DELAWARE CO., Ohio — Victim after victim testified in Delaware County court Thursday in a sexual assault case against a former elementary school teacher.
One witness, a 10-year-old girl, walked away from the stand with tears in her eyes Thursday, clutching a stuffed animal and hugging her parents.
On the third day of the trial against Matthew Rausenberg, 40, the victims who spoke gave similar accounts of their experiences in his class.
Rausenberg has been charged with more than 40 counts of sexual assault on girls under the age of 13, while he worked for Olentangy Local Schools.
The allegations against Rausenberg, who taught second and third grade at Arrowhead Elementary School, stretch back to 2006. He was arrested in March of 2015.
Prosecutors asked each alleged victim detailed questions about their time in Rausenberg’s class and their relationship with him afterward.
Each victim testified about sitting on the teacher’s lap, holding his hand and giving and receiving back massages.
The girls also told the jury Rausenberg favored the female students and played favorites among those girls.
But the defense argued the girls who spoke Thursday were never fearful about going to school or interacting with Rausenberg.
The teacher, known by many as “Mr. R.,” was described as popular, fun and well-liked.
But some of the mothers who testified said they had concerns.
In addition to accusations that girls sat on his lap and held his hand, mothers said Rausenberg talked with them about personal issues.
According to witnesses, female students would go back to his classroom and visit, even when they were no longer his students.
Parents said Rausenberg took a lot of photos with his cellphone during class.
This testimony came after prosecutors showed a video Wednesday of the teacher allegedly touching one of his students.
But the defense said Thursday those photos were used for a class yearbook, made and distributed by Rausenberg to his students at the end of the year.
One mother testified she once saw her daughter wearing only an undershirt in Rausenberg’s class. The daughter said she was too hot and that the teacher allowed her to take off the shirt she was wearing over her tank top.
At one point, Rausenberg’s attorney asked questions in an attempt to discredit one victim’s testimony.
“How many times have you met with the prosecutors to talk about what you were going to be saying?” the defense attorney asked.
The prosecution said testimony will continue Friday with more victims and parents. The prosecution also expects to call an expert on disclosure of abuse, as well as two law enforcement witnesses.
The defense has subpoenaed several witnesses as well.
Prior to this trial, Rausenberg turned down a plea deal and switched defense attorneys more than once.