Families of three victims of a former Olentangy teacher convicted of inappropriately touching his students have filed a lawsuit against the Olentangy School District.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday by Emmanuel Olawale, an attorney representing three of the victims of former Arrowhead Elementary School teacher Matthew Rausenberg and five of the victims’ family members.
The lawsuit names Rausenberg; Olentangy Superintendent Mark Raiff; former Olentangy Superintendent Wade Lucas; Arrowhead Elementary School Principal Luke Carlisle; and former Arrowhead Elementary School Principal Nadine Ross as defendants. Olentangy Local Schools and Arrowhead Elementary School are also named.
The lawsuit states that each plaintiff seeks damages greater than $25,000, along with punitive damages and attorney fees.
Olawale also requests the case be decided by a jury.
Rausenberg was found guilty of 34 counts of gross sexual imposition, which are third-degree felonies; four counts of kidnapping, first-degree felonies; and three counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, which are second-degree felonies, by a Delaware County Common Pleas Court jury on Jan. 25 and sentenced to 106 years to life in prison on Jan. 28 by Judge David Gormley. Rausenberg was acquitted on one charge of kidnapping.
The civil complaint alleges that Carlisle and Ross, while principals at Arrowhead, personally received “notice of allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior of [Rausenberg] involving female students, yet both principals on separate occasions did not report the allegations to [authorities.]”
The complaint further states that school officials were “negligent in supervising and monitoring the activities of [Rausenberg] even after allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviors were made by concerned parents” and says the district is “therefore responsible and liable for the wrongful, criminal, reckless and tortuous acts and omissions of its employees and agents.”
Court records indicate there have been no filings since the complaint was filed Thursday. Additionally there are no hearings scheduled for the case.
Officials from the Olentangy School District issued a statement Friday about the lawsuit.
“Our top priority is keeping our students safe,” said Raiff. “This predator worked hard to deceive everyone and to avoid our many safeguards. It’s important to remember that this criminal is 100 percent responsible for his actions. Prior to the arrest, we never received a report indicating this former teacher was involved in activity that would have required reporting to children welfare authorities. If we had received such information, we would have followed our long-established protocol of reporting him to child welfare authorities.”
The criminal trial began on Jan. 19 and, over the course of four days, prosecutors called 25 witnesses, including nine victims and many of their parents, to testify. The defense called only two witnesses. Rausenberg did not testify in his defense.
Many of Rausenberg’s victims and their family members testified that Rausenberg favored female students and gave them special treatment. The victims testified that Rausenberg would put them on his lap and have them read to him. However, the victims testified that he would rub their legs and inner thighs with his hands.
A video was shown during the trial that depicted Rausenberg touching various parts of a student’s body behind his desk and showed her attempting to leave his grasp and saying “no.” Investigators said the video was the key piece of evidence in the case.
He resigned his teaching job at Arrowhead after his March 2015 arrest.
Rausenberg is currently serving his sentence at the Lorain Correctional Institute.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.