Former owner of Omaha dance studio faces child sex charges
Judge orders Nick Murphy to quit Arizona football coaching job while awaiting trial; FBI looking for victims in Omaha
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A former owner of a dance studio in Omaha pleaded not guilty to federal child sex charges Wednesday inside the federal courthouse in downtown Omaha.
Nicholas Murphy, 43, co-owned the Dance Authority dance studio with his wife from 2012-2022. Agents with the Omaha FBI worry there may be more female victims. The defendant sold the business in the last year and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, with his family.
A federal judge ordered Murphy to quit his job as a football coach at an Arizona high school while he awaits trial since he is not to have contact with any minors.
“Earlier this evening we learned that one of our volunteer freshman football coaches has been indicted in the state of Nebraska,” a spokesperson for the Scottsdale Unified School District said in a Wednesday night message to families and staff at the high school Murphy worked at. “We want you to know that this person cleared a background check and had level one fingerprint clearance prior to being permitted to volunteer with our program. Upon learning of these out-of-state legal proceedings, he will no longer be volunteering with our program or anywhere in our district.”
The allegation is serious: He’s accused of traveling and transporting a female younger than age 18 from Omaha to Tucson, Ariz., with the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with her in October 2021. A conviction on that charge carries prison time ranging from 10 years to life.
In a 6 News exclusive video, he’s seen with his attorney as they left the federal courthouse in downtown Omaha on Wednesday afternoon.
After a lengthy hearing Wednesday afternoon to determine whether he should be detained, the judge released Murphy to his parents, who live in Arizona. He’ll have an ankle monitor and was ordered to have no contact with minors — which is why he has to quit his high school coaching.
Investigators also said Murphy can’t talk about the case and must have supervision when seeing his children in Arizona. The government specified his 14-year-old stepdaughter especially since she knows the victim and may be a witness in the case.
More than a dozen parents were in the courtroom Wednesday, some of them wearing white ribbons. 6 News was told they were to honor the victim and her friends and other young dancers.
There was also a lot of anger in and outside the courtroom. One of the fathers was overheard describing Murphy as “a dirtbag.” Many of the parents stared down the suspect as he left court -- questioning why he’s not being detained.
Judge Bazis ordered the defendant to surrender his passport but allowed him to continue working in Arizona and travel to conferences on the West Coast for his job — as long as he lets pre-trial services know about it. Murphy told the court that he was a software sales executive and a real estate agent recruiter.
6 News asked Murphy for a comment, but he declined.
CAN YOU HELP?
FBI Omaha said investigators are looking for any victims who attended the Dance Authority, a dance studio located in Sarpy County near 180th & Harrison, from 2011 to the present. They said Murphy was the co-owner of the dance studio from 2012 to 2022.
Anyone with information about this ongoing investigation or who thinks their child may have been victimized by Murphy is asked to report it online at fbi.gov/nicholasmurphy or call the FBI Omaha field office at 402-493-8688.
“The FBI is legally mandated to identify victims of federal crimes it investigates. Victims may be eligible for certain services, restitution, and rights under federal and/or state law,” the FBI Omaha release states.
The Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office is assisting in the investigation.
Digital Director Gina Dvorak and Executive Producer Ben Burke contributed to this report.
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