About one year ago, 39-year-old Julie Kay Werkheiser was indicted by a grand jury on two counts each of predatory sexual assault against a child and first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child after she allegedly abused two of her dance students. Now, Werkheiser has been found guilty after facing trial before a jury in Tioga County Court.
Werkheiser’s dance studio, Studio J Dance in the Village of Waverly, is where the alleged abuse of two students took place between 2004 and 2007, according to news reports. According to the District Attorney’s Office, the two children were under the age of 13 at the time. Werkheiser has not been sentenced yet, but is expected to face 10 years to life in state prison. All charges against her were felonies.
Allegations of abuse were reported to New York State Police in April of last year, which led to the investigation by Waverly police. Samantha Stone, Werkheiser’s domestic partner, was arrested on similar charges in August of 2011 after allegedly committing sex acts with a child at a Binghamton dance studio she operated, although police said the cases were not connected. Stone was found guilty of predatory sexual assault against a child.
Individuals who work in a career involving children such as teachers, coaches, and instructors are often accused of sex crimes against children. Some of the allegations are true, others are not. While there is no doubt people commit these types of crimes every day, it is also all too easy for someone to accuse another person of a crime he or she did not commit. As is indicated by the sentence Werkheiser is expected to face (up to life in prison), the punishment for these offenses is extremely harsh.
Even in Michigan, someone found guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (the most serious sex offense charge) may face life in prison in certain cases. Anyone who is under investigation or who has been arrested for child molestation, Internet sex crimes, rape, or any related offense must work with a highly skilled Michigan sex crimes attorney. There are legal options those accused should be made aware of, and every person’s legal rights must be protected. A solid, effective defense strategy can make all of the difference in the outcome of a case, and the punishment a person faces.