Monroe dance instructor receives nine-month sentence

Backman pleaded guilty to inappropriate contact with a teen in 2014

Kelly Sullivan

The Monroe dance instructor charged with inappropriately touching an underage student in November 2015 will be spending the next nine months in jail.

Kristopher Backman received his sentencing for third-degree child molestation from Snohomish County Superior Court Judge David Kurtz on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

Backman accepted an agreement with the prosecutor’s office on Aug. 3, where he pleaded guilty to a charge of third-degree child molestation in order to possibly receive a lower sentence that didn’t involve jail time. His trial had been set to start the following week, as he originally pleaded not guilty.

Third-degree child molestation is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

The 33-year-old was arrested at the Stanza Dance Studio on Lewis Street in July 2016, and he was charged with second-degree child molestation on July 20.

The victim's mother first went to the Monroe Police Department in late November 2015. Backman had touched her then 15-year-old when she was 14 three different times, according to a probable cause affidavit. Each incident happened when the two were in private lessons together.

Monroe detectives conducted a seven-month investigation prior to arresting Backman at the Monroe studio he opened with his wife back in 2010.

In a statement, the victim said Backman was helping her stretch each time he touched her. She described herself as “feeling paralyzed and having a racing heart,” according to the affidavit. She then acted as if nothing had happened; the lesson continued.

The third time the contact occurred, she asked Backman, “What are you doing?” and he “eventually got up and left.” She showed police a post she made on social media after the first incident.

The early December 2014 post read, “That ruined me,” according to the affidavit. Backman told police he rarely helped students stretch. He also said parents must sign a waiver at the studio that gives him permission to make “corrections.”

In his personal written statement in the August plea agreement, Backman admitted to having sexual contact with the victim on or around Dec. 10, 2014. No other instance was mentioned.

Monroe detectives discovered the Redmond Police Department had also investigated Backman in 2008. The previous victim's accusations detailed the instructor had first approached her in the same way. Inappropriate contact allegedly started during private lessons.

Her mother also reported the accusations when her daughter was 15, according to court documents. The alleged victim told police she had sex with Backman several times in his car while she was supposed to be in class. The girl also said she had had a crush on Backman.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office declined to press charges, as the alleged victim had denied sexual contact at the time. The alleged victim said she was willing to come forward to help with the new case when contacted by Monroe detectives.

During their investigation, Monroe detectives also contacted witnesses at Stanza. All were about the same age as the victim, between 11 and 16 years old, and attended classes around the same time.

No one else reported seeing or hearing of inappropriate touching; most said they had seen Backman engage in “inappropriate comments and conduct.”

The dance instructor was said to have played “Cards Against Humanity” when the students’ parents and his wife were not around, according to court documents. When someone walked in the room during a game, the kids were allegedly told to put the cards away.

Backman allegedly would often play sexually explicit cards during his turns, according to court documents. He would also allegedly bring up sexual subjects or make inappropriate comments to female students, including about his past drug use.

One student said she remembered him asking her about sex with her boyfriend and “if she liked to be on the top or the bottom,” according to court documents.  

File photo: Kristopher Backman was sentenced to nine months in jail for third-degree child molestation on Tuesday, Oct. 3. This photo is from his arraignment last year.


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