Matthew Ellsworth: Sex with student not criminal because it happened during summer

Categories: Crime
matthew ellsworth.jpg
Ellsworth argues he didn't commit a crime a crime since the sex happened after the school year ended.
Then-teacher Matthew Ellsworth had consensual sex in his St. Paul apartment with an underage former student during the summer after her junior year in high school.

Ellsworth, 36, lost a teaching job and now faces a criminal sexual conduct charge as a result of the tryst. But his attorney, arguing yesterday during the first day of Ellsworth's trial, claims the sex wasn't criminal because it occurred during the summer, when Ellsworth wasn't in a "position of authority" over the girl.

While it may be immaterial in a court of law, the girl's testimony makes it sound as though she instigated the relationship with Ellsworth. She even said she still wants to be with the former teacher.

According to the Pioneer Press, Ellsworth was the girl's English teacher at Spectrum High School, a charter school in Elk River, during the spring of 2011. She was then a junior.

During the spring semester, the girl began to spend time with Ellsworth in the computer lab, and eventually the two began exchanging text messages outside school. She testified that nothing inappropriate happened between the two during the school year.

Last summer, she began to stay at his apartment from time to time while he was out of town to look after his pets. The tryst began one evening when Ellsworth was emotionally discussing his terminally ill mother with the girl, who was sitting on his couch at the time.

"I was trying to make him feel better, so that's why I hugged him" and then kissed him, she said, adding that Ellsworth was "extremely hesitant" to engage in sexual relations.

The girl's family eventually caught wind of the relationship and alerted St. Paul police. After he was charged with criminal sexual conduct in October, Ellsworth quit a teaching job he had just started at Highview Middle School in Mounds View.

The 'if it happened after the semester ended then it's okay' argument is one made by countless graduate school teaching assistants each year in an effort to morally justify flings with students. We'll now see if it holds water in a court of law.

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Wawoodee
Wawoodee

Unfortunately the hammer came down today on Ellsworth, as he was found guilty of criminal sexual conduct. I understand why we have the law. And since the girl was returning to the school for her senior year the next fall, and Ellsworth was still a member of the faculty, there is an argument, albeit not a very strong one, that he was still in a position of authority over her, which would make the relationship illegal. The problem with some laws, and this one included, is that common sense is thrown out the window to adhere to the letter of the law. She was in a consensual relationship with the man, and still wants to be with him. Remove the "position of authority" angle, and she is of age with no criminal conduct applicable. She admitted to being the instigator of the relationship and the sexual activity. Only because her parents blew the whistle is this undeserving stain going on his record, not to mention whatever jail time or penalties he has to pay and the irreparable harm to his teaching career. The punishment already incurred, plus that which is yet to come during sentencing, most certainly does not fit the crime in this case.

Lancel
Lancel

QADKKFJEEEE I like it very much!

pandoramn
pandoramn

I remember when I was in junior high school (30 years ago), the high school choir director was rumored to be having an inappropriate relationship with one of his students.  If I remember correctly, they were called in to the superintendent's office with her parents to discuss the situation.  Teacher and student admitted their feelings for one another and their intent to marry as soon as she graduated.  Her parents knew of the relationship and approved of their intention to get married, so the school district backed off.  They are still very happily married.  My point is, sometimes age is really just a number.  It does not sound as though this girl felt coerced at all.  I think there should be more of a 'case by case' review before throwing out someone who, by several accounts here alone, is a caring educator.  They are very hard to find - harder to keep.

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

Don't worry people, his tenure will protect his job and ability to collect his benefits and pension.

Ya, he probably wont ever "teach" again, but that doesn't mean he won't collect a paycheck.  Damn them unions are great!

Slim Pickens
Slim Pickens

I doubt he is still getting a paycheck, Jerk. If you read closely, he worked at a charter school and it was his first year of teaching. That means no tenure. And doubtfully a union.

I would read the story more closely and perhaps get all the facts before givnig a general speculation on what is really going on.

YVONNE
YVONNE

Their hookup sounds like one of the more supportive relationships I've heard of recently.  Allow these two creatures of gods good earth to explore each other in a natural way.

A friend
A friend

I wait on this guy all the time at the restaurant that I work at he is one of the nicest people that I have ever waited on, anyone who works in the service industry knows that people like him aren't easy to find. I'm a senior in college and have been waiting on him since I was 18, and never once have I felt scared of him, or thought that he acted in an inappropriate manner, and being a young fairly attractive lady I'm pretty tentative when it comes to strange men, and put my guard up faster than anyone I know.  In fact I remember quite distinctly him chatting with me about a recent break up and he told me that I would find someone and that I was still young.  He told me about his students how he wouldn't even allow them to be his facebook friend until a year after they graduated, he was so proud of them and he taught them things like text based computer games, does that sound like a predator to you, or someone who made a mistake?

Jp2001mn
Jp2001mn

Typical victim and perp thinking.

Fred
Fred

Why don't you want these two to have some fun?

Lando
Lando

Teacher of the year!

The mental gymnastics these people go through to justify abusing a position of authority is astounding. If you are texting a student, or ASKING THEM TO COME TO YOUR HOUSE, you are a terrible teacher and should not have that position. He should not be allowed anywhere near a school.

Slim Pickens
Slim Pickens

From what I understand, after reading several articles, is that he was no longer a teacher and, more importantly, no longer HER teacher.

People keep referring to him as her "teacher" when it seems to me that he actually was not. Hence, he was no longer in a position of authority, which is what the case is actually based on.

Taylorgreer5
Taylorgreer5

Ellsworth was her mentor for her senior project for which she had to check in with him periodically over the summer. Yes, he was in a position of authority over her whether or not he intended to return to the school. As he was still employed at the school and as he was her mentor when they began sexual intercourse, he broke the law.

Slim Pickens
Slim Pickens

That is new information here, Taylor. Or anywhere for that matter.

That kind of information (attending employee meetings?!?) which has not been published by any media, leads me to believe you work closely with the school. Of course, this is admittedly pure speculation. But if it is true, I would perhaps think twice about divulging any more information (true or untrue) if you value your affiliation with the school. They may frown upon that.

Just helping you out.

Taylorgreer5
Taylorgreer5

Interesting. As far as I've understood, Ellsworth signed a letter of intent to continue employment at the school in May of 2011. Therefore, as he had not resigned and had not yet been fired, he was a current employee of the school participating in employee meetings and receiving employee communication from the school

Slim Pickens
Slim Pickens

Taylor, it sounds like you may know more details than the papers are disclosing. But your facts are wrong, I'm sorry to say.

As of the end of the school year, she changed her direction of her project and informed him she no longer needed his services as a mentor for that project.

It was also documented and submitted that senior project mentors are volunteers, not employees of the school.

He was no longer an employee as of the end of May. No crime was committed here.

Know the facts.

Fred
Fred

What's up with this puritanical culture in which we live?  These two seem emotionally and sexually compatible and want to enjoy each other.  I see no harm.

amiller92
amiller92

I went to Highview.  It's in New Brighton, although it's part of the Mounds View School District (which covers multiple cities).

Gail
Gail

Let the two have some fun, for cryin' out loud.

Dtbruning
Dtbruning

(e) the complainant is at least 16 but less than 18 years of age and the actor is more than 48 months older than the complainant and in a position of authority over the complainant, and uses this authority to cause or induce the complainant to submit. Neither mistake as to the complainant's age nor consent to the act by the complainant is a defense;

Civilproblem
Civilproblem

 This has nothing to do with the age laws but to do with having a position of authority over the child.

Disgusting sure, but civil not criminal.

I would feel that the position of authority is still held over the summer if she is attending the school in the fall regardless if he teaches a class to her specifically, he is still part of the faculty.

I might not like the ruling but glad that he was able to get his day in court and challenge it.

Joshua
Joshua

Per the law, I don't know how they could convict him.-He was not in a position of authority at the time of the incident-He was not going to be in a position of authority in the future (working at a different school)-He did not (according to the student) use his nonexistent authority to cause or induce the student to engage in sexual behavior. 

The only things he's guilty of are lust and stupidity. 

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

Wait on minute, don't teachers claim they work year round when you refer to their pay for 9 months of work?

So you're a teacher huh?I say that because I see you browse and comment on sites that only someone evolved with the education system would do.

Yep, protect your own....

ko
ko

*cough* Bullshit! *cough*

Fred
Fred

Unfortunately, we have to use technicalities of the law to subvert injustice.

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