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Not guilty plea from Cuyahoga County dance teacher accused of raping former students

(Cassie Cotter)
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 7:45 AM EDT
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CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - A 35-year-old dance teacher who is accused of raping his former students pleaded not guilty Friday morning in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

“This man is truly I mean a predator and he should not be let out on the streets,” said sexual assault survivor Cassie Cotter.

Desmond Beasley is facing dozens of criminal charges, including eight counts of rape, four counts of sexual battery, and one count of attempted rape.

Beasley was not present in court, waiving his right to appear at arraignment.

“My client, although he is currently in the Cuyahoga County Jail, my understanding is that he is unavailable for a personal appearance this morning,” his lawyer, Robert Botnick, told Judge Dick Ambrose.

Judge Ambrose initially set Beasley’s bond at $250,000, but that was before Beasley’s former dance student and alleged victim spoke.

“Desmond Beasley was my dance teacher for about eight years of my life,” Cassie Cotter told a Cuyahoga County Judge Friday morning. “At the age of 10 is when he originally started grooming me. On the night of September 21st of 2017, he raped me. It took almost two years after that for me to speak out and tell my story. I’m scared if he is out that he will have the same opportunities to continue his gross ways and I just do not feel safe with this man outside prison.”

Cotter shared her story for the first time on 19 News more than a year ago. Authorities said after that dozens more women filed reports with local police departments.

After hearing from the state and Cotter, the judge doubled Beasley’s bond to $500,000.

“On the state’s behalf, I am baffled by the $250,000 bond,” said Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Jennifer King. “This is a 41 count indictment on a serial rapist. He has perpetrated young girls between the ages of 13 and 20 between 2013 and 2018.”

King had argued that Beasley is a flight risk. U.S. Marshals arrested Beasley on Tuesday in Bedford following a weeklong manhunt.

“He was first confronted with these allegations over two years ago,” King explained in court. “He fled and was declared a missing person and shortly thereafter moved out of the state of Ohio. When the US Marshals came to his residence in Arkansas he left. He was apprehended here in Cuyahoga County.”

Beasley’s defense attorney, Robert Bostick, argued that Beasley was planning on turning himself in but was apprehended before he could do so.

Conditions of Beasley’s release include no contact with the alleged victims, court supervised release and standard GPS monitoring. He also must submit for HIV and DNA testing.

The prosecutor says there were more than 20 victims in this case, but because of the statute of limitations, only six were included in the indictment. There is a no-contact order in place where Beasley cannot contact victims but since so many wouldn’t fall under that Cotter is relieved that Beasley likely won’t get out of jail before trial.

“You know just because of the statute of limitations they couldn’t nail him for every single charge but it’s truly the scope of this is so much bigger than anyone can imagine,” Cotter said.

Watch his arraignment in the video player below.

According to the prosecutor, there are six victims on the current indictment, all between the ages of 13 and 20.

Beasley is due back in court on Sept. 20 for a pretrial. Judge Kelly Ann Gallagher will preside.

If you have information about alleged crimes committed by Beasley, call your local police department or the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

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