Mount Vernon Board of Education

The Mount Vernon City Schools Central Office is located at 300 Newark Rd. in Mount Vernon.

MOUNT VERNON – The Mount Vernon Middle School physical education teacher charged with raping and sexually assaulting a 15-year-old female student in 2018 has been suspended from the school district without pay.

The Mount Vernon Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to suspend Andrew Walsh, who was charged last Thursday in Mount Vernon Municipal Court with allegedly raping a student in the fall of 2018.

Walsh, 36, has taught physical education at Mount Vernon Middle School for nine years, according to the school district's website. His alleged victim, now 16, came forward recently to the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

She told law enforcement officials that Walsh raped her in his office between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30, 2018, according to court documents. Walsh then allegedly sexually assaulted her while she was babysitting at his Morgan Township home between Sept. 26 and Oct. 31, 2018.

Walsh was released from the Knox County Jail on Friday, according to the sheriff's office, after his $100,000 bond was paid. Mount Vernon Municipal Court Judge John Thatcher allowed the release on the condition that Walsh would have no contact with Mount Vernon City Schools, no contact with the alleged victim or her family, and no contact with children under the age of 18, according to the court clerk's office.

Any violation of those conditions would result in Walsh's bond being revoked, the clerk's office said. He would be re-arrested and sent back to jail.

Walsh is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on July 30 at 3 p.m. He is being represented by Benjamin Luftman, an attorney with the Columbus-based law firm Luftman, Heck & Associates. Luftman recently filed a motion with the court to rescind the no-contact order for children under the age of 18, according to the clerk's office, so that Walsh could see his three children (all minors). Thatcher granted the motion on Monday.

Luftman had not returned a message from Knox Pages for comment at the time of publication.

Knox County Prosecutor Chip McConville expects a grand jury to hear Walsh's case by the end of the month. While he declined to discuss the nature of the evidence last week, he noted that the accusations against Walsh came to the attention of local law enforcement not through the accuser directly, but "from an intermediary." He declined to comment on whether or not the intermediary was associated with the school district.

Walsh is facing a minimum sentence of 3 to 11 years in prison for rape, McConville said Tuesday. Indefinite sentencing would allow for a maximum of 16.5 years. He is facing a minimum of 1 to 5 years for the sexual battery charge (tied to the second alleged incident), which McConville classified as a "high-tier" third-degree felony.

Pending an indictment and a conviction on both charges, a judge would decide whether to run these sentences concurrently or consecutively. Noting the charges stem from "at least two separate (alleged) incidents," McConville said a consecutive sentence is possible.

"But there are many bridges to cross before we get there," he added.

Walsh is one of Mount Vernon Middle School's two physical education teachers, according to the school's website.

Mount Vernon Superintendent Bill Seder said the district is not planning to replace Walsh in the immediate future. Mount Vernon's first day of school is Aug. 25.

"We are currently planning on fulfilling those responsibilities with current staff," Seder told Knox Pages in an email. "With so many uncertainties, we don't believe that hiring another staff member at this time is the prudent way to proceed.

"We will remain engaged and informed with regards to the Andrew Walsh situation, We will work closely with legal counsel and take appropriate action when necessary."

Seder said last week the district was "extremely disturbed" to hear of the allegations against Walsh, who has been teaching in the district for 13 years.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families involved during this most difficult time," Seder said.

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Staff Reporter

Grant is a 2018 graduate of Ohio Northern University, where he studied journalism and played basketball. He likes coffee, books and minor league baseball. He loves telling stories and has a passion for local news.