Prosecutors: Olentangy Teacher Sexually Abused Girls Aged 8 & 10 At School, Took Cell Phone Video

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Delaware County Sheriff's Deputies have arrested an elementary school teacher on charges of rape and gross sexual imposition.

According to investigators, Matthew Rausenberg, 39, was arrested Monday night.  Rausenberg was an employee at Arrowhead Elementary School in the Olentangy Local School District.

Prosecutors say two girls, ages 8 and 10, were sexually abused in the teacher's classroom between 2006 and 2010.  Court records also show the teacher videotaped one of the incidents on his cell phone.  Investigators say a teenager came forward with the accusations that stunned the school and terrified parents.

The 39-year old faced a judge Tuesday morning and was charged with rape and gross sexual imposition.  He was arraigned in Delaware County Court and a judge set his bond at $1 million.

The investigation came to a head Monday evening  when investigators raided Rausenberg's home on  Maynard Avenue in Columbus.  Neighbors say they were stunned by the charges.

"The word rape just strikes you and it's totally shocking,” said neighbor Rick Morasse.  “Totally out of character [for Rausenberg.]"  Morasse adds that Rausenberg often talked about his love for teaching.   "He seemed passionate about teaching the younger generation.”

But investigators say Rausenberg exploited the young and had taught at Arrowhead for 12 years.    Investigators could face the daunting task of interviewing dozens, if not hundreds, of Rausenberg's former students.

"Other than murder, this is the top level crime you can get. The allegations are that this man raped young children under the age of 10.  There are allegations of with force, which puts it as possibility of life without parole," said Carol O'Brien, Delaware County Prosecutor.

PAST CASES

10TV has learned this isn't the first time Rausenberg has come under fire for inappropriately touching a student.  Olentangy Schools say two years ago, the teacher was disciplined after a parent complained her young daughter rubbed Rausenberg's shoulders and sat on his lap.  Another parent reported similar concerns six years ago, but the school seemed confident Rausenberg wasn’t out of line.

The now-16-year-old student claims Rausenberg sexually abused her over four years, starting in 2006 when she was in the second grade. She says it started with him "... touching her in weird ways."

She says beginning in the 4th grade, Rausenberg would:  "... Pull her into his classroom when no one else was in it... Ask her to sit on his lap and read children's books to him."

She says as she read, he would:  "... Rub on her body ... Unzip his pants and expose himself."   She said he would also   "... Lift up her shirt and put his hands down her pants ..."

The girl claims this happened multiple times and continued into 5th grade. She told detectives during one of these incidents, she remembers Rausenberg turning on a camera positioned near his desk that was pointing at them while he sexually abused her. She says one time at the end of the day, she ran into his room, took the camera and wrote him a note saying she'd report him to police if it continued.

She continues that the next day she discovered Rausenberg had "ransacked her locker and book bag."   She goes on to say he went to the high school her sister attended, drove her home and demanded to be let in so he could search for the video camera.

She says her sister didn't know "... the camera contained videos of Rausenberg sexually abusing her and other children that she recognized from school."

The girl's grandmother found the camera and gave it back to Rausenberg without knowing what it contained.

PARENTS REACT

"My heart dropped when I saw the picture," said parent Linda Smith.  It was a picture of Rausenberg along with the news he'd been arrested for rape and gross sexual imposition of children.  He was the second grade teacher for Billy and Linda Smith's daughter.

"I'm just thinking, was he planning to do that to my child?" said Billy.

Seven years ago, their daughter told them Rausenberg touched her inappropriately.  "Whenever someone would do a good job, he would rub them on the shoulders and then tap them, he even picked her up and put her on his lap and rubbed her legs," said Linda.

The Smiths immediately took their concerns to the principal at that time.  "She said he's a good teacher, he would never do that, that's his way of saying good job,"  said Linda.  "To touch a child like that, no.  I was very, very mad."

Then Linda met later with Rausenberg AND confronted him about it and he said he was sorry he would never do it again.

And he didn't.  They didn't file a formal complaint.  But they're relieved to hear about Rausenberg's arrest.  Hopefully it put a stop to it and he will not be able to hurt a child again.

The Olentangy Local School District Superintendent was notified of the charges Monday afternoon.  Rausenberg was immediately removed from the school building, authorities said.  Olentangy Local Schools have counselors available for students and families.

If convicted, he could be sentenced to a life behind bars.

The school sent out the following message to parents on Tuesday morning:

I need to make you aware of a situation that occurred Monday at Arrowhead Elementary School. The Delaware County Sheriff's Office arrested teacher Matt Rausenberg on charges of rape and gross sexual imposition.

Our first course of action was to immediately place Mr. Rausenberg on unpaid administrative leave, relieve him from any and all teaching responsibilities, and remove him from the school setting. He is currently in the Delaware County Jail awaiting arraignment.

We are deeply concerned about this incident and these allegations. Our focus is on the students and ensuring they receive appropriate support. We will have additional counselors in the building as needed.

I know many of you will have questions about this. Feel free to contact Principal Luke Carlisle at the school at 740-657-4650. If he is not immediately available he will return messages as soon as possible.

More information from the Olentangy School District, including resources to help parents

VIDEO: How to talk to your kids

Here is a look at recent cases involving educators and sex crimes around central Ohio


Temperatures Fall Throughout St. Patrick's Day

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Your Doppler 10 Forecast

This Afternoon Mostly cloudy, breezy & cooler. Falling into the 40s. N 10-20 mph
Tonight: Partly cloudy and much cooler. 26 NW 5-15 mph
Tomorrow Mostly sunny and cool. 43 NW 3-6 mph
Thursday Mostly cloudy and a bit milder.

Special Information:
A cold front will usher in cooler temperatures today along with scattered clouds and breezy conditions. Cooler and drier air will settle in over the next couple of days ahead of another weak system that will bring a chance for a few light showers by Thursday night. Yet another system will bring a slight chance for a sprinkle or two Saturday and much cooler air back to the region by Sunday.

ALERTS : SPC has No Risk Areas today. Flood Warnings remain along parts of the Scioto, Ohio and Muskingum Rivers.

Inconvenient WX/Plan Your Day: Breezy and cooler today, but only a slight chance for sprinkles. The next few days look dry and cooler as well. There’s a chance for a passing shower Thursday night and a slight chance Saturday. The next significant chance for showers holds off until early next week.

Stats: Averages: 52/33. Record High: 75 (2013) Low: 0 (1900) Last 7 Days
(47, 54, 53, 56, 59, 55, 69). No precip. yesterday. 2.96” March. +1.54” YTD: 7:53” +1.13”) Snowfall: None 4.5” March +1.8”) Since July. 32.5” +8.4”) Sunrise: 7:40 Sunset: 7:40