Attorney for accusers in school sex abuse case planning to sue CMSD, former dance teacher

Attorney for accusers in school sex abuse case planning to sue CMSD, former dance teacher
Cleveland Metropolitan School District

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - 19 News investigators have confirmed a local attorney is planning to file a federal lawsuit against the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and its embattled former dance teacher, Terence Greene.

We uncovered several documented allegations of sexual abuse made against Greene, 54, in the last two decades, while he taught dance at the Cleveland School of the Arts and Cuyahoga Community College.

Attorney Ryan Fisher says several more accusers have come forward since 19 News first broke the story last Thursday.

He says the lawsuit he plans to file in federal court accuses the school district of violating Title XI, which protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance.

19 News has reached out to C.M.S.D. for comment about the lawsuit but has not heard back from the district.

Greene, 54, is charged with sexual battery, a third-degree felony, after “multiple victims,” including former students, reported incidents to police.

At last check, Greene is not in police custody. It’s been five days since police issued the warrant for his arrest.

From the schools to police, we investigated what some believe are systemic breakdowns that allowed these alleged abuses, if true, to keep happening.

“It should have stopped with me,” said Nate, who asked that we do not use his last name. “Now, it is 18 years later after my first first situation and he’s still doing it.”

Nate was just 14 years old when he says Greene, who was his dance teacher at the Cleveland School of the Arts, began sexually abusing him in 2002.

“It was normalized for me,” said Nate. “It was very normalized for me.”

After Nate went to police in 2003, Greene was arrested and charged with four felony counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

Greene, then in his late 30s, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Records obtained by 19 News show Nate gave investigators detailed accounts of his alleged abuse, sharing intimate details about Greene’s body and describing his teacher’s bedding.

Despite that testimony, Green was acquitted in 2004, but not by a 12 person jury.

Greene waived his right to a jury trial and chose to have a judge decide the case.

“It’s very disheartening because, like, we didn’t get him the first time,” said Nate.

Nate says the "first time" because he wouldn't be the only student to come forward with allegations about the dance teacher.

We found multiple complaints have been made against Greene since 2003, ranging from sexual misconduct to rape. None of those accusations ever led to any arrests or charges until the sexual battery charge that was filed last week.

After his acquittal in 2004, Greene went back to teach at the School of the Arts.

New allegations that came out in 2014 lead Greene to resign from his position at the School of the Arts.

In Sept. 2014, he filled out a school district form stating he was resigning for “personal reasons.”

The school district says prior to Greene submitting the resignation notice, he was informed that his contract for the 2014-2015 school year was rescinded.

One year later, Greene was hired to work with students again at Cuyahoga Community College, where he taught dance to “pre-college” kids ages 3 to 18.

Records show Greene abruptly left Tri-C this past January after new allegations were made by a 17-year-old high school senior.

The teen told police he was sexually assaulted by Greene at the dance teacher’s Garfield Heights home after dance practice last fall.

A representative for Tri-C says Greene was allowed to resign from his job as Program Manager of the Dance Academy in lieu of termination. He was told not to return to campus or have any contact with students.

Records show Tri-C continued to pay Greene and provide benefits through April 2020.

“Schools have a reputation for ‘passing the trash,’ allowing an employee to leave in their district so they don’t have to deal with the problem, only to move to another school environment,” said Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services.

The Cleveland-based national consulting firm specializes in school security and emergency preparedness issues and works with preK-12 schools to help improve student safety.

Trump says allowing employees to resign instead of firing them, especially if there appear to be multiple red flags, is a dangerous practice that could put children in harm’s way.

“[It] really puts kids at risk,” Trump said. “Not only one kid but multiple kids over time, and it makes it harder for the problem to be detected and stopped along the way because it opens up holes for more opportunities, incidents to slide through the cracks.”

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