GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. (AP) -- Prosecutors charged a suburban Kansas City elementary school teacher with molesting four young boys, and police have called on the parents of other students he has taught or coached to come forward if they also suspect abuse.
Matthew J. Nelson, who has taught at Prairie Branch Elementary School in Grain Valley for several years, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to one count of first-degree child molestation and three counts of first-degree statutory sodomy and was being held Thursday at the Jackson County jail on $250,000 cash bond. As of Thursday, online court records did not list an attorney for him.
In court documents, prosecutors allege that Nelson, 33, molested the four boys, ages 7 to 9, at the elementary school between Aug. 1, 2010 and Jan. 6 of this year, the Kansas City Star reported.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said the boys' parents called Grain Valley police this month after their sons accused Nelson of touching them inappropriately. The boys said Nelson touched their private areas through their clothes or directly while they were in his classroom, including during movie times or reading periods, according to court records.
Nelson has been a teacher for a little more than 10 years, Grain Valley police chief Aaron Ambrose said. In addition to teaching, Nelson coached soccer at Grain Valley High School. He was placed on administrative leave last week.
"We think there may be other potential victims out there," Ambrose said. "If there are, we encourage them to come forward, either to the Grain Valley police, the sheriff's office or the school district."
Nelson's former fiance, Susanna Kay Eubank, told the newspaper she was shocked.
"Kind of like everybody else, I am just at a loss for words," said Eubank, who didn't end up marrying Nelson.
"I would like to say that Matt is a very down-to-earth person, very caring, and would do anything for anybody," she said.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com