A well-known Zumba instructor and former Fayette County school employee pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he had sexual contact with a 13-year-old boy.And this:
Jason Thompson, 31, was arraigned on charges of first-degree sexual abuse and second-degree sodomy for allegedly performing oral sex on the boy and fondling him in a separate incident, according to court documents. The incidents occurred in 2009, the documents said.
Thompson has not been arrested. He smiled as he walked into the courthouse with his attorney, Jerry Wright, but appeared expressionless throughout the hearing.
Thompson did not speak to reporters outside the courtroom. Wright declined to comment while the case is ongoing.
Thompson worked for the school system from 2006 until he resigned at the end of the 2010-11 school year. He last worked at Leestown Middle School, where he was a special education instructional assistant and coached the school's dance team.
[Fayette schools Superintendent Tom] Shelton said that in June 2011 the Leestown principal received "second-hand information" alleging "inappropriate contact" between Thompson and an unnamed minor who was not a student. Later that month, the principal, following state law and school district policy, reported the matter to the Fayette Schools Central Office and to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Shelton said.And this:
Shelton said district officials then called Thompson in to discuss the allegations. At that point Thompson resigned, and the school system reported the case to the state Education Professional Standards Board, Shelton said.
"In August of 2011, after Mr. Thompson had left us, we received a second allegation, and we followed the same steps in reporting to the state cabinet and the professional standards board," Shelton said. "We have been cooperating with law enforcement since then." ...
According to information posted on various Web sites, Jason Thompson is a certified instructor of Zumba, a dance-fitness program inspired by Latin dance music.
Thompson has appeared in a Zumba game video, can be seen dancing in some Zumba videos on YouTube, and has traveled internationally to participate in Zumba master classes. He taught in Japan in December and has appeared since then at classes in Washington state, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Florida. Online, he has been called an "internationally renowned Zumba Fitness instructor" and one of "Zumba's elite instructors."
Cathya Beard, a Lexington-based Zumba teacher, said Wednesday that Thompson also once taught hip-hop at a Lexington athletic club. He has become widely known as a Zumba teacher during the past few years, she said. Beard said she had been getting text messages about the case from other Zumba instructors in the area.
"He definitely is well-known in the Zumba world," Beard said of Thompson. "We all kind of know who he is, especially for the achievement he's gotten over the past year or so with Zumba."
Beard said she had considered Thompson to be "a good person" and was shocked to hear about the charges.
"I knew him and have had some conversations with him," she said. "I have mixed emotions about the whole thing; when you know someone it makes a difference. I just pray that the truth will come out." ...