BREAKING NEWS: Shane Sparks Pleads No Contest To Rape & Molestation Charges prior to going to Trial today, Aug. 16, 2011.
UPDATE 8.16.11 | SHANE SPARKS SENTENCED: Shane Sparks was to stand trial today, August 16, 2011 but instead “plead no contest to 1 count of unlawful sex with a minor, which is a felony,” according to L.A. District Attorney spokesperson, Jane Robison. Sparks was sentenced to 270 days in jail and has 1 year to complete that sentence. He was also ordered to serve 5 years of formal probation and ordered to complete 52 sessions of sex offender counseling. Sparks is not allowed to be alone with a female minor for the 5 year probationary period and must be accompanied by an adult in the presence of a female minor. Sparks was not ordered to register as a sex offender.
Shane Sparks To Stand Trial August 16, 2011. In what has undoubtedly been a shock to the dance world, two well-known teachers and choreographers will stand trial in the coming months in Los Angeles courtrooms on charges of rape and child molestation. Hip Hop star Shane Sparks, a familiar face on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew,” was arrested on December 18 of last year at his North Hollywood apartment on six counts of a lewd act upon a child and two counts of oral copulation of a person under 16. The accuser, who was under 14 at the time, is identified in court documents only by first name and last initial. The alleged crimes occurred between July 1, 1994 and April 30, 1997. Sparks is currently free on bail. If convicted on all charges, Sparks could face 14 years and eight months in prison. Sparks’ pre-trial conference was held today, August 9, 2011 at the Van Nuys, CA Courthouse. His trial date is set to begin on August 16, 2011.
According to the felony complaint for arrest warrant in the case, although the statute of limitations had expired, due to the facts that the accuser was a minor at the time of the alleged offense, a criminal complaint was filed within one year of the report, and “the violation, as alleged, involved substantial sexual conduct, namely, sexual intercourse and oral copulation; and there is clear and convincing corroborations including, but not limited to, defendant’s statements.” Because the case is still pending, Sparks’ attorney, Leonard B. Levine, was unable to comment except to say his client maintains his innocence and that they are still looking into the allegations.
Alex Da Silva, a salsa instructor and choreographer who was also a frequent presence on “So You Think You Can Dance,” was arrested in 2009 on four charges of sexual assault that allegedly occurred between August 2002 and March 28, 2009. Unlike the Sparks case, the Da Silva case involves multiple victims, all of whom were students of his at the time. The LAPD also said that in addition to the accusers named in the case, also identified in court documents only by first name and last initial, several women with similar allegations came forward who for personal reasons did not wish to make formal complaints against Da Silva.
The accusers said Da Silva lured them into his home and then to his bedroom, where the alleged crimes took place. Each charge carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. If convicted of all eight charges he currently faces, which include forcible rape and sexual penetration with a foreign object, Da Silva faces a possible maximum sentence of 90 years to life with the possibility of parole. Da Silva was being tried earlier this year, but in April his attorney had a personal emergency and a mistrial was declared. The new trial is scheduled to begin on August 24. Da Silva is currently being held in the Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail on $2 million bail. Attempts to reach Da Silva’s attorney were unsuccessful.
“Since both cases are near trial, we cannot discuss the evidence,” said Sandi Gibbons, a representative for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, in an email to Dance Track. “But we do not file cases unless we believe that based upon the evidence, we can prove the case in court beyond a reasonable doubt.”
by Gina McGalliard
Photo of Shane Sparks (David Gabber / PR Photos)