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Child Sexual Abuse Charges Against Robert Semple Elementary School Teacher, Matthew J. Shelton
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Benecia, CA – A local elementary school teacher recently charged with multiple felonies for alleged sexual acts involving a student was previously arrested and acquitted for similar crimes in Napa County more than a decade ago, according to public records and sources familiar with the investigation.

CA Elementary School Teacher Charged With Sexual Abuse

Matthew Joseph Shelton, 42, a fifth-grade teacher at Robert Semple Elementary School, faces five felony counts of lewd acts with a child under 14 years old. The charges stem from incidents in 2022 involving a student at the school where Shelton had taught since 2015.

Records indicate Shelton also previously worked as a substitute teacher for the Benicia Unified School District. As of the 2023-24 school year, he is no longer employed by the district.

Prior Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse Against Shelton

In 2007, during his tenure with the Napa Unified School District, Shelton was arrested for alleged inappropriate touching of four female students aged 8 and 9 at Phillips Edison Elementary School, where he taught third grade.

After a six-day trial in 2008, a jury acquitted Shelton of six counts of child molestation. His attorney argued the students’ stories were fabricated and inconsistent.

District’s Response to Teacher’s Sexual Abuse Charges

Benicia Superintendent Damon Wright did not respond to inquiries about whether the district knew of Shelton’s prior arrest when hiring him. In an email to staff and parents Tuesday, Wright stated the district placed Shelton on leave last year after parent concerns about his behavior. An investigation led to Shelton’s departure and a law enforcement probe.

Wright urged anyone with information to contact the District Attorney’s Office, stating, “Working with children is a profound privilege and responsibility, and we hold our employees to expectations of professional conduct.”

Legal Perspective on School Sexual Abuse Cases

When allegations of sexual abuse by teachers or staff members surface, victims and their families often have questions about their legal rights and options for taking action. In this interview, we discuss the avenues available to hold perpetrators and negligent school districts accountable with Mike Pfau, an attorney experienced in representing victims of sexual abuse in California schools.

Attorney Laurence Banville: Thank you for joining us today. What legal rights do victims have in situations like this?

Mike Pfau, Child Sexual Abuse Attorney: Victims of sexual abuse by teachers or other school staff have the right to pursue civil lawsuits against both the perpetrator and the school district. Schools have a special duty to protect students and can be held liable for negligence in hiring, supervision, or failure to report suspected abuse.

Banville: How can victims and families hold negligent school districts accountable?

Pfau: Civil lawsuits allow victims to obtain justice and compensation for the immense harm caused by sexual abuse. Damages can cover costs like therapy, counseling, and other losses. Lawsuits also incentivize change by forcing districts to implement proper safeguards.

Banville: What’s the process like for victims taking legal action?

Pfau: The first step is consulting an experienced attorney to understand your rights and options. Many cases are filed confidentially to protect victims’ privacy. With the right legal team, the process can provide validation, closure, and deterrence of future abuse.

Get Justice and Compensation with Our Help

No child should have to endure the trauma of sexual abuse, especially by someone in a position of trust, like a teacher. If you or a loved one is a victim of sexual misconduct by a school employee, remember that you have legal rights and options to get justice. Our experienced team is here to guide victims through the process of taking legal action with compassion and discretion. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation on how we can help hold abusers and negligent institutions accountable.


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