A renowned Las Vegas dance instructor who has worked with everyone from Britney Spears to Madonna and Pink has been arrested as a suspected serial sexual predator — and allegedly knew he had HIV when he assaulted a teen, authorities said Friday.
North Las Vegas police said in a statement that Jesse Lee Santos, 45, was arrested there Wednesday on charges including sexual assault, lewdness with a minor, sexual conduct between a school employee and student, child abuse and intentional transmission of HIV.
The victim, one of Santos’ former students who is now in his early 20s, told police he was sexually assaulted by the dance teacher while still in high school, according to an arrest report obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“Jesse groomed aspiring dancers both at the high school and outside of school through his company JLS Entertainment,” the arrest report said. “Jesse recruited students and gave them employment through his company, which often resulted in students competing in dance competitions out of state.”
The student — who attended Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas, police told The Post — told detectives that Santos sexually assaulted him between 2015 and 2017 when he was between 15 and 17 years old, the Las Vegas Sun reports.
The student alleged that Santos abused him 10 to 15 times during the two-year period as the victim stayed at Santos’ North Las Vegas home the night before trips, the Sun said.
The victim said Santos also sexually assaulted him several times in hotel rooms as they traveled out of state for competitions, according to the arrest report.
Police said Santos has traveled to several states for dance competitions, including Kentucky, Florida, Maryland, Georgia and California. Investigators believe there may be other victims in those jurisdictions who have yet to come forward, police said.
Santos, who was taken into custody without incident, denied the accusations, the Review-Journal said.
The victim said he hadn’t come forth with the allegations sooner because Santos told him he could “blacklist him” and keep him from ever dancing again, according to the arrest report.
“[The victim] said he did not want to tell his mother or anybody else what was happening because she had invested a lot of time and money, and because it was embarrassing,” police wrote in the report.
It’s unclear if Santos has hired a lawyer, the Las Vegas Sun said.
Santos remained held without bond Friday at the North Las Vegas Community Correctional Center. He is expected in court Monday, jail records show.
Since launching his career in 1999, Santos has toured worldwide with stars, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has also made appearances at the Grammy Music Awards alongside Madonna and Alicia Keys and has worked on 25 music video productions, including Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West” and Spears’ “Crazy,” the profile shows.
“I also branched out to the big screen and can be seen in ‘Austin Powers 3’ with Mike Meyers, ‘The Hot Chic’ with Rob Schneider, ‘Honey’ with Jessica Alba, and ‘Malibu’s Most Wanted’ with Jamie Kennedy,” Santos’ profile reads.
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