Former Mat-Su teachers pleads no contest to sexual assault charge

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A former teacher at Colony High School in Wasilla pleaded no contest Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of fourth degree sexual assault of a minor.

Felony charges were dropped against Rhonda Gildersleeve, 33, who was accused of sexually abusing a student. Gildersleeve was arrested in January after telling her therapist that she and the boy, who was 16 at the time, had engaged in inappropriate touching.

Judge Sigurd Murphy sentenced Gildersleeve to a year in jail but suspended half of that time. Gildersleeve has been in jail since January, which means she can be released.

Gildersleeve also will have to pay restitution to the victim.

Meanwhile, the boy's father has filed a $2 million lawsuit against the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District.

The suit filed Friday in Superior Court in Palmer names Gildersleeve, as well as the Mat-Su School Board and school district, as defendants. It seeks damages for the boy's pain and suffering, his loss of enjoyment of life and exposure to possible premature fatherhood.

Gildersleeve, had faced felony counts of sexual abuse of a minor. The state agreed to drop those charges because of a lack of evidence she had sexual intercourse with the boy, Assistant District Attorney Rachel Gernat said. The former teacher also passed a polygraph test, the attorney said.

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