Ohio Dance teacher who admitted to raping students sentenced to 15 years in prison

Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 10:44 PM EDT
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CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - A Cuyahoga County dance teacher who confessed to sexually assaulting his former students will spend the next 15 years of his life in jail.

19 Investigator Kelly Kennedy broke this story back in 2020 and helped bring the teacher’s crimes to light before he was even charged.

It was the courage of one young woman, Cassie Cotter, that led to all of this.

Her bravery in sharing her story with 19 News led to dozens of other women speaking out and ultimately to Beasley’s arrest in September 2021.

“I oftentimes think of the young girl that I was,” said Cotter. “The young girls and women that all of us victims were every day. I see them in the face of my 11-year-old sister when her eyes light up when talking about the new dance she learned in class.”

Cassie Cotter, 23, was just 10 years old when she started taking dance lessons from Desmond Beasley.

“I remember when I was that little girl, the pure love and passion I held,” Cotter recalled. “I imagine the sparkle she holds in her eyes must’ve been similar to the one I held before my innocence was taken from me.”

Cotter didn’t know it then but that was the beginning of a life-changing experience.

“I barely knew the meaning of self-worth when my abuse began,” she said. “It started off as typical grooming behavior, his ability to gain not only my trust, but the trust of my parents.”

Cotter told the court that she and the other victims have to carry a life sentence of pain because of what their dance teacher did to them.

She believed it is only fair that Beasley serves a life sentence.

“He forced me onto the bed, and he held me down, against my will while touching me as I begged him to stop. Please stop, this is wrong. I don’t feel right. I begged and I pleaded, and while being held down against my will the only words I heard were, ‘Shhh Cassie, it’s okay. I do this with all my friends.’”

Eventually, Cotter realized she wasn’t alone and when she shared her story on 19 News in 2020, more victims started filing reports with local police departments.

In 2013, prosecutors say Beasley sexually assaulted a 16-year-old student multiple times and videotaped it. He posted it on social media and even sold the videos online.

Beasley attempted to apologize in court.

“The hardest thing in my life was looking in the mirror when your publicized when you’re exposed like a vein and you have to look at yourself and say ‘yes, this is who I am,’” Beasley admitted. “This is a problem and where do we go from here.”

Cotter also read the statement from a victim who believed she may have been Beasley’s first victim in 2013.

In turn, blaming herself for not speaking up sooner.

“If I had just understood that it was wrong earlier and told someone about it, showed them the texts, the Snapchats, and the pictures and videos maybe these other women wouldn’t be going through everything they’re going through now,” an emotional Cotter read in court from another victim.

The only person to blame is Desmond Beasley, who used his position of power to prey on the girls who looked up to him.

“Almost every single one of my friends had endured the exact same abuse that I did,” Cotter said. “Not only at my studio, but almost every studio that he taught at across Northeast Ohio.”

Beasley was ordered to pay more than $14,000 in restitution to another one of his victims who actually tried to take her life.

That money will cover her medical bills.

“I just wanted to give the reminder that this predator has upwards of 50 or more victims that he has grossly impacted regardless if he is being prosecuted for those crimes or not,” Cotter pointed out in court.

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