A former Grain Valley elementary teacher accused of fondling students has pleaded guilty to child molestation charges.
Matthew J. Nelson, 34, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Jackson County court to charges of child molestation, statutory sodomy and attempted child molestation. The charges involve 11 boys.
Numerous tears were shed by parents as Nelson admitted fondling boys in his classroom and on field trips. Nelson himself wept on the stand as he discussed the 16 counts that occurred in 2011.
The former teacher at Prairie Branch Elementary School was charged last year after students told authorities he fondled them when they came to his desk asking for help with assignments and during quiet reading and movie times. Children were even attacked at a Royals game.
Nelson taught second- and third-graders in Grain Valley for a decade.
The victims were between 7 and 10.
His attorney, J.R. Hobbs, said Nelson "accepts full responsibility for his wrongful acts." He said Nelson regrets his conduct, and is "sincerely remorseful." Hobbs added that his client appreciates the support he has received from his family.
"He's remorseful for his unlawful improper acts of touching and fondling certain students. He regrets the affect that his conduct has had on the students and families," Hobbs said. "He's facing a significant sentence."
The plea arrangement calls for Nelson to be sentenced to 15 years in prison. Formal sentencing is scheduled for April 25.
Nelson had no prior criminal record and was just short of receiving his master's degree.
Grain Valley School District officials said they have provided support and resources to the victims and their families and will continue to do so.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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