CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A local dance teacher previously charged with sex crimes involving a 14-year-old student is now under criminal investigation after police say “multiple victims” have come forward with stories of sexual abuse.
PART 1 Below:
19 Investigates first reported this story Thursday at 6 p.m. 19 News Investigators uncovered years of complaints against Terence Greene, 54, of Garfield Heights, ranging from sexual misconduct to rape.
We spent weeks digging deeper into the possible system failures that kept Greene around children for years.
Instead of being fired, we found Greene was allowed to resign from two teaching positions after students accused him of sexual abuse.
And that’s not all we discovered.
In at least one occasion, Green was then hired elsewhere, putting him in a position to teach more and more vulnerable young people.
“I knew I had to make a report for anything to move forward,” says Neemo Spencer, one of several former students involved in an active criminal investigation into Greene.
Spencer’s allegations, recently reported to police in both Cleveland and Euclid, stem from an incident he says happened more than 10 years ago when Greene was his teacher at the Cleveland School of the Arts.
According to Greene’s website, he taught dance at CSA, his alma mater, for 17 years.
In 2003, records show a 14-year-old boy went to police and told them he had multiple sexual encounters with Greene, who he said was his dance instructor at CSA.
The teen reported having multiple sexual encounters with Greene over several months in 2002, both at Greene’s home and while attending a dance camp in Dayton.
Greene was arrested and indicted by a grand jury on four felony counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges and the case went to trial in 2004.
The teen provided investigators with detailed accounts of his alleged abuse, sharing intimate details about Greene’s body and even describing the dance instructor’s bedding.
Despite that testimony, a judge found Greene not guilty during a bench trial.
Following his acquittal, Spencer says CMSD hired the dance teacher back.
“That’s how I ended up meeting him my 7th grade year,” said Spencer, who is now 29.
After two years of training under Greene at CSA, Spencer says his dance teacher invited to his home in 2008 to work a routine.
He says once at Greene’s house, his teacher touched him in appropriately and asked him sexual questions.
“I was uncomfortable at that time,” said Spencer. “I had heard what he was capable of, but this was my first time experiencing it first-hand and I was completely uncomfortable.”
Years would go by before Spencer would report his allegations to authorities.
In 2011, records show a man went to Cleveland Police and told them Greene began raping him at 7-years-old. According to a police report, the man said Greene was his relative and had been sexually abusing him over several years. The report states the victim told police Greene threatened to kill him if he told anybody.
PART 2 below:
Records obtained by 19 News show prosecutors declined to file charges against Greene in that case but don’t explain why.
Three years later, another explicit complaint made by a CMSD student sparked yet another police investigation into Greene.
In July 2014, a former CSA student reached out to a CMSD staff member on Facebook, claiming he was “victimized” by Greene when he was in the 9th grade.
Spencer, who graduated in 2010, says school administrators contacted him in 2014 and told him they were doing an internal investigation into Greene’s conduct.
That’s when he decided to report his 2008 encounter at Greene’s home.
“I finally spoke out,” said Spencer. “That was my first time actually speaking with someone of authority about it.”
Despite several accusers coming forward in 2014, Greene was not criminally charged.
Prosecutors determined there was “insufficient evidence,” according to records.
According to CMSD, Greene was not an employee of the school district.
Instead, a spokesperson told 19 News he was a “consultant assigned to the Cleveland School of the Arts.”
CMSD says it does not keep personnel files on consultants, however, the school district provided us with this resignation form signed by Greene after the 2014 investigation, stating he was leaving for “personal reasons.”
The school district says prior to Greene’s resignation, he was informed that his contract for the 2014-2015 school year was rescinded.
“At that time I didn’t know that even if he resigned, that he would still be able to get hired in,” said Spencer, referring to the teaching job Greene was able to secure after leaving CMSD.
19 Investigates discovered one year after leaving the School of the Arts, Greene was hired to work with students again - this time teaching dance to pre-college students ages 3 to 18 through Cuyahoga Community College’s Creative Arts Academy. According to Tri-C’s website, dance classes are taught at places like recreation centers and community schools around Cleveland.
When Greene applied for a job at Tri-C in 2015, a background check did not reveal the 2003 criminal case against him.
However, it did raise a red flag, stating Greene “had allegations with students” during his time at CSA.
Greene was hired by Tri-C in October 2015 and was eventually promoted to program manager of the Dance Academy, getting national attention for his work with dance students.
In 2019, he was interviewed for a feature story on that aired on CBS This Morning.
“Is there something about the teacher-student relationship when there is an art at the center of it that makes it that much closer?” CBS News reporter Adriana Diaz asked Greene in 2019.
“Most definitely. Because for us it’s our choice of weapon,” Greene replied.
Despite his accolades, records show Greene abruptly resigned from Tri-C in January 2020.
Tri-C told 19 News the resignation came after campus police were informed of a report of sexual misconduct with a minor involving Greene.
According to police records, a 17-year-old high school senior told officers he was sexually assaulted by Greene after dance practice last fall.
The teen told police Greene was giving him a ride home when his dance teacher told him “he needed to teach him a gospel routine for an upcoming show.”
He said Greene offered to teach him the routine at his studio inside his Garfield Heights home.
Once inside Greene’s home, the teen says Greene sexually assaulted him in the basement and then told the him “not to tell anyone.”
Though 12 years apart, there are similarities in the stories the 17-year-old and Spencer gave police.
“He invited me over to his house to work on the music,” Spencer told 19 News.
When the high school senior reported the alleged sexual assault to Tri-C in January, the school allowed Greene to resign in lieu of termination.
In a written statement, a representative for Tri-C told 19 News, “The student subsequently declined to proceed with the case. Tri-C took the step to remove Mr. Greene based on his presence with the student after hours but settled for his resignation since there was no longer a cooperating complainant.”
That’s what Spencer says broke a dam that had been holding himself and others back from sharing their own experiences with Greene.
“There were still a lot of people biting their tongues, but this time a lot of people came forward,” said Spencer.
At least three former CMSD students, including Spencer, are listed as victims in a case that the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office just referred to Cleveland Police in late June.
On Thursday, Greene was charged with one count of sexual battery and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
According to the warrant, Greene performed oral sex on a student in a dressing room at the School of the Arts in 2008.
The warrant also states, “multiple victims have come forward with extremely similar incidents that happened to them.”
Nobody came to the door when we went to Greene’s home in Garfield Heights on Thursday to ask him about the allegations. We also reached out to him by phone and he did not return our calls.
“The most disturbing part is that it’s still happening and nothing has been done about it,” said Spencer.
Spencer and the others who came forward are hoping the renewed interest in their cases may help put an end to an alleged abuse of children’s trust since he says administrators clearly haven’t been successful in that.
“I feel hurt that he’s able to resign without him being fired, because now that allows him to go to another state, another place and still do the same damage that he’s been doing for 20 years,” Spencer said.
So what ever happened after that 2014 investigation that lead to Greene leaving Cleveland School of the Arts?
19 Investigates uncovered alarming reports that show how a Cleveland police detective may have dropped the ball in at least one of the cases that could have put Greene in jail years ago.
Coming up in a special report on Monday on 19 News at 11 p.m., we will share our unsettling findings into that police investigation, along with what a local school safety expert says schools continue to do that could be putting your children at risk and how you can protect them.
If you or a child you know is experience sexual abuse, you can contact the 24 hour Child Abuse Hotline at (216) 696-KIDS (5437) or Protecting-Cuyahoga-Kids@jfs.ohio.gov.