Liza May

The Luis Scandal

Oh Facebook how I love thee! What you have done for the world, for us!

On a global scale, increased government transparency.

And on a smaller scale, in communities like ours, citizen advocacy.

In our West Coast Swing community Facebook is the social-media platform of choice. How helpful in the coordination of events! Fostering friendships! Solidifying us as a family by bringing us closer together across continents.****

And for allowing us to convey important information about each other quickly and efficiently.

In other words, helping us to gossip.

Which has a bad name. But which appears to be not only an ancient feature of human behavior, but a necessary and useful one as well.***

Hence ….

The Luis Story

At first only whispered about behind the scenes, the story blew up in public last Wednesday when an anonymous writer made a post on Facebook calling for action, only obliquely referring to names and details.

There was an instantaneous explosion.

Many voices: shock, outrage, who is this person?, hang him!, forgive him, ban him!, protect the victims!, protect the accused from false allegations!, protect your children!, boycott events that hire him!

Voices from young people in the community. And from now-adults who grew up in the community. And from victims of sexual abuse.

And then from Scott Lindbergh. The father of the 17-year-old girl who is the victim of the incident referred to in the original post.

The perpetrator was named:

Luis Crespo.

You can find Scott’s full response copied below.

Emotional tangents exploded out in all directions:

  • The role of Event Directors in preventing or policing inappropriate/illegal behavior at their events
  • The role of parents and custodians for young people in our community
  • Pop culture and the sexualization of young people in general and within our dance (costume choices, makeup, music, types of movements)
  • How to include and integrate young people in our world of:

~ Dark ballrooms and hotel corridors

~ Social dancing

~ Late-nite dancing

~ Competitions

~ Jack and Jills with strangers

~ Travel and hotel living

  • Sexualized movement in our dance – Is it art? Cheap thrills? Gimmickry? Creativity? Pandering to crowd response?
  • Whether Facebook is the proper forum for such a discussion
  • Public hangings, witch hunts, mob psychology, innocent until proven guilty, the dangers of false allegations

The Facebook thread in its entirety can be found here. As I write this, five days after the original post appeared, comments are still coming fast and strong, with much emotion.

Here is my opinion. In the midst of many others:

  • ~~ Don’t hire Luis. I certainly wouldn’t at my studio, not at my event, not at my dances. I wouldn’t let him near my daughters. Anyone’s daughters. Of any age.
  • ~~ It’s hard wiring. Sexual predators don’t change – science points that way over and over again. They do not change, not through drug treatment, talk therapy, spiritual counselling, or surgery. They always return. For these men sexual predation feels as necessary to life as eating or breathing. The urge was wired into the package at the moment of conception, like a talent for baseball, a fondness for cilantro, or an inability to smell bitter almond. The compulsion is there, whispering in their ear with hot breath, from the day they’re born till the day they die.
  • ~~ Luis’ “response” on Facebook was disingenuous. Crafting a statement to include every “hot button” - family, religion, love of dance, being a changed man – as an attempt to get sympathy and forgiveness – is not only wholly inappropriate, it’s morally wrong. Moreover, it shows that this man neither has nor understands remorse.
  • ~~ What Luis should have said – and should say now, promptly – is:

“What I have done is inexcusable. I have hurt many people, for many, many years. My deepest apologies to the victims of my actions. To my students, friends, family, to the dance community, to everyone who has been affected by my behavior – I am sorry. I am removing myself from the community because I don’t want to hurt anyone else. And because my continued presence would reflect poorly on the west coast swing community. I hope to get help with my problems. I am very sorry. Goodbye.”

**Scott Lindbergh’s Post

(the “pro” referred to is Luis Crespo; the “thread” referred to is the “Westie Discussion of the Day” Facebook page found here.

“I am the father of a 17-year old daughter who experienced direct harassment from an over-40 year old “pro” in the WCS community. I’ve been following the thread with obvious personal interest, and I’ve noticed many are asking for details. I will give the details of our experience for two reasons: 1. To answer some of the questions that have been posed, and 2. To put the truth, where my daughter is concerned, out there in an attempt to diminish any speculation that might damage her reputation.

“My daughter was contacted via FB by an over-40 year old “pro.” The contact was initially based on a lie stating they had met and danced at the 5280 event. It was later discovered this pro was neither invited nor present at 5280.

“This began initially as a benign texting relationship where the pro strongly urged my daughter to take lessons from him and dance with him. Furthermore, he offered to provide these services for free. The appropriateness of the texting rather quickly changed to a somewhat inappropriate nature, and even though they were questionable in nature, my daughter erred on the side of trusting this man because of his reputation in the community as a “pro.” Her mistake was thinking “Surely he must not mean that.” My daughter was uncomfortable with the nature of some of the texts, and so stopped replying and ceased all communication.

“All of this was in his apparent anticipation of his attending the RM5 event in Colorado. At that event, she and I were present, as was this “pro.” During a brief interaction with him, I mentioned that my daughter was 17. He later asked her to dance, at which time, he placed his hand down the back of my daughter’s pants (however not deep enough to feel anything private). As reported by my daughter, he stated “It wants to go further…will you let it?” My daughter said “Stop it,” and they did not dance again. They didn’t dance because my daughter was made to feel so uncomfortable and she avoided the ballroom altogether after that. Later the same evening, this “pro” resumed texting my daughter, but this time, the texts included urgings and attempted coercing to come to his room where he stated he was “not wearing underwear…come see,” along with “Are you going to let me have you?” (I have copies of these original texts and MANY more). As a concerned father with many friends watching out for my girl, I was made aware of the situation. My daughter was forthcoming, open and honest with me, however, she was hesitant because she was afraid if what would happen to “him“ if he got in trouble. After all, he is a “pro” in a position of power. She was afraid of fall-out, possible retaliation, damage to her reputation and a sense of responsibility for being the cause of trouble. With only a portion of the incriminating information in hand, the event director made the bold decision to terminate his contract on the spot. I addressed the situation immediately with the “pro” along with other witnesses. In response, he lowered his head and sheepishly admitted to the wrongdoing.

“Later, I went to the proper authorities with all of the evidence (including many, many inappropriate texts), and “apparently” because my daughter is 17, there was no “legal” violation except the touching which was a “he said/she said” situation, and he did not admit to that. Whether this is “legal” or not, is it right? Should an over-40 year old dancer in a position of “authority” (pro) due to a reputation earned on a platform provided by the WCS community be allowed to pressure, make sexual advancements and attempt to coerce a 17-year old girl?

“Following our experience, I have learned of others that have come forward confidentially to say they had their own disturbing stories, two of which included illegal sexual contact (one who I spoke to directly). Those victims (and they were, and continue to be, victimized) were young at the time, and fearful to come forward, therefore, no legal action was taken.

“Now, you have a few of the details/facts of what I know, you have choices:

Right, Wrong, Legal, Illegal?? Do you have a daughter who is looking up to a teacher, coach, instructor? Have you ever looked up to someone and trusted them because of who they are? Society puts people in a position of power (right or wrong…Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, etc.) Decide what you will do. There’s a quote: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke). Event Directors, Students, Partners: Do you want to turn the other way if there is a predator dancing, teaching, performing and prospering within the west coast swing community? You’ll decide for yourself the action you will take, however, as a father, when I know the safety of others is in jeopardy, I am willing to step forward and speak out.

“Although the authorities in Colorado appear to say this man’s actions are not illegal, to me, it’s obvious that these actions of an over-40 year old man toward a 17-year old girl are inappropriate and unacceptable. Therefore, we cannot only rely on legal protection. We will be forced to protect our own within the WCS community.

“I’m hopeful this post will result in action, but not to victimize my daughter any further. It’s time for her to have this behind her. She is ready to feel safe again and wants to rejoin the dance community without this over her head.


***On Gossip:

Robin Dunbar(British anthropologist, evolutionary psychologist, and specialist in primate behaviour) is one of the key researchers interested in gossip.

Dunbar’s study, “The Virtues of Gossip,” (published in The Journal of Personalty and Social Psychology) found that gossip can play the role of protecting others from being exploited by passing on information about bad behavior to warn others.

“If you tell people that this person is a selfish jerk, people learn to avoid the exploitive jerk,” says Matthew Feinberg, a postdoctoral student at Stanford University and a co-author of the study.

“We sometimes need to trade information with third parties about people who aren’t around in order to learn from other people’s experiences.”Dunbar consistently found that gossip accounts for nearly 65 percent of speaking time, with little variation due to age or gender.

In a follow-up study Dunbar and colleagues grouped gossip conversations into four categories:

  • Keeping track of other individuals in one’s social network;
  • Bragging about oneself as a romantic partner, friend or ally;
  • Seeking advice;
  • Condemning slackers, free loaders, and other cheaters

He found that the first two gossip types above dominated all conversations between humans.

This suggests that the exchange of social information – gossip – may be one of the primary functions of language.

“Language evolved for social purposes, not spreading technical information like whether it will rain or how to get from New York City to Washington, D.C.,” he says. “Knowledge of the social world has a much deeper purpose. It’s not just the fact that I saw Jimmy kiss Penelope - but how that incident relates to me and the group.”

From New York Times article, “Gossip Isn’t Just Loose Talk”

****On Facebook And The Internets

I get a little breathless and jittery excited with my love of Facebook, YouTube, and the internets.

For anyone who loves a library the internet is The Library of All Libraries. The great Library In The Sky. Google in my hand or on my eye-glasses, every moment searchable, makes me drunk with ideas and imagination.

But wait! There’s more!

The internet has led to the Great Democratization of the world. The democratization of information.

And global connectivity.

The West Coast Swing family talking with each other at any time of the day or night. Between an airplane seven miles above the Pacific Ocean and a small dance studio in Portugal.

How can you not get breathless about that?

The printing press brought about the end of the Middle Ages and made possible the Reformation, Renaissance, and the Scientific Revolution.

The Internet will have profound effects on our era – effects we can only begin to dimly imagine.

“The future of the information age will be dominated by unintended consequences.

“The Protestant Reformation and the shift from an earth-centered to a sun-centered universe were unintended consequences in the printing press era. We are already seeing unintended consequences in the information age that are dominating intended ones and there are good reasons to expect more in the future.

“The important effects of the printing press era were not seen clearly for more than 100 years. It could be decades before the winners and losers of the information age are apparent.

“Societies who regulated the printing press suffered and continue to suffer today in comparison with those who didn’t.”

(from “The Information Age and the Printing Press: Looking Backward to See Ahead”)

In Other News:

We have an international west coast swing flash-mob about to happen!

Let your communities, dance teachers, and event directors know!

Saturday, September 6 at 5PM (17:00) France time, and then again at at 6PM EDT

And, of course, there is a Facebook page for it!

Right here!

I love Facebook.

Filed Under: Community

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