DELAWARE, Ohio (WCMH) — A former elementary teacher has been found guilty on 41 of 42 counts of gross sexual imposition, kidnapping and pandering obscene material.
Matthew Rausenberg, a former Olentangy Local Schools teacher in Ohio, was found guilty on 34 counts of gross sexual imposition, four counts of kidnapping and three counts of pandering.
Nine young girls, all former students, testified during the four-day trial.
“The verdict is a kind of validation to them that at least they came to court, got their day in court and someone believed them,” said Emmanuel Olawale, an attorney for two of the victims. “Because throughout all these years of carrying the burden, thinking that no one is going to believe me so this is kind of validating. Now they know that they have a voice and their voice was heard.”
Some of the parents of the victims cried quietly in the courtroom as the judge read the verdict. As Rausenberg was taken out of court in handcuffs, a couple of parents could be heard saying, “Thank you.” Outside the courtroom, one mother fell to her knees.
Prosecutor Carol O’Brien said Rausenberg carefully picked out girls who he thought wouldn’t make a fuss. “He picked on girls who had divorced parents.” O’Brien said. “He picked on girls who were anxious, who were shy, who were new to the community. He knew how to pick his victims.”
Defense attorney Tom Waldeck asked jurors to question the credibility of one of the young female victims. “She indicated that she repeatedly returned to that classroom, to be alone, to be molested,” Waldeck said. “She just kept going back and back and back over a period of over two years. Ladies and gentlemen it’s not credible, it’s not believable.”
One focal point of the trial was an eight minute video recovered from Rausenberg’s cell phone that prosecutors say shows him groping and molesting one of the girls despite her telling him to stop. “And he didn’t stop,” O’Brien said. “He got a phone call in the middle of this. He put (the girl) down and after the phone call picks her back up for Gods sake. He didn’t stop.”
The jury listened to two and a half hours of instructions on the law from the judge before starting deliberations mid-afternoon.
Sentencing will be Thursday at 9 a.m.