EVERETT — A Monroe dance instructor Wednesday was charged with child molestation after being accused of inappropriately touching a student during private lessons.
Kristopher Backman, 32, is scheduled to appear for arraignment Thursday afternoon in Snohomish County Superior Court. It’s not the first time he’s been investigated for alleged sexual misconduct with a student, court papers show.
A girl, now 16, brought allegations to Monroe police in November, accusing her then-instructor from the Monroe-based Stanza Performing Arts Co. of touching her inappropriately on three separate occasions while she was stretching. The first incident allegedly occurred in December 2014.
In an interview with police in February, Backman denied any inappropriate touching. He is described in court papers as co-owner of the studio. He studied at conservatories and danced for professional dance companies before becoming an instructor.
Police interviewed other dance students who took lessons at the studio. None reported inappropriate touching, but “almost all of them told detectives about other inappropriate comments and conduct” by the male instructor, court papers said.
They said he would make inappropriate comments or introduce sex-related topics when talking with girls ages 11 to 16. They also said he would play a game called “Cards Against Humanity” with girls when other instructors weren’t there. “Backman told them not to tell their parents about the game and he instructed them to quickly put the cards away if his wife ever entered the studio while they were playing,” court papers said.
In 2008, detectives from the Redmond Police Department conducted an investigation into allegations that in 2006 Backman had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, who had been one of his students at a different dance studio. The relationship came to light when the girl’s mother discovered journal entries that concerned her. The girl in that case reported that the instructor touched her inappropriately while she was stretching and that they had sex in parking lots when the girl was supposed to be in dance class.
The girl and Backman at the time denied anything inappropriate had occurred when questioned by the owner of a dance studio, court papers said.
King County prosecutors declined to pursue the 2008 case in part because the girl had previously denied any sexual contact with Backman, court papers said.
As part of the Monroe investigation, detectives reached the former dance student, who is now 24. She agreed to assist with the prosecution if asked to do so, saying she suspected there might be other victims.
Backman was arrested Tuesday. He was released on his personal recognizance Wednesday after a brief court hearing. A judge found there was probable cause for his arrest.
Under the conditions of his release, he is prohibited from having contact with minor children unless it occurs under supervision of an adult who is aware of the charge against him.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org