros repeatedly emphasized the importance of family to him and his love for his three children.

Cisneros had completed more than 500 hours of community service while in jail, Compton said.

“I want to contribute to society to the best way I can,” Cisneros said. “I will clean the street. I will feed the homeless. I will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to repay my debt to this society.”

“My life purpose is to help people, making people happier,” he said. “And I ended up doing exactly the opposite.”

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