CLEVELAND — A former Solon band director has been sentenced to 3-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to charges connected to the sexual abuse of at least 10 female students over a decade.
A Cuyahoga County judge handed the sentence down Thursday afternoon after hearing victim impact statements from eight of Edward Kline’s former students. Court documents say Kline inappropriately touched the girls and forced some to touch him between 2003 and 2014. The victims were ages 12 to 18 years old.
“This is the case of a monster who made a career out of abusing children again and again and again,” said one victim.
Another added, “I always looked up to him as a role model, a friend and eventually even a colleague. And now all I can see is an abuser.”
Many of the women described Kline as “creepy” and recounted he would request female students complete special tasks for him in order to be with them alone. Older students would warn younger ones not to wear skirts or dresses for fear of being the object of the teacher’s attention.
“I cannot recall a single time we were alone together where he did not capitalize on the situation to abuse me,” a victim said.
The victim statements detailed lasting effects from the abuse. Some reported struggling to navigate healthy relationships or trust authority figures. Others said they suffered from depression and anxiety years after graduating from high school.
“At my lowest point, I called the suicide hotline. I had to withdraw from multiple classes to avoid flunking out,” one victim said of a breakdown during college.
Some of the women said they reported the abuse to Solon High School administrators in 2015 and lamented a lack of action. Kline resigned from the district in 2018, but he was not the subject of a legal investigation until summer 2020.
In January 2021, the former band director changed a not guilty plea to guilty on 11 counts of gross sexual imposition and 1 count of sexual imposition. A grand jury previously added a sexually violent predator specification to the charges.
In a statement read in the courtroom, Kline addressed his now adult victims with an apology.
“I only hope it helps the healing process by hearing me and seeing me, once again, simply state that none of you bore any responsibility. This was me, and me alone, that did this. And for that I am eternally sorry,” he said to conclude his remarks.
Judge Timothy McCormick said he hadn’t fully understood the scope and effects of Kline’s actions until he heard the eight victim impact statements Thursday. Despite the defense’s assertion that Kline had accepted responsibility, began intensive treatment and posed no flight risk while under house arrest for several months, the judge said he deserved to serve jail time.
“He belongs in the system where any other defendant who commits these types of crimes goes,” McCormick said.
He sentenced Kline to 3-and-a-half years in prison followed by 5 years of post-release control. He must also forfeit his teaching license and register as a sex offender for 15 years.
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