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Woman accused of sex with teen

A former dance school worker is accused of having sexual contact with a student after authorities see a tape her estranged husband made.

By SUZANNAH GONZALES

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 7, 2003


INVERNESS -- Stephen Finegan was suspicious.

In October he noticed his wife Kelly, 25 was spending "an exorbitant amount of time" with a 16-year-old boy she taught at the Debbie Cole School of Dance. Neighbors told Finegan the boy spent the night when he was away. His daughter said she was not allowed to talk about the boy mom was spending time with. She told her dad the boy slept in mommy and daddy's room.

Kelly Finegan denied dating the 16-year-old boy, both to her husband and to a detective from the Citrus County Sheriff's Office who interviewed her in December, according to a report.

"We're just friends," Stephen, 27 remembers her saying. "Really, really good" ones.

The couple separated and began divorce proceedings, but Finegan still suspected his now-estranged wife was involved in a sexual relationship with the boy. On Feb. 12, Finegan secretly installed video surveillance equipment without audio in the kitchen, garage, bedroom and living room.

He said he reviewed the tape the next day and it confirmed his suspicions.

After receiving the tape, sheriff's detectives arrested Kelly Finegan Feb. 28 and charged her with one count of unlawful sexual activity with certain minors. She was later released from the Citrus County jail after posting a $5,000 bond.

Kelly Finegan declined to comment Thursday. Her lawyer, Michael Blackstone, said "it's probably very unfortunate that the public will never know all the facts and circumstances surrounding this situation."

When asked to be more specific about the relevant details, Blackstone would not comment. "I'm not going to try this in the press," he said.

According to Stephen Finegan, the tape shows his estranged wife and the boy, whose name is not disclosed in court records, having sex in the master bedroom during the afternoon while the Finegans' children, ages 5 and 2, were in their rooms.

At one point, the tape showed the children banging on the master bedroom door, Stephen Finegan said. Kelly Finegan said something and the kids ran off.

Later, the 2-year-old boy got into bed with Kelly Finegan and the teenager, according to Stephen Finegan.

He said he taped his estranged wife because "that's the only way I could get proof."

Stephen removed the equipment and took the tape to his lawyer, who contacted the Sheriff's Office.

"I did it for the welfare of my kids," Stephen Finegan said.

At first, Kelly Finegan denied having sexual contact with the 16-year-old. Then, after being told about the video, changed her story, the report said.

She told detectives she had been involved in a sexual relationship with the 16-year-old since about November, according to the report. The report showed the teen said they had engaged in sexual activity 20 times or more.

The report said the last time she had sex with the the boy was two days before her arrest.

The relationship was first reported to the Sheriff's Office on Dec. 5 by the boy's mother, the report showed. At the time, both Kelly Finegan and the boy denied any sexual contact.

Kelly Finegan's bosses at the Debbie Cole School of Dance in Homosassa Springs happened to call her about a competition the next day, as she was being arrested. The Monday after her arrest, she resigned from the dance school, where for two years she helped teach several ballet and jazz classes to students ranging in age from 8 to 18.

The boy was one of 10 male students at the school. He was a "natural dancer" who just started in August, said Hal Cole, the studio's co-owner. "One of the best boys we had."

In the studio, the two were professional, according to Cole. "What they did outside of the studio, I have no idea," he said.

Just as he can't control what a teacher does outside of the studio, Cole said, "I can't control a mother having a birthday party," referring to last year's arrest of a student's mother who authorities accused of hosting a sexually inappropriate birthday party for her daughter and other girls from the dance school. The charges were later dropped.

After Kelly Finegan's arrest, Cole recalls Kelly saying, "I must leave. I must resign."

-- Suzannah Gonzales can be reached at 860-7312 or sgonzales@sptimes.com.

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