Prosecutor: Olentangy Teacher Accused Of Rape Was ‘Master Manipulator’

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A Delaware County Grand Jury has returned a 32-count indictment against 39-year-old Matthew D. Rausenberg of Columbus. The Grand Jury also announced there were five juvenile victims, up from the two originally reported.

The indictment comes after authorities received a tip from a teenager, a former student of Rausenberg's.  The next day Mr. Rausenberg was in municipal court.  Rausenberg is charged with two counts of kidnapping - first-degree felonies, two counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor - second-degree felonies, and 28 counts of gross sexual imposition - all third-degree felonies.

The 39-year-old taught 2nd grade at Arrowhead Elementary in the Olentangy School district.  Prosecutors say it appears all of the abuse happened inside his classroom during school hours and investigators say they have video evidence to prove it.

Prosecutors say Matthew Rausenberg was a master of manipulation.    

"This man not only groomed the children, (but also) the parents, the families, the teachers.   Everybody loved Mr. R,” explains Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien.”  “He was the rock star of the school.”

The grand jury indictment accuses the former second grade teacher of sexually touching five students from 2006 to March 2015.

O'Brien says investigators have found no evidence that Rausenberg threatened his victims but, she says, he didn't have to.  "Keep in mind how the grooming process works.  You get them to love you.  You get them to trust you. Whatever you do is okay.”

Prosecutors say investigators have recovered cell phone video evidence of the abuse; physical proof he betrayed the children who were taught to trust him.

Prosecutors add that the sexual abuse happened in Rausenberg's classroom with the door wide open, which raises the question of how did it take so long to get caught?   O’Brien believes Rausenberg got the benefit of the doubt because many loved him – but not everyone.

An Arrowhead Elementary parent - who asked 10TV not to identify - her says she and her husband saw the red flags to the point they vowed Matthew Rausenberg would never teach their kids.

"I was disgusted.  I was upset,” the mother explains.  "I'm so angry.”

The parent says she always noticed Rausenberg paid, what she felt, was too much attention to her little girls at school.  She says she started seeing things that appeared odd.  The parent claims Rausenberg would give girls in her neighborhood rides to the swimming pool and even had mock weddings in his classroom.  She also says he once elaborated to her how much 'his girls' missed him when he was absent from class.

"That was so weird to me, I was standing there talking to him - that is not right,” she explains.

Prosecutors say she was right to trust her instinct.  The parent says she would have never allowed her children to step foot inside the classroom.

10TV asked Olentangy Schools about reports of mock weddings in Rausenberg's classroom and the district says it's conducting an ongoing investigation. 

Rausenberg is scheduled to face a judge Monday to answer to the charges.  The indictment does not include the original charge of rape, but prosecutors say the charges are still enough to send the teacher prison for life. 

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Delaware County Sheriff's Office Detective Bureau at (740) 833-2837.

Olentangy Local Schools Superintendent Dr. Wade Lucas, Ed.D released the following statement in regards to the indictment:

“All of us in the Olentangy schools community continue to be sickened to learn of the new details and horrifying charges against this former teacher. It’s more clear than ever before, he betrayed us all — the parents, the students, and his colleagues.

That’s why our Board of Education moved quickly to make sure he would never teach here, or set foot on our property, ever again. And that's also why we’re calling on the Ohio Department of Education to expedite the revocation of this teacher’s license and ban him from teaching for life. Whatever prison sentence he may eventually get, these steps need to be taken as well.

We continue to work with parents, Sheriff Russ Martin, and Prosecutor Carol O’Brien. Our focus now is on moving the district forward to continue to help our students and families.”