Charges dropped against Seminole dance instructor accused of molesting girl

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Only Eyewitness News discovered a former Seminole County dance teacher will be walking away from charges he molested a girl he was supposed to be teaching.

When Jonathan Prater was arrested, Seminole County deputies told Channel 9 there could have been many more victims because of his access to dozens of children at studios in Orange and Seminole counties, but they never found any.

Channel 9's Kenneth Craig broke the story in October and has stayed in touch with investigators and prosecutors, which is how he discovered they recently decided not to file criminal charges because they didn't think they could win if the case went to trial.

The State Attorney's Office told Channel 9 when it came down to it, they had nothing except the victim's original story, and that just wasn't enough.

"This is extremely troubling. This man was an authority figure to these children," said Seminole County Sheriff's spokeswoman Kim Cannaday in October.

Court records show Prater lost his jobs and moved back in with his mother as prosecutors met with detectives and re-interviewed the 14-year-old victim.

"These are difficult cases to prove. It's a he said, she said," said WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer.

The State Attorney's Office said there was no physical evidence, no witnesses and Prater didn't have a criminal history, which is why they decided not to file charges.

"Unless you have other evidence supporting the alleged the victim's statements or other individuals come forward and say something happened to them, very difficult to successfully prosecute," said Sheaffer.

Craig pulled conviction rates and found the 18th Judicial Circuit, which includes Seminole County, has been highly successful at securing convictions in sex crimes with the highest rate in the state right now at 96 percent.

That office told us if they took the teacher's case to court, they most likely would have lost it.

The sheriff's office did say they're standing by their investigations and still want to hear from any other potential victims if they're out there.