Former dance instructor convicted of sexual assault

Sarah White

A former dance instructor with UT’s Informal Classes was recently convicted of sexually assaulting two of his former students and was sentenced to two years in jail and six years probation.

Prosecuting attorney Mark Pryor said the 44-year-old dance instructor, Stacey Aldridge, took three Austin minors back to his apartment where he sexually assaulted two of them after buying them drinks at several night clubs on April 3, 2010. The two victims were 17 years old at the time of the assaults and had brought with them a 15-year-old friend who Aldridge also attempted to assault. Aldridge was convicted on Monday Jan. 23 and will serve out his two sentences simultaneously.

Pryor said Aldridge had taught one of the 17-year-old victims when she was younger and reconnected with her before the incident.

“He befriended [her] when she was 16,” Pryor said. “He bombarded her with Facebook messages that we thought were highly inappropriate.”

Pryor said Aldridge had also been tried by a jury on Oct. 26 and was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in her mid-twenties in 2006, who took dance classes from Aldridge at the Dance Zone, formerly located off 24th and Guadalupe streets.

Eric Roach, spokesman for the department of Continuing and Innovative Education, said Aldridge taught dance classes at UT through the Informal Classes program, but was not a regular benefitted employee. Informal Classes reviews and approves non-credit courses suggested by instructors and offers them to UT students and the Austin community. Roach said Aldridge worked as a dance instructor until the allegations against him were made.

“He worked for us until allegations were made against him at which point he was suspended,” Roach said. “He is no longer employed because his actions amounted to a breach of his contract, and we made a decision to suspend him.”

Elizabeth Walter, UT alumna and owner of the Dance Zone where Aldridge taught classes, said the allegations were a shock to her and to his students at the Dance Zone. Walter said the West Campus location of the Dance Zone, which closed in July, served many UT students as well as professionals of all ages. Aldridge taught a few hours a week at the Dance Zone from 2003 to 2010, Walter said.

“He quit teaching before the story broke and I first became aware of the accusations,” Walter said. “After the allegations came out I asked some of my regular students if they had seen or experienced any unsavory behavior, but they were all shocked and in disbelief.”

Walter said she first found out about the assaults from the media, but wished someone would have approached her about the incidents first.

“As a UT alum myself I know that lots of scary things [happen] on college campuses and I have tried to do my part to help women protect themselves” Walter said. “I would like to express my sincerest apologies to everyone involved in this tragedy. It pains me that it was in anyway associated with my business.”

Printed on Friday, February 3, 2012 as: Dance coach convicted