A 31-year-old male dance instructor faces a felony charge of sexual abuse of a minor in a case involving a student at a Newcastle studio.
Ryan Morrill, of North Monmouth, “was involved sexually with” the female teenager for about 10 months, according to a press release from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office received information about the alleged abuse Wednesday, Feb. 21. After an investigation, Morrill was arrested and taken to Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset. Bail was set at $1,000 cash. The class C charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Morrill also works as a dance instructor at studios in Auburn, Augusta, Lewiston, Thomaston, and Winthrop, according to the press release.
Faye Cain owns Midcoast Dance Studio, the studio in Newcastle where Morrill was an instructor.
Morrill taught three or four hip-hop dance classes for various age groups every Monday, according to Cain. She described him as a self-employed contractor rather than an employee of the studio, an arrangement she said is common among small studios.
She could not recall when Morrill started teaching at Midcoast, but said it might have been three years ago.
Cain was always nearby during Morrill’s classes. He was never alone with the student at the studio and Cain did not see any signs of inappropriate behavior, she said. She said she would have contacted law enforcement immediately if she had.
“I am mortified that this has happened … I was really blindsided and shocked by it,” Cain said. “I had no idea that he was capable of it. Had I thought he was capable of it, he never would have taught at my studio or anyone else’s.”
“I just want the public to know that I don’t condone it, I don’t tolerate it, that I take every step possible to protect children, that I think it’s a heinous crime, and that I feel sick to my stomach over the situation,” Cain said.
The studio has notified students’ families of the situation and will address Morrill’s departure with students in a manner appropriate for each age group, according to Cain.
The sheriff’s office continues to investigate and expects Morrill to face additional charges.
“It is possible there are other victims involved in this case,” Lt. Michael Murphy said in the press release. The agency encourages any victims or anyone with information about the case to contact Detective Sgt. Ronald Rollins at 882-7332 or their local law enforcement agency.