Dance Coach's Molestation Case Headed to Retrial Following Hung Jury

Viktor Kabaniaev in a still frame from the 2012 dance documentary 'First Position.' The prolific ballet coach is accused of 14 counts related to sex crimes against minors. (Bess Kargman)

A sexual assault case against a renowned ballet coach is heading to retrial in an East Bay Court after the jury couldn't reach a decision following two days of deliberations.

Three of Viktor Kabaniaev’s ex-students testified against their former coach, who was arrested in January 2018 and charged with 14 counts involving sex crimes against minors.

One woman said he raped her for the first time when she was only 12 years old, and forced her to have sex with him dozens of times thereafter. The other two accused Kabaniaev of molesting them.

Among these people was a new, third alleged victim, who came forward publicly for the first time as the trial unfolded to give her testimony.

Additional witnesses for the prosecution also took the stand during the two-week trial in Martinez, including the father of the alleged rape victim.

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"My daughter was assaulted over a long period of time," the man said on the witness stand. He broke down a couple of times during his testimony.

Despite the government's case against the 56-year-old Kabaniaev, six of the 12 jurors remained unconvinced.

"My client is delighted that six jurors believed his version of the facts," said defense attorney Kenneth Wine in a phone interview. "He's ready to fight on."

The trial will now start over with a new jury.

"I am a bit disappointed with the jury's decision," said Miko Fogarty, a former student of Kabaniaev's who shared her testimony during the trial, alleging that Kabaniaev molested her when she was 13. "But I am still hopeful for the retrial."

Scott Alonso, a spokesman for the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, said his office expects a date for the retrial to be set next week.

"We are deeply concerned with the jury's outcome," Alonso said in a written statement. "The women that came forward, including a new, third victim on the record, demonstrated immense courage in speaking publicly about these horrible crimes. Sexual assault victims deserve justice in this case. We will proceed with a new trial."

Kabaniaev has been behind bars since his arrest nearly two years ago. If found guilty, he could face up to a life sentence. 

Listen to KQED's 28-minute audio documentary about the long and complex journey of one of Kabaniaev's alleged victims here

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