Broken Arrow dance instructor charged with child sex abuse

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — A Broken Arrow dance instructor has been officially charged with child sexual abuse.

Content Warning: The following article contains descriptions of a child sexual abuse investigation.

The Wagoner County District Attorney charged Tanequa Stewart Tuesday, months after her arrest in September.

“Miss Tanequa Stewart has been charged in Wagoner County, with one count of child sexual abuse,” said Director of Special Victims Unit in District 27, John Bennett.

Bennett has been handling the case.

He said Stewart is accused of abusing “a minor child by rubbing the buttock, breasts, hips and groin area of [the victim].”

According to Stewart’s arrest report, the victim told police this happened multiple times, lasted several hours and made her feel unsafe.

The report also revealed Stewart called what she did “stupid.”

Stewart previously worked at Miss Kristy’s School of Dance in Broken Arrow, near East Kenosha Street and South 177th East Avenue. FOX23 previously reported that parents were pulling their children out of Miss Kristy’s after finding out about the arrest months later.

The victim was not a student at the dance studio.

Bennet told FOX23 Stewart’s initial court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 28, 2023. He added she is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

FOX23 reached out to Miss Kristy’s multiple times for comment on the situation. Wednesday, the studio sent FOX23 the following statement that was also shared with parents:

“Every part of my life has been driven by my love of dance and the teaching of dance. I have spent much of my life in dance studios. They have always been a safe place for me and an opportunity to build friendships, learn from and teach likeminded people with a passion for dance. In my 30 years of teaching, there has never been an incident in which a student or parent has been, or even reported, being improperly touched by a fellow student or teacher. Still, I can proudly say that my studio has never had such an incident.

Unfortunately, a recent situation has caused alarm and distress, rightfully so, within the Miss Kristy’s School of Dance family. I want to take this opportunity to apologize for a lack of candor, communication and immediate response to information I learned about one of our instructors. In late September, I was informed by one of our instructors, Tanequa (TeKi) Stewart, that she had been arrested. I was told by Ms. Stewart that she had been arrested in what I understood to be a dispute or misunderstanding with a young woman under her custodial care which started out as a parenting moment and spiraled into a complaint by the young woman about an interaction that had occurred about a year and a half before. I was told by Ms. Stewart that she had voluntarily gone to the police to allow the young woman to meet with an officer. Ms. Stewart explained that she was arrested but not charged and further clarified that she had not done anything wrong. At that time, I did not fully appreciate nor fully understand the precise nature of the incident. Having known Ms. Stewart for more than 10 years, I trusted Ms. Stewart’s representation of the incident and her confidence that the matter would be quickly resolved. Still, I told her to keep me informed with any updates.

Over the next couple of months, Ms. Stewart continued to teach her classes at Miss Kristy’s. As you know, our classes are always open to viewing by parents and other instructors through large windows or video monitor in our lobby in order to maintain a safe and open environment. Many of our classes additionally are taught by both an assistant and an instructor to preserve a secure environment.

On December 28, 2022, I was asked about the arrest by one of our parents. When asked, I foolishly responded that I had seen the police report. This was wrong. I had never seen a police report and to my knowledge, one would not have been available to me during an active investigation. Further, as of the end of the year, to my knowledge, Ms. Stewart had still not been charged with a crime.

I have since seen a copy of the police report, and Ms. Stewart’s statement in the police report does not match the information told to me by Ms. Stewart after she reported being arrested. Ms. Stewart has been terminated and is no longer allowed to teach classes at Miss Kristy’s School of Dance. There is no allegation in the report or otherwise that any alleged abuse involved the dance studio or any of its students. However, my primary concern is protecting/earning the trust of our students, parents and instructors moving forward.

Although I have always considered Miss Kristy’s to be a safe place for children and parents alike, I am implementing policies and procedures to ensure that you, too, consider this a safe place. These policies and procedures leave no room for misunderstanding or passing lack of judgement for any incident or allegation that could potentially place someone in harm’s way. Miss Kristy’s School of Dance will protect our students’ right to a safe and open environment and will maintain a strict adherence to hiring, suspension and termination procedures with our students and parents in mind. I truly and sincerely apologize for my lack of understanding and candor.

If any of you have any concerns in the future or have questions about our commitment to safety, please come see me at the studio or plan a time when we can meet.”