UPDATE: Former 1st Year Teacher in Smyrna Now Finishing 1st Year in Prison

Jun 18, 2024 at 10:35 am by WGNS News

(L to R) 2021 Webpage from RCS School John Colemon / Current Prison Photo of Taylor Cruze

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN – A woman who was once navigating the challenges of her first year in teaching is now navigating the intricacies of her first year in a Tennessee prison. During the 2021-2022 school year, Taylor Cruze was tackling her inaugural season as an educator at John Colemon Elementary School in Smyrna, but after allegations arose accusing her of misconduct with juveniles, everything changed in the matter of a minute.  25-Year-old Cruze was arrested on sexual in nature charges in 2022 and found guilty in 2023, marking a remarkably rapid descent from an inspiring young educator to a cautionary tale.



Ms. Cruze, who once guided 5th grade minds in the classroom, was arrested under a sealed indictment for 19 offenses that allegedly occurred in August of 2021. Those offenses included 5 counts of Exploitation of a minor by electronic means - under the age of 13, 5 counts of Exploitation of a minor by electronic means, 5 counts of Especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, 3 counts of Solicitation of a minor – Rape of a Child, and 1 count of Sexual battery by an authority figure. All of the charges were filed with the Rutherford County Circuit Courts in August of 2022, almost exactly one year after the alleged incidents occurred (Read more about the Tennessee Code Annotated charges HERE).

Looking back to her case, and just one month before her arrest, Cruze was suspended from her position in the Rutherford County Schools on May 2, 2022. Shortly after the educator was suspended, she was arrested by Criminal Investigator Marcy Gossett with the Smyrna Police Department. Following her arrest, she was released from jail after posting a $100-thousand bond.

In the Rutherford County Courts, the 19 counts of her reported misconduct went before Judge James Turner, with Sharon Reddick from the District Attorney's office prosecuting the case. Cruze, represented by attorney Will Fraley, was ultimately found guilty of Especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and Solicitation of a minor - Rape of a child.

The teacher who once found her daily routine in a classroom was then ordered to spend her next decade in the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, located in Henning, Tennessee. Trading lesson plans for prison rules, her detention began almost exactly one year ago today, on June 20, 2023. She’ll be marking her calendar for quite a while, with her release set for exactly 10 years from now, on June 20, 2033. Upon her release, Cruze will be 34-years-old.

Under Tennessee law, Ms. Cruze was also required to register as a sex offender. The Sex Offender Registry shows that she is classified as “Violent Against Children.”


Source: RC Courts 75CC1-2022-CR-87857, TDOC


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