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Published July 11, 2012, 06:30 PM

Former MN Teacher Gets Probation for Sex With Student

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A former high school English teacher in Elk River was sentenced Wednesday to five years of probation for a sexual relationship with a student who said she never wanted him prosecuted.

By: Associated Press,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A former high school English teacher in Elk River was sentenced Wednesday to five years of probation for a sexual relationship with a student who said she never wanted him prosecuted.

Matthew Ellsworth, 36, of St. Paul admitted having the relationship with a girl who was 17 at the time. At his sentencing in Ramsey County on a criminal sexual conduct charge, he said he and the girl "could not help falling in love."

"We could not control our feelings for each other," he said, and added: "I'm not a threat to anybody."

Judge Gary Bastian ordered Ellsworth to register as a predatory offender for at least 10 years. But he also dismissed a no-contact order between Ellsworth and his former student.

Ellsworth, 36, was not required to serve more than the one day he has spent in jail. If he follows the rules of his probation, the felony charge of criminal sexual conduct will be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Ellsworth and the girl, now 18, hugged in the courtroom after the hearing, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported (http://bit.ly/MiQ5wt ).

Anjelica Pentheros hadn't been identified in earlier news stories because of the nature of the charge, but asked that her name be disclosed now.

"I want everyone to know that this (prosecution) was not my choice," Pentheros, now 18, said. "I was not victimized."

She added, "I wish to be with him forever, and I don't care what it costs."

Ellsworth was convicted Feb. 21 of criminal sexual conduct after a trial in front of Bastian.

Pentheros was in Ellsworth's English classes at Spectrum High School in Elk River during her junior year, in fall 2010 and spring 2011. During the summer of 2011, their relationship became romantic, both testified at trial. They had sex in his St. Paul apartment.

Ellsworth said he had planned not to return to Spectrum in the fall, but he didn't resign; he was fired in August a day before police came to his apartment after being alerted by the girl's parents.

He had argued at trial that he wasn't in a position of authority over the girl because he wasn't her teacher any longer and wouldn't be again, but the judge disagreed.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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