SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - South St. Paul police are investigating a grade school teacher and his husband for what appears to be child sexual abuse.
The victim in the case just sixteen years old --- and knew the suspect as his former teacher and trusted mentor. But, the suspects in the case can't be questioned; they were found dead in another state last Thursday.
The victim says he knew one of the suspects since grade school -- and when the teen told his family he was gay.... That former teacher – 40-year-old Aric Babbitt - agreed to mentor the teen. But that trust was clearly destroyed when the victim says the abuse began.
Apparently they had different views on the term 'mentoring'.
Deceased South St. Paul teacher, spouse investigated for child sexual abuse
Babbitt has been a teacher in the South St. Paul school district since 2002. He had most recently been teaching 4th grade at Lincoln Center Elementary School. Now, there are allegations that Babbitt and his husband, Matthew Deyo, sexually abused a 16-year-old boy who was a former student of Babbitt's.
The teen took his case to police. But -- one day after South St. Paul police executed a search warrant on the couple's home ---- the two were found dead on Lopez Island, north of Seattle, Wash. It was an apparent murder-suicide – with a note left behind.
All of this has been a lot to take in by neighbors in South St. Paul, who say the couple was very friendly.
“They would be in their backyard playing with their dogs or whatever; I'd be in the backyard grilling. You know I’d wave to them, say hi how you doing and sometimes we'd talk more from that, you know, and ask about each other's families,” Gerren Bond, one of Babbit and Deyo’s neighbors, said.
The search warrant shows the 16-year-old and his parents went to the police station to report the abuse earlier this month and also turned over nude photos the couple took of the teen. The alleged victim reports numerous occasions where Babbitt and Deyo gave him and a friend marijuana and alcohol to the point where they passed out, only to wake up with one or both of them having sex with them.
The South St. Paul school district put Babbitt on paid leave on Aug. 17, when they learned of the allegations. The district is also conducting its own investigation, while at the same time dealing with the grief.
“We welcomed new staff back, as well as veteran staff as well, and we brought in grief counselors to start that day yesterday, and spent the day here with us. We'll be doing the same as students return the day after Labor Day,” South St. Paul Public Schools superintendent Dave Webb said.
The application for the search warrant shows police were also looking for child pornography. Several computers, tablets and hard drives were confiscated, as well as a clock radio with a hidden camera that was taken from the bathroom of the home.
Despite the fact the couple is deceased, both police and the school district say their investigations into the child sexual abuse will continue.
JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — A man convicted of sexually abusing children learned his fate Wednesday in Jackson County Court.
38-year-old Shane Westbrook of Parma was sentenced to 25-50 years in prison.
Tara Sassenger spoke at the sentencing for Westbrook, saying he ruined her life.
“He ruined my childhood. He ruined my self-worth and my self-respect,” Sassenger said.
She’s one of three victims Westbrook is convicted of sexually abusing when they were young girls between 1999 and 2005.
Sassenger says Westbrook put her through immense torture.
“He would tell me that no one would ever believe me. And when I did try to talk about it, no one would believe a child over an adult,” Sassenger said.
Last year, Westbrook was charged with nine counts of criminal sexual conduct.
“I know I am innocent of what’s been charged against me,” Westbrook said in court.
But a jury didn’t think so and found him guilty last month.
“I am going to sentence you to 25-50 years in prison,” said Judge John McBain.
After coming forward to tell her story, Sassenger spoke with 6 News and says she’s happy with the sentence.
“I’m glad he’s getting what he deserves, and he’s going to spend at least the next 25 years back there,” Sassenger said. “I don’t think he feels anything. I think it was all a show. He had zero remorse for me or anyone else.”
During her victim impact statement, Sassenger repeatedly called Westbrook a monster.
And says she’s still dealing with this trauma as an adult.
“Monster is being nice,” Sassenger said.
As court adjourned, Westbrook’s attorney told the judge that they plan on appealing this sentence.
CLEAR LAKE | A Clear Lake man was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison Tuesday for a felony conviction of lascivious acts with a child.
Amando Montealvo, 58, originally charged with two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, was accused of abusing two girls under age 12 in Clear Lake 10 to 14 years ago.
One of the counts was reduced to lascivious acts with a child. He agreed to enter an Alford plea to that charge in Cerro Gordo County District Court.
In an Alford plea a defendant doesn’t admit to the crime but acknowledges prosecutors could likely prove the charge.
After he is released from prison, Montealvo will be under the supervision of the Department of Corrections for the rest of his life with the possibility of parole. He also must register as a sex offender.
A $1,000 fine was suspended.
-- Mary Pieper