‘He is a monster’: Accuser of NEO dance teacher reacts to his arrest
CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - Desmond Beasley was someone parents trusted with their children for years, but authorities say he used his position of power to prey on young girls.
As of Tuesday, the former Northeast Ohio dance teacher is behind bars.
On Wednesday 19′s, Kelly Kennedy spoke with one of his alleged victims who shared her story publicly for the first time a year ago on 19 News.
22-year-old Cassie Cotter spent the first 18 years of her life as a dancer.
She ate, slept, and breathed it, but she has not been back in a dance studio since she says her former dance teacher sexually assaulted her.
“Unfortunately, it has not,” Cotter said. “I personally have not been able to get back into dance still.”
But now justice is so close for Cotter and the other alleged victims of 35-year-old Desmond Beasley, she can almost taste it.
“I’m hoping that maybe with some justice coming around the corner that maybe that’ll change here soon, but we’ll see,” Cotter said.
Cassie first met Beasley when she was 10 years old at Dance Dance Dance in Parma.
She says he started grooming her at a young age, and when she was just 14 years old, she received her first nude Snapchat from her dance instructor.
“Disgusted,” Cotter said of her reaction to the photo.
“This was a man that was almost twice my age. This was a man who was like a superior to me. I was in his classroom every week. I didn’t know how to think of it. My first reaction was to like, you know, maybe tell some of the girls at my dance studio but then I also thought to myself like, I was almost too embarrassed, you know to say anything to anybody about it.”
That shame kept Cotter quiet for many more years, but had she spoken to her classmates, she would have realized she wasn’t alone.
Beasley was eventually let go from several local dance studios when they learned of his alleged behavior.
So, he set his sights on photography. Cotter says that’s what led to him sexually assaulting her during her freshman year of college after that, Cotter dropped out of college and checked herself into a mental health facility.
“I honestly really shut down,” she explained.
“I didn’t want to accept what had happened. For the longest time, I was just blaming myself for allowing this to happen for so long.”
But then Cotter found her voice. Investigators said when she shared her story with 19 News, dozens of more accusers came forward.
“It wasn’t until I spoke to some of my other fellow dancers and found out that they were going through some of the same things with this same man that I realized that something wasn’t right, and I knew I had to put a stop to it,” Cotter said. “I knew I couldn’t let anybody else go through the same things I did.”
Beasley is facing dozens of criminal charges, including eight counts of rape, four counts of sexual battery, and one count of attempted rape.
Prosecutors say the incidents started back in September 2013 and happened as recently as February of this year.
19 News is told Beasley’s victims range in age from 13 to 18 years old and all of them were his former dance students. “To know that he’s finally behind bars, it gives me some type of peace of mind,” Cotter said. “It makes me feel like me, and the other victims are finally getting our voices heard.”
Cotter believes Beasley purposely chose a career as a dance instructor because it gave him access to young girls.
“He is a monster,” she said. “I mean, he’s a serial assailant. He has been doing this for so so long, and he knew how to keep going with it. He knew how to gain all of these young women’s trust so he could, in the end, commit these heinous acts. I think it’s pretty obvious that he chose these careers in order to hide himself and prey on these young vulnerable women.”
Cotter is in her final year at Ohio University, and next year she’ll move to Memphis, Tennessee, to teach mathematics. She says what happened to her made her want to go into education and make a difference.
Beasley will be arraigned Friday morning; stay with 19 News for all the updates on this case.
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