A dance studio has closed in New York City after more than 30 years, after the owner, Steve nardi, was sued for allegedly using his company as a platform for child exploitation.
The studio closed its doors after the New York Department of Investigation, which investigates allegations of child exploitation, concluded the owner’s alleged abuse of young boys and girls did not constitute child abuse.
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement that “the facts are clear” that the owner “focuses his efforts on promoting his own brand, which has no relationship to his employees or customers.”
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the department received complaints from at least five men and one woman alleging that the studio was a brothel.
The department closed its investigation into nardi last month after a review of more than a year’s worth of records, according to the New Yorker.
Nardi told the New Yorkers that he had a “private investigator” who was investigating the allegations.
Nardo’s former dancers told the Times that they believed he was being investigated because of a lawsuit filed against him in 2016, which alleged he was abusing boys and forcing girls to perform in his company’s dance studio.
“They were scared to speak out because of what was going on in New Jersey, and they were scared because of the publicity,” one former dancer told the newspaper.
The dance studio opened in 1985 in the basement of the former Nardi Brothers studio, according a New York Daily News article.
In 2016, New Jersey officials launched an investigation after a woman filed a civil lawsuit against the studio, claiming that the “dancers” there had been subjected to sexual abuse and forced to perform nude in a ring.
The lawsuit also alleged that dancers had been made to perform for pay, which was then paid to them in cash, according the Daily News.
“Steve nardi was the owner of the New Jersey dance studio and had repeatedly solicited girls from New Jersey to perform and had paid them $100 for the performance,” the New Republic reported.
“Nardi Brothers’ New Jersey facility, Nardi Studios, was in fact a brothels-turned-sex-slavery-shelters.
The brothel was owned by Steve nardis family and operated like a ‘family farm,'” the lawsuit claimed.
“The brothel housed women and children who were either ‘taken’ or ‘trafficked’ into Nardi Bros brotheling facilities, which were operated by Nardi and his siblings.”
In 2018, New York officials began an investigation into Nardo.
In July 2018, Schneiderman’s office filed a complaint against Nardi.
A representative for the attorney general’s office declined to comment to Ars on Tuesday, but a spokesperson said that “all of the complaints, including those related to sexual assault, were reviewed and found not to be credible.”
Schneiderman has also sued several people associated with Nardi over the past two years.
In March 2018, the attorney was ordered to pay more than $500,000 in penalties to a former Nardo Brothers employee, according New York.