Former Western school teacher chargedBy Sheldon C. Good Mennonite Weekly Review
A former teacher at Western Mennonite School in Salem, Ore., was arrested Feb. 14 and faces charges of sexually abusing a 16-year-old female student.
School officials learned of the allegations Feb. 13 and suspended the teacher, Matthew David Yoder, that day. He was terminated Feb. 14.
Yoder, 29, was charged Feb. 15 with five counts of second-degree sexual abuse and one count each of third-degree rape, third-degree sodomy and coercion. All the charges are Class C felonies.
Most of the alleged abuse, which began in summer 2010 and continued through fall 2011, took place at Yoder’s residence in McMinnville, police said.
Yoder was in his fourth year of teaching social studies at Western.
On Feb. 13, officials at the school, which serves 237 students in grades six through 12, notified the Oregon Department of Human Services, which then notified the police of the accusations from the student.
The school sent an email to parents, donors and alumni Feb. 14.
“Many people are hurting because of this situation, and we would request your prayers for everyone involved,” the email said.
Many students learned of the situation and of Yoder’s termination at a special chapel Feb. 15.
“We showed a paper with a dozen of so faces that show emotions, trying to get students to think of their emotions,” said principal Darrel Camp. “Students were angry and surprised. We’re beginning to start restoration and healing.”
He said the students will have continuing support and counseling as needed.
“We need to be flexible and meet the needs of the kids as they work through this,” Camp said.
Yoder was freed after posting $5,000 bail. A preliminary hearing was held Feb. 22.
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