An elementary schoolteacher and his partner engaged in ongoing sexual contact with eight underage boys over several years and then killed themselves when discovered, according to documents released by police in South St. Paul Minnesota Tuesday.
South St. Paul police have wrapped up their four-month investigation into 4th-grade teacher Aric Babbitt and Matthew Deyo last week, filing a redacted 134-page case report detailing illegal sexual activity including “anal sexual intercourse” between the two men and a number of schoolboys.
Police were tipped off by a 16-year-old boy and his parents who reported “an ongoing sexual relationship” with Babbitt and Deyo. The boy told police that Babbitt had been his former elementary school teacher, and that Babbitt had agreed to mentor him when he came out as gay to his family. He said that Babbitt gave him gifts of underwear and yoga shorts and also requested photos of him, before moving on to sexual activity.
After obtaining a search warrant regarding criminal sexual conduct and possession of child pornography for Babbitt and Deyo’s residence, police searched the house and confiscated several computers, phones, tablets, cameras, and hard drives.
Investigators were able to identify a number of other victims through photos and videos on the media devices that belonged to Babbitt and Deyo, including a hidden camera they had installed in a bathroom lock. Other victims came forward on their own accusing the couple of abuse after the investigation became public.
Police approached one victim after discovering a video of the boy being touched by Babbitt and Deyo while they played video games at the Deyo family farm. In other videos, Babbitt filmed himself masturbating in a school bathroom or in his empty classroom, near a student’s desk.
The men would often provide the boys with alcohol and marijuana prior to sexual activity, the police report showed, warning their victims to keep their activity secret.
Babbitt, 40, and Deyo, 36, were found dead in Washington state late last August in what is being described as a “murder-suicide,” eight days after the police investigation began. A local coroner in San Juan County determined that Deyo had shot Babbitt in the head with a shotgun before turning the gun on himself the evening of Aug. 24.
In their suicide note, Babbitt and Deyo said that the accusations were “too great to overcome,” and so they had decided to leave their lives behind and “choose our own destinies rather than experience the embarrassment, ridicule, hatred, and inevitable loss of freedom that the justice system would give.”
The couple left a note on the dashboard of their station wagon saying they had had the “vacation of a lifetime” on Lopez Island and that it “brought great peace to end (their lives) on Lopez,” according to the police report.
“This is a terrible tragedy for everyone involved,” South St. Paul police Cmdr. Phil Oeffling said Tuesday. He said with the case now closed, and that the department would not offer further comment.
South St. Paul schools Superintendent Dave Webb acknowledged the end of the police investigation and said the district would continue to provide grief and mental health counseling for any staff and students in need.
According to local media, the South St. Paul school district anticipates lawsuits over the teacher sex-abuse allegations.
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