Instructor awaiting sentencing is restricted

THE BALTIMORE SUN

An Ellicott City ballet teacher convicted of sexually abusing one of his young students during private lessons cannot teach children while he is out on bond awaiting sentencing, a Howard Circuit judge said yesterday.

Judge Dennis M. Sweeney stopped short of revoking Jose Anibal Macedo's $10,000 bond and allowed the 42-year-old dance instructor to remain on home detention. Still, Sweeney said, he was concerned that Macedo was continuing to teach youths at his Baltimore National Pike dance studio.

"I really cannot justify continuing to have the defendant instructing minors," Sweeney said. He ordered Macedo to stop teaching students younger than 18 as of Monday, but also said he would consider any alternatives that Macedo's new lawyer may provide.

The judge said that although he had agreed to allow Macedo to remain free after his trial in July, he had not "fully" considered whether the conditions of release - which allowed Macedo to keep teaching as long as the lessons were supervised - were "adequate." It would not be "appropriate or wise" for Macedo to continue to instruct children given his convictions on attempted rape, child abuse and related sexual offenses, Sweeney said.

But Macedo, of the 1100 block of Taylor Ave. in Halethorpe, said he needed to keep working to support his family and pointed out that registration in his school, Advance Dance Academy, has decreased drastically in recent months. He keeps a log of each class, he said, and regularly checks in with a probation officer.

"I am trying to help [my family] as much as I can," he told Sweeney.

Yesterday's ruling came at the end of a brief hearing to decide questions of court dates and legal representation.

After his conviction this summer, Macedo fired his two Annapolis lawyers, William C. Mulford II and Gregory P. Robinson, and hired the law firm of Towson attorney Byron L. Warnken to represent him at his sentencing Oct. 16.

Macedo, who faces two separate sexual abuse prosecutions involving young students at his school, said he is looking for new lawyers to represent him in place of Mulford and Robinson in those cases. The cases were postponed yesterday, to Nov. 3 and Dec. 8, to give Macedo more time to hire a lawyer.

In court papers, Macedo and his two former lawyers said they parted ways because the dance instructor was "not satisfied" with the lawyers' "performance" at the first trial.

Warnken's firm is expected to argue at the start of next month's sentencing that Macedo should be granted a new trial because his fair trial rights were violated by a series of court- and jury-related actions.

Included in the list are concerns about jurors' behavior during a visit to the dance studio, Sweeney's decision to explain the law to the jury at the start of the trial, and a juror's post-trial letter explaining how her experience with sexual assault victims played into deliberations.

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