Trial for former Olentangy teacher accused of touching students set to begin Tuesday


Ten months after his arrest, a former Olentangy Local Schools teacher will be tried in front of a jury Tuesday in Delaware County Common Pleas Court for allegedly having sexual contact with several students.

The trial of former Arrowhead Elementary School teacher Matthew Rausenberg, 40, of Columbus, is scheduled to begin in Judge David Gormley’s Court Tuesday morning.

Rausenberg faces a total of 34 charges of gross sexual imposition, five charges of kidnapping, and three charges of pandering sexually oriented material. Rausenberg is accused of inappropriately touching several elementary-age female students over several years. Prosecutors say there are nine alleged victims in the case.

Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien said the gross sexual imposition charges carry a school-zone specification that could add two years for each charge he’s convicted of. O’Brien said that if he is convicted, he could face life in prison.

O’Brien will be prosecuting the case, along with first assistant county prosecutor Kyle Rohrer.

Court documents indicate the case is scheduled for four days.

Rausenberg will be represented by public defender Thomas Waldeck, who was appointed to the case on Aug. 28 after Rausenberg fired his hired attorney, Richard Mayhall. Gormley asked if there had been a “breakdown in their professional relationship” and Mayhall said that was the case.

Mayhall had represented Rausenberg since his original arraignment on March 30.

Rausenberg initially was facing 28 gross sexual imposition charges, two kidnapping charges and two charges of pandering sexually oriented material – all in connection with accusations from five former students — after he was indicted by a grand jury. The kidnapping charges are related to times that Rausenberg allegedly restrained students.

Rausenberg was re-indicted Aug. 21 by another grand jury. Prosecutors say four more alleged victims had come forward to allege sexual misconduct since he was originally indicted in March 2015.

Gormley set Rausenberg’s bond at $1 million.

The trial was then set for Tuesday, Jan. 19, so that the alleged victims would not have to testify around the holidays and to give Waldeck time to go over the evidence.

Court documents indicate that subpoenas have been issued to the nine alleged victims and their parents, as well as several police officers.

Rausenberg was arrested March 16 by Delaware County sheriff’s deputies after a teenager reported that she had been sexually abused by Rausenberg while she was a student at Arrowhead Elementary.

After Rausenberg’s arrest, sheriff’s deputies and Columbus police searched Rausenberg’s home at 144 Maynard Ave. in Columbus, searching for video evidence of sexual abuse. Videos were found, according to authorities.

Rausenberg has been in the Delaware County Jail since his arrest.

The Olentangy Board of Education held a special meeting on March 23 to discuss firing Rausenberg but, at the meeting, the board received a letter from Rausenberg who tendered his resignation.

Rausenberg has reportedly rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors so that alleged victims would not have to testify in court.

By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG

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