Man charged with child sex crimes has history of working with kids, prior trouble


New information reveals the troubling history of a mental health worker charged with sexually abusing a child in his care.

Matthew Gatton appeared before a Franklin County Judge Tuesday morning on two felony counts of gross sexual imposition.

Westerville Police say Gatton admitted touching the penis of an 11-year-old boy between 20 and 50 times.

Gatton was a mental health worker with Ohio Guidestone.

The boy's mother says he worked with her mentally ill son three to four times a week for the last year.

Monday she said she felt "heartbroken and betrayed" over Gatton's alleged crimes.

But her child wasn't the only one Gatton had worked with, and he wasn't the first to accuse him of sexual abuse.

From August 2012 to January 2014, Gatton was an academic mentor for Kiddie Academy of Reynoldsburg, where he worked in a before-and-after-school program out of Rose Hill Elementary.

Vineyard Columbus church said approximately five years ago, Gatton served as a volunteer with the kids' ministry.

A spokesperson says "concerns were raised" about him, prompting church leadership to "flag him" in their internal system as not suitable to work with children.

The spokesperson says he was terminated as a volunteer.

And Gatton's own family reported him to Columbus Police in 2016.

Relatives, who 10TV is not identifying to protect the anonymity of the child, told police Gatton had "molested" their 7-year-old son.

Tuesday the boy's mother said, "He targeted my son, he groomed my son and he molested my son."

"He told my son if he ever told anyone what he was doing, that he would be arrested."

The Franklin County Prosecutor says the accusation was two years old and lacking the corroborating evidence to prosecute.

But Tuesday the boy's mother praised the Westerville family who reported Gatton last month.

"The mother and little boy who reported him are heroes for what they've done," she said.

She believes Gatton has victimized others and says "Everybody who has ever had contact with him needs to talk to their children."

Ohio Guidestone said it suspended Gatton immediately after learning of the current accusation against him and fired him after learning additional information from Westerville Police.

In a written statement, Vineyard Columbus said: "We take the safety and security of our children very seriously and we have policies and procedures in place to ensure our church is a safe place for young people."

Westerville Police say they want to hear from anyone with additional information on Gatton. The WPD Tip Line is 614-901-6866.

A judge ordered Gatton held on $500,000 bond.