The trials for two former central Ohio teachers accused of inappropriately touching students are scheduled to begin in the coming weeks in Delaware County Common Pleas Court.
However, the trial for Freddy Leon Wilson, 62, of 2785 Castlewood Road, Columbus, which was scheduled to begin this week, has been delayed until Feb. 23.
Meanwhile, Matthew Rausenberg, 40, a former Olentangy Local Schools teacher, was in court Monday afternoon for a pretrial hearing in preparation for his Jan. 19 jury trial.
Wilson’s trial was delayed last week after Wilson’s attorney, Bradley Koffel, said he required additional time to review evidence and prepare for trial. Koffel took over as Wilson’s attorney in October after Wilson fired his previous attorney on the day his trial was set to begin.
Judge Everett Krueger granted Koffel’s motion to continue the case and rescheduled the trial for Feb. 23.
Prosecutors say Wilson, a former chess instructor at the Prep Academy School’s Polaris campus, touched two students inappropriately during lessons.
Wilson has pleaded not guilty to three counts of gross sexual imposition, which are third-degree felonies. The charges carry a school-zone specification that would add two years of prison on each charge to a prison sentence, if Wilson is convicted.
Prosecutors allege Wilson touched two students under the age of 10 during chess lessons. The offenses are alleged to have occurred in both Delaware and Franklin counties.
Attorneys were in court Monday in preparation for Rausenberg’s trial. Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien and Rausenberg’s public defender, Thomas Waldeck, discussed a number of concerns they have at a pre-trial hearing.
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 victims in the case.
O’Brien told Common Pleas Judge David Gormley Monday that her chief concerns have to do with the alleged victims testifying in the case.
Specifically, O’Brien asked Gormley’s permission to allow the alleged victims’ parents to testify first and then allow them to sit in the courtroom during their children’s testimony so the children won’t have to be separated from their parents. O’Brien also asked if it would be acceptable if the children testifying brought a stress ball or stuffed animal to the stand with them for support.
Waldeck had no objections to these requests and Gormley said neither request would be a problem.
O’Brien also asked Gormley to order that local media not photograph or record alleged victims or their family’s testimony so their identities are not made public.
Gormley also granted this request and said he would formally file a motion in a few days.
Finally, O’Brien asked that a deadline for motions be set in this case to prevent the case from being continued at the last minute. Gormley set a deadline for motions for Jan. 13.
O’Brien said Monday that the trial will likely take four days.
Rausenberg was originally scheduled for a trial on Oct. 6, 2015, but the trial was continued to Jan. 19 so Waldeck could adequately prepare for trial and so the alleged victims would not have to testify around the holidays.
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. The kidnapping charges are related to times that Rausenberg allegedly restrained students.
Rausenberg was re-indicted Aug. 21 by a Delaware County grand jury. Prosecutors say four more alleged victims had come forward to allege sexual misconduct since he was originally indicted in March 2015.
O’Brien has said that Rausenberg faces life in prison if he is convicted of all charges.
Rausenberg has reportedly rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors so that alleged victims would not have to testify in court.
Rausenberg was in the Delaware County Jail Monday afternoon. Wilson was out on bail Monday.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.