An internationally-recognised dance and ballet teacher has been jailed for sexually abusing three girls under the age of 16.
Stephen Beagley, 62, formerly of Wadhurst, had been due to face trial at Lewes Crown Court, but at a hearing on October 21 he admitted five counts of sexual assault, two charges of indecent assault and one of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.
On Friday (November 1) he was sentenced at the same court, having admitted: two counts of indecent assault against one girl; four counts of sexual assault, and one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, against another girl under the age of 16; and one count of sexual assault on another girl under the age of 16.
Police said he also pleaded not guilty to another four charges of sexual assault against the first girl and these were ordered by the trial judge to lay on the court file.
At Lewes Crown Court, he was given a ten-year prison sentence, police confirmed.
He had recently been living in Gravesend but was living in Wadhurst, East Sussex, at the times of the offences.
He will also be a registered sex offender for life and was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), severely restricting his access to anyone under-18 until further court notice.
Judge Christine Laing heard that Beagley’s offending spanned more than a decade.
Detective Sergeant John Steven of the East Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said: “This was a complex investigation of historic allegations carried out with the support of the victims and alongside partner agencies. Beagley was a trusted and well known man in his local community in East Sussex, and around the world in performing and teaching ballet.
“The offences began to come to light for the first time just over two years ago when one of the victims, by then an adult and who had lived with her distressing experiences for many years, finally gained courage and spoke to the police. She described how Beagley had sexually abused her for five years.”
Police said Beagley has not been found guilty of any offences taking place during ballet or dance lessons in relation to this victim.
John Steven added: “The second victim came forward soon after the first, describing similar periods of abuse...and the third victim described being assaulted by Beagley while visiting his then address.
“Beagley targeted the young girls he came into contact with, and abused them while they were at their most vulnerable, over many years. I am glad that the victims had the courage, strength and commitment to come forward and remain resilient through this investigation, ensuring the justice achieved today.
“Sussex Police take all allegations of sexual abuse seriously and this case is further evidence that, even when allegations are historic, or when people may think it is too late, justice can still be done.”
After the sentencing, an NSPCC spokesperson said: “Beagley is a vile predator who hid his sickening crimes behind the façade of a successful dance career for decades.
“Thanks to the bravery of his victims in coming forward, he has now been brought to justice and it is vital they get the necessary support to come to terms with what happened.
“It is never too late to speak out about child sexual abuse. Adults can speak in confidence to trained counsellors on the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.”