Teacher Charged

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2001

WASILLA (AP) -- A Matanuska-Susitna Borough school teacher was charged Friday with sexually abusing a student, after telling her therapist of the incident, Alaska State Troopers said.

Rhonda Gildersleeve, 32, a teacher at Colony High School, faces a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree sexual abuse, according to charging documents. Gildersleeve told troopers she had a single encounter with a 16-year-old student Dec. 22 that involved inappropriate touching and masturbation at Finger Lake, off school grounds.

Gildersleeve told her therapist about the incident Jan. 10, according to charging documents. The therapist then called state Division of Family and Youth Services officials, who contacted troopers. Troopers reached Gildersleeve at her therapist's office and asked her to come to the station for an interview.

Sgt. Dennis Ponder, the officer who investigated the case, said he thought the teacher just felt compelled to confess.

School District officials learned of the incident after Gildersleeve told Colony High principal Bill Harlow.

Gildersleeve has worked for the district for three years and has an exemplary record, school officials said. If she is convicted, she will be dismissed, Mat-Su Borough School District Superintendent Pat Chesboro said.

Gildersleeve is to be arraigned Tuesday.

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