TEMECULA, CA — A former Temecula Dance Company instructor is set to be sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty last month to three counts, including lewd acts with a minor.
Eric Eustacio Saradpon, 43, was convicted on April 22 of sodomy with a person under 18, and two counts of lewd acts with a child between the ages of 14 and 15 where the defendant is at least 10 years older, the court records show.
Saradpon worked at the Temecula Dance Company studio on Felix Valdez Avenue, according to Riverside County District Attorney’s Office spokesman John Hall.
Crimes “involving underage victims related to his work [as] a dance teacher [occurred] from 2007 to 2019 at Temecula Dance Company,” according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.
“As a dance instructor, Saradpon has been entrusted with the health, safety and emotional well-being of minors in the studio and at dance competitions across the country,” the statement continued. “Instead, he engaged in a pattern of grooming, seduction and aggression towards his victims.”
Saradpon was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on October 12, 2020 at the Temecula Dance Company’s Felix Valdez Avenue studio. As part of the investigation, deputies served a search warrant at a home in the 39000 block of Sundance Circle in Temecula.
“Several pieces of evidence were seized from the scene,” according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Within days of his arrest, Saradpon was released in lieu of $55,000 bond.
Lani Morel, founder and co-owner of Temecula Dance Company, said in an emailed statement that when company officials learned of Saradpon’s arrest and charges in October 2020, “her employment was immediately terminated.” .
Morel further stated that Saradpon’s crimes for which he was charged “did not take place at the Temecula Dance Company or any of the company’s sanctioned events. [Eric] had its own company, Formality Dance, which hosted the events in question.”
Morel said a background check was done on Saradpon before he was hired. Court records show the former instructor has no previous convictions in Riverside County.
“The safety and well-being of our dancers and our families [are] extremely important to us. Prior to hiring teachers or other staff, a background check is conducted,” Morel’s statement continued.
“All TDC classes are held at our studios during posted hours with full administrative staff on duty and many parents observing class. The classrooms all have large viewing windows and are regularly supervised throughout. sessions,” Morel said.
“Staff and dance instructors do not have keys to the studios. Only the owners and operations manager have access to the building when it is not open. All TDC-sanctioned events are attended by multiple members staff and parents. No staff member or parent is ever alone with underage students,” the statement continued.
“Since this incident, we have required students who attend dance events with our instructors outside of TDC-sanctioned events to disclose this information – so that all of our staff and teachers are aware of extracurricular dance activities and that parents can take the necessary precautions to keep their children safe.
“Along with many other members of our tight-knit community, we were deeply saddened to learn of the incidents at the Defendant’s Formality Dance events. We hope this outcome provides a solution for all victims and that they will continue to heal and thrive.” says Morel.
Saradpon’s 9 a.m. sentencing will be before Judge Timothy Freer of Department S301, Southwest Justice Center, 30755 Auld Road, Murrieta.