CLEVELAND — Parents trusted him to teach and care for their children, and now, a former Cuyahoga County dance teacher is accused of raping and sexually assaulting some of his former students.
Desmond Beasley, 35, was indicted on 41 counts relating to those crimes Tuesday.
They include 9 counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, eight counts of illegal use of minor in nudity-oriented material or performance, nine counts of gross sexual imposition, eight counts of rape, four counts of sexual battery, one count of attempted rape, and two counts of pandering sexually-oriented matter involving a minor.
“Beasley is a serial sexual predator who preyed on students from his dance studios. He will now pay the price for his actions,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley.
Prosecutors said Beasley used a social media platform and text messages to send sexually explicit photos and chats to minors, all of which were his former dance students.
They said he also used his photography career to lure the accusers into taking inappropriate photos. Some of those photos were taken while the accusers were minors.
Prosecutors said Beasley also allegedly sexually assaulted three of the accusers, two of which were minors at the time.
“You don't expect those people to be the ones that prey on the same people that are their students and their mentees,” said Jennifer King, an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor.
The first accuser to come forward told Garfield Heights police in 2019.
The accuser said Beasley was her dance teacher at a studio in Parma, and that he sent her inappropriate messages through texts and social media for several years. She said he also used his side photography gig to lure her into taking inappropriate photos. Then, she said he sexually assaulted her in 2017.
Her allegations empowered at least four other accusers to tell their stories too. Additional police reports were filed in Garfield Heights, Parma, Berea, and Athens.
All of those accounts were detailed in a 19-page indictment filed by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.
“That takes a lot of guts because they think that they're the only one, and then we find out that they're not, and that there's a whole group of victims who have been through something similar,” said King.
King said the alleged sexual assaults and inappropriate behavior took place between 2013 and 2017. Investigators also found child pornography in Beasley’s email account in February 2021.
King said Beasley is the same man who made headlines back in 2019 when a friend reported him missing after he didn’t turn up for a photography gig at LeBron James’ I Promise School. He resurfaced a few days later.
In regards to the current case, Beasley is not yet in custody.
“We don't believe that he is in Cuyahoga County, but we do have the U.S. Marshals on it. We do have a general idea of where we think he is, and hopefully he'll be apprehended very soon,” said King.
King said besides the five accusers on record, more are out there.
She’s urging parents everywhere to keep an eye on their kids’ phones.
“Monitor your children, social media, know who they're hanging out with. When a 27-year-old man asks your 14-year-old to go out to take photos, that should send up red flags. Listen to your gut. Follow those red flags.”
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.