Shocker! SYTYCD Choreographer Shane Sparks Busted for Child Molestation

Emmy-nominated dancer taken into custody for decade-old incident involving underage girl

By Josh Grossberg Dec 19, 2009 5:53 PMTags
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It's a routine no one could have imagined.

Shane Sparks, the award-winning hip-hop choreographer on Fox's So You Think You Can Dance and a judge on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew, was arrested early Friday in Los Angeles and charged with eight counts of felony child molestation.

Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Bruce Borihanh tells E! News that the 40-year-old hoofer, whose legal name is Melvin Sparks, was taken into custody by detectives at about 8 a.m. at his North Hollywood home on a felony warrant.

"Sparks has been the subject of an ongoing child-molestation investigation," Borihanh says. He was booked into Van Nuys jail and is being held in lieu of $590,000 bail.

The investigation centers on a decade-old incident involving a teenager.

Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, says a criminal complaint was filed by the alleged victim, whose full name they are withholding because she was a minor at the time.

"There's one victim, and it occurred in the '90s. I believe it started in '94 and went on for several years," Robison tells E! News. "It's an underage girl. She was under 15 when the alleged crimes occurred. She is an adult now and came forward to authorities."

According to the official criminal complaint, the felony charges filed today against Sparks include six counts of committing a lewd act upon a child 14 years old or younger, and two counts of oral copulation of a person under 16 for acts committed between 1995 and 1997.

If convicted, Sparks would have to provide a DNA sample and fingerprints for a national database of sex offenders, pursuant to California Penal Code Section 290.

The dance instructor's rep, Mona Loring, tells E! News, "As this is an active legal matter, we are refraining from comment at this time."

Sparks shot to fame as a cochoreographer on the 2004 movie You Got Served before joining SYTYCD.

His work on the Fox reality hit garnered him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Choreography, after which he was tapped to be a judge on MTV's dance-themed competition, America's Best Dance Crew, which just wrapped its fourth season.

Sparks is the second choreographer affiliated with SYTYCD to be arrested for sex crimes in recent months. Alex Da Silva, who specialized in the show's salsa, mambo and Argentine tango routines, was arrested in August on charges that he raped four of his dance students.

—Additional reporting by Breanne Heldman

(Originally published Dec. 18, 2009, at 1:32 p.m. PT)


Check out all the latest and greatest moves on last Wednesday's So You Think You Can Dance's finale here.