Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced Wednesday that a Grain Valley man has been charged with child molestation and sodomy of young boys at a school.
A release from Baker's office said Matthew J. Nelson, 33, faces charges of first degree child molestation and three felony counts of first degree statutory sodomy.
According to court documents, Nelson was a teacher at a Grain Valley School District elementary school. Parents of four different children notified the Grain Valley Police Department that their sons, ages 7 to 9, had reported inappropriate touching by Nelson in his classroom. The boys reported Nelson touched their private areas through clothing or directly to skin during classroom hours, including during movie times and reading periods. A forensic interview of the first victim to report verified that the teacher had rubbed the boy in a private area that was inappropriate.
Concern was spreading through the school district after a word spread that the teacher allegedly molested a child.
According to the police report, Nelson allegedly committed first-degree child molestation at Prairie Branch Elementary School. As of Jan. 17, Nelson was on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the ongoing state investigation.
A parent of two children at the school, Leslie Lemmrey, said communication between herself and her kids is important in such situations.
"They know what's appropriate and what's not appropriate so, if they were to see something like that, they would definitely tell me," Lemmrey said.
It's an open line of communication like the one that Lemmrey has with her two children, who are in first and third grade at the elementary school, which led to a parent filing a report against a teacher Jan. 9.
"We had a family report to us on behalf of their child that they had a concern about the teacher, one of the child's teachers," said the Grain Valley Assistant Superintendent, Brad Welle.
The Grain Valley Police report stated a child reported to their parent that they were being touched inappropriately by one of their teachers.
"The reporting party stated when she and the victim arrived back at their residence later in the evening, the victim stated the teacher had touched their genitals through the clothing," the report stated.
Last week, the district said putting the teacher on paid administrative leave isn't a sign of blame and, instead, simply a process following state law.
"We recognize that in the absence of more information some will try to 'fill in the blanks.' We implore you to avoid doing so to protect the privacy of all parties involved," said a portion of the letter sent out from Grain Valley administrators to all staff members Tuesday.
News of the allegation has left Lemmrey believing it's certainly possible this news isn't true, but her trust is with school administrators.
"Real good teachers, real good principal, and I trust that they're doing everything they can to investigate this," she said.
The Children's Division of Missouri Social Services was investigating and wouldn't comment to KCTV5.
"We understand that many of you may have questions, but we have very few definitive answers," said a portion of the letter sent home to parents Tuesday evening.
The district said the investigation will take 30 to 45 days to complete.
Baker thanked the Grain Valley Police Department for acting quickly on reports of parents, who went to police just this month. The police department also followed up appropriately after one parent came forward; detectives quickly interviewed other parents with children in the school, Baker said.
Prosecutors have requested a $250,000 cash bond for Nelson.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-07-23 02:00:37 GMT
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