Police in South St. Paul, Minnesota, have revealed that a homosexual elementary-school teacher and his “husband” sexually abused eight underage boys since at least 2013, according to a report released Tuesday.
Aric Babbitt, 40, and Matthew Deyo, 36, came to the attention of local authorities Aug. 14 after a 16-year-old former student of Babbitt’s revealed an “ongoing sexual relationship” with the two men to his parents, reported the St. Paul Pioneer Press. This week’s report was the culmination of a four-month investigation that revealed seven other victims of the married pair.
Babbitt and Deyo died 10 days later in a murder-suicide.
Babbitt, a teacher at Lincoln Center Elementary since 2002, was put on paid leave Aug. 17 after news of the allegations became public. Police collected a large amount of evidence from the pair’s home during an Aug. 16 search, including photos and videos on phones, computers and media devices. Secret video from a camera hidden in a bathroom clock also contained evidence of their crimes as well as clues that led to other victims.
The first accuser said Babbitt, his former elementary-school teacher, served as his volunteer-work supervisor and had become his mentor when he came out to his parents as homosexual. Babbit gave him gifts of underwear and yoga shorts and requested images of the boy before he turned 16. Following his birthday, the pair asked to take him to a jazz concert but instead took him to a Minneapolis hotel where they provided him with alcohol, marijuana and had unprotected sex with the teen. He was told to “keep this our little secret.”
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Other boys described being plied with alcohol and marijuana at Babbitt’s and Deyo’s home, Babbitt’s family cabin and Deyo’s parents’ farm before “it got weird.”
Videos show Babbitt filming himself masturbating in a school bathroom and in his empty classroom, near a student’s desk.
Text messages between the two men revealed the planning that went into their abuse of the boys.
Babbitt, referencing a boy staying overnight, texted Deyo: “Make sure the alarm clock [containing the hidden camera] ends up somewhere good. I was going to surprise (victim) with hot tub … in case it improves chances of skinny dip.”
In another text message, Deyo asked Babbitt, “Should I be expecting a scantily clad 40 yo and (victim) to give me some hugs and kisses this weekend? I just want to be able to hug and snuggle (victim) for a couple mins without (victim) feeling awkward.”
Babbitt responded by texting, “You just need to grab him and make (victim) sit on your lap every once in awhile.”
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Even as police were conducting their search of the pair’s home, Babbitt and Deyo were planning to flee the St. Paul area. On Aug. 16, the men drained their bank accounts, purchased $860 in camping gear on a credit card and went on the run.
The couple was found dead on Aug. 25 on a beach on Lopez Island in northwest Washington state, having died the previous day in a shotgun murder-suicide, ruled the local coroner. Deyo killed Babbitt before turning the weapon on himself, according to the report.
They left a note on the dashboard of their car describing their time on the run as the “vacation of a lifetime,” and saying it “brought great peace to end it on Lopez.”
A suicide note mailed to Deyo’s parents said that some would characterize the pair as monsters, but they were not. Calling the accusations against them “too great to overcome,” it said they had decided to “choose our own destinies rather than experience the embarrassment, ridicule, hatred and inevitable loss of freedom that the justice system would give.”
South St. Paul schools Superintendent Dave Webb said Tuesday that the district is providing grief and mental-health counseling for students and staff, as well as offering training for staff on trauma, mental health and early warning signs related to sexual abuse.
“As a school district, we strive to provide a safe and secure learning environment for our students,” Webb said.