Elementary school teacher faces 55 charges over allegations he sexually abused children: ‘Skilled in grooming’

The teacher was arrested last month and is being held without bail until his trial

<p>Anne Arundel County Police Department</p>
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<p>Anne Arundel County Police Department</p>
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Anne Arundel County Police Department

An elementary school teacher accused of sexually assaulting his students was recently indicted by a federal grand jury in Maryland on dozens of charges.

Matthew Schlegel, 44, who worked as an elementary school teacher in Severna Park, Maryland, faces 55 charges of sexually abusing at least eight children under his supervision, according to documents obtained by CBS News, WBFF-TV and the Capital Gazette.

Schlegel was initially arrested at his home last month on 36 counts, including seven counts of child sexual abuse and 14 counts of fourth-degree sexual abuse, media reports said.

According to loading documents obtained by the Capital Gazettepolice launched an investigation in March 2024 into the alleged sexual abuse involving Schlegel and one of his female students at Severna Park Elementary School.

At least seven other students subsequently came forward with their own claims of abuse, which allegedly occurred between August 2022 and March 2024, often during school hours, authorities allege. As a result of the investigation, Schlegel was removed from the classroom on March 15.

The Anne Arundel District Attorney’s Office and Anne Arundel Public Schools did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

During a court hearing on May 28, a judge ruled Schlegel denied bail ahead of his trial, saying the “statement of facts, if true, is heinous,” according to WBFF-TV.

Peter O’Neill, the former teacher’s lawyer, argued in court that Schlegel should be granted bail, claiming he is not a flight risk because of his connections in the city. More than 30 people — including Schlegel’s wife and family members, friends and former students — attended Schlegel’s court hearing on his behalf, according to WBFF-TV and Capital Gazette.

However, prosecutors described the suspect as “cunning” and “adept at taking care of children,” according to media reports.

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A civil lawsuit has also been filed against Schlegel and the county school system, Anne Arundel Public Schools, by the families of the alleged victims, O’Neill told the newspaper. Capital Gazette.

Schlegel has been a teacher in Anne Arundel County Public Schools since 2008 and began teaching at Severna Park Elementary School in 2016, according to CBS News.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text “STRENGTH” to the crisis text line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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