The jury in the Matthew Rausenberg trial will begin deliberating Monday after prosecutors and Rausenberg’s attorney concluded testimony Friday afternoon.
The prosecution and defense both wrapped up testimony in the Delaware County Common Pleas Court trial of the former Arrowhead Elementary School teacher who is accused of inappropriately touching several of his female students over a period of several years.
In Friday’s testimony, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office detective Jason Campbell, the lead investigator, reviewed an interview with Rausenberg on March 16 while a search was conducted at Arrowhead Elementary. Campbell testified that he and Rausenberg, 40, spoke in a conference room while other investigators searched his classroom for media storage devices, like cameras or cellphones.
Campbell said the interview was interrupted when an agent from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force showed him a video on an iPhone 4 — found in Rausenberg’s classroom — that depicts Rausenberg holding a 7-year-old girl in his lap and running his hands across her legs and crotch.
After viewing the video, Campbell and the agent questioned Rausenberg about the video and asked him how many other similar videos existed. Rausenberg said it was the only video and it had been deleted. When pressed by Campbell, Rausenberg described a different video than the one investigators had found.
According to Campbell, Rausenberg “minimalized” the video’s contents and acknowledged that he had about four or five videos with different students.
Campbell testified that Rausenberg admitted that he had touched a couple of students’ genitals and expressed regret that the incident would ruin his relationship with parents and students. However, Rausenberg told Campbell he didn’t hurt anyone and all of the students in his class were happy.
Rausenberg frequently shook his head and made comments to his attorney, Thomas Waldeck, during Campbell’s testimony but few objections were raised.
Prosecutors played sections of the recorded interview for Campbell and the jury, and played several recorded phone calls of Rausenberg speaking to his mother from the Delaware County Jail.
“I didn’t hurt anybody,” Rausenberg told his mother on March 23, six days after his arrest. “That’s the one thing I know; I didn’t hurt anybody.”
Prosecutors also played a phone call from March 17 in which Rausenberg’s mother scolds him for being “too friendly” with his students.
Rausenberg’s behavior with students was also discussed by Dr. Stewart Bassman, a psychologist from Cincinnati, called by prosecutors as an expert in sexual abuse.
Bassman described the behavior of sexual abusers and some of the “grooming” techniques they employ. Bassman said “grooming” is a term used to describe when an abuser “uses power and control to abuse.” He said one of the common techniques of grooming is normalizing behavior — to make what is typically considered to be unacceptable behavior seem natural.
“[Abusers] realize that children want, more than anything else, attention,” Bassman said. “[Children] want to feel important, valued and know that someone cares about them.”
Bassman said abusers will frequently give their victims special attention and will especially target children struggling with personal issues.
Rausenberg’s alleged victims and their parents have testified that Rausenberg picked favorite students in his class and some of the girls said they had just moved to the Olentangy School District and were nervous about starting school there.
Waldeck criticized Bassman’s testimony and pointed out to the jury that Bassman was not familiar with the details of the Rausenberg case.
“The most important thing in a particular case are the particular facts of the case,” Waldeck said to the jury and Bassman.
After Bassman and Campbell, who was the prosecution’s 25th witness, the prosecution rested Friday afternoon.
In his defense presentation, Waldeck called two Arrowhead Elementary staff members and mainly asked questions about procedures at Arrowhead while Rausenberg was a teacher there. Waldeck entered no exhibits into evidence.
Judge David Gormley sent the jury home for the weekend and said the trial would resume Monday with closing arguments from both sides. Then deliberations will begin.
Rausenberg faces a total of 34 charges of gross sexual imposition, five charges of kidnapping, and three charges of pandering sexually oriented material. Prosecutors said there are nine alleged victims in the case — all former students of Rausenberg. The girls now range in age from 9 to 17.
Prosecutors say the kidnapping charges stem from Rausenberg physically restraining students to keep them from leaving.
The trial began Tuesday.
Rausenberg was being held in the Delaware County Jail Friday night.
Rausenberg, a Columbus resident, resigned his position with Olentangy schools shortly after his March 16 arrest.
The jury is comprised of seven men and eight women, including alternate jurors.