The recently-dismissed civil lawsuit against former Olentangy school teacher Matthew Rausenberg and school district officials was not dismissed because of an out-of-court settlement, school officials said Friday.
The lawsuit was originally filed on April 7 by Westerville attorney Emmanuel Olawale, who was representing three of the victims of the former Arrowhead Elementary School teacher and five of the victims’ family members.
The lawsuit named Rausenberg; Olentangy Superintendent Mark Raiff; former Olentangy Superintendent Wade Lucas; Arrowhead Elementary School Principal Luke Carlisle; and former Arrowhead Elementary School Principal Nadine Ross, as defendants. Olentangy Local Schools and Arrowhead Elementary School were also named.
The lawsuit stated that each plaintiff seeks damages greater than $25,000, along with punitive damages and court costs.
However, on June 21, Olawale filed a motion asking Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley to dismiss the case without prejudice. Gormley granted the motion on June 24 and the case was dismissed.
Olentangy Local Schools Communication Director Krista Davis said in an email Friday that no settlement had been reached in the case.
“The district will not speculate as to why the case was dismissed,” Davis wrote. “We are pleased the case has been dismissed at this time. This allows us to get back to our top priorities of educating kids and keeping our students safe.”
According to the Ohio Revised Code, a case dismissed without prejudice can be filed again.
Olawale did not specify a reason for the dismissal in the motion when contacted by The Gazette. Olawale said he had no comment regarding the case Thursday.
Rausenberg was found guilty of 34 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, which are second-degree felonies, by a Delaware County Common Pleas Court jury on Jan. 25 and sentenced to 106 years to life in prison on Jan. 28 by Gormley. Rausenberg was acquitted on one charge of kidnapping.
The civil complaint alleged that Carlisle and Ross, while serving as principals at Arrowhead, personally received notice of allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior but did not report these allegations to police. The complaint says the school district was negligent and therefore responsible for Rausenberg’s actions.
Raiff issued a statement after the lawsuit was filed, stating the district never received a report indicating Rausenberg was involved in any illegal activities.
The criminal trial began on Jan. 19 and, over the course of four days, prosecutors called 25 witnesses, including nine victims and many of their parents, to testify. The defense called only two witnesses. Rausenberg did not testify in his defense.
Many of Rausenberg’s victims and their family members testified that Rausenberg favored female students and gave them special treatment. The victims testified that Rausenberg would put them on his lap and have them read to him. However, the victims testified that he would rub their legs and inner thighs with his hands.
A video was shown during the trial that depicted Rausenberg touching various parts of a student’s body behind his desk and showed her attempting to leave his grasp and saying “no.” Investigators said the video was the key piece of evidence in the case.
He resigned his teaching job at Arrowhead after his March 2015 arrest.
Rausenberg is currently serving his sentence at the Lorain Correctional Institute.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.