The day after Matthew Rausenberg was convicted, Delaware County’s prosecutor said she believes there could be more victims of the former Arrowhead Elementary School teacher who didn’t come forward to report sexual abuse.
Rausenberg, 40, of Columbus, is to be sentenced Thursday morning in Delaware County Common Pleas after a jury found him guilty of all but one criminal charge late Monday evening.
Rausenberg was convicted Monday on 32 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, second-degree felonies.
Prosecutor Carol O’Brien said she hopes the guilty verdict is a comfort to other possible victims. Nine girls — ranging in age from 9 to 17 — testified against their former teacher at his trial last week.
“Get some comfort from this verdict,” O’Brien said Tuesday. “Take the time to talk to someone. Don’t let this build up.”
O’Brien theorized that there were more victims when he was indicted a second time by a grand jury in August after new victims had come forward. O’Brien said a pattern emerged in the investigation that suggested that Rausenberg would prey on a few students every year and investigators had noticed a series of gaps in the pattern.
O’Brien said Rausenberg assaulted young female students who “wouldn’t make a fuss” and filmed himself groping and molesting a second-grader after she told him to stop.
“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.”
The jury heard closing arguments Monday morning and began deliberations about 2 p.m. The verdict was announced about 9:40 p.m. Monday. The jury had asked Judge David Gormley several questions and asked the court reporter to read back two different witnesses’ testimony before they could make their decision.
The jury returned a not-guilty verdict on a single kidnapping charge.
Gormley scheduled a sentencing hearing for Thursday at 9 a.m.
If Rausenberg receives the maximum sentence for every charge and is ordered to serve them consecutively, he is facing up to 312 years in prison, O’Brien said.
O’Brien said several victims and their parents plan on giving statements to Gormley at the sentencing hearing.
O’Brien also said Tuesday that prosecutors had offered Rausenberg a plea deal of 20 years to life in prison but withdrew the deal after four of the victims were required to undergo competency hearings. O’Brien added that she reached out to Rausenberg’s second attorney, Thomas Waldeck, and said prosecutors would be willing to discuss a deal, even after it was withdrawn, but no attempts at negotiations were made.
“I don’t think he ever planned on pleading,” O’Brien said. “He was going to take it all the way. Just looking at him and listening to him talk and seeing the things he did, I think he thought he could talk his way out of it. I think he truly believed he was so much smarter than everybody and so much better than everybody that he could talk his way around everything that we had.”
Besides the testimony of the victims and parents, prosecutors played the video of Rausenberg touching a former student. The video was discovered on Rausenberg’s iPhone by investigators.
Arrowhead Elementary is in the Olentangy Local School District. Superintendent Mark T. Raiff issued a statement about the jury’s verdict Tuesday.
“Justice has been done,” Raiff said. “The verdict in this case will help us continue to move forward with the healing process as that is our main focus. We are thankful for the hard work and diligence of the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien throughout this process.”
The trial began on Jan. 19 and, over the course of four days, O’Brien and Rohrer called 25 witnesses to testify. The defense called two witnesses — Arrowhead staff members, to discuss policies at Arrowhead.
Rausenberg did not testify in his defense.
He resigned his teaching job after his March 2015 arrest.
Rausenberg was in the Delaware County Jail Tuesday awaiting his sentencing. Throughout the trial, he frequently shook his head and scoffed at testimony given by witnesses and prosecutors.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG. The Associated Press contributed to this report.