Winnetonka High School’s principal was charged Wednesday with two counts of statutory rape for allegedly having sex with a high school cheerleader over a period of several months nearly two decades ago.
Matthew C. Lindsey, 48, of Oak Grove, is accused by Ray County prosecutors of having sex with the student while serving as the basketball coach at Richmond High School in Richmond, Mo.
The sexual encounters allegedly occurred between October 1997 and May 1998.
Lindsey, who has been principal for 10 years, was placed on administrative leave from the North Kansas City School District and will not return to campus, according to a district spokeswoman.
“Today, we were made aware of charges filed against Mr. Matt Lindsey relating to actions that allegedly occurred in 1997 or 1998, prior to his employment with North Kansas City Schools,” Susan Hiland said in the written statement sent to students.
Hiland said school officials are cooperating with investigators and take all reports of alleged wrongdoing very seriously.
Lindsey could not immediately be reached for comment. Prosecutor Camille Johnston said Wednesday that Lindsey was in custody.
Court documents did not say what prompted the victim to come forward. Johnston said she did not know how the investigation started or how investigators who are part of a task force learned about the encounters.
“To me it is important that kids are protected,” Johnston said. “So if this happened 20 years ago, it could possibly be happening now. I just want to make sure that our schools are safe, so that is why I went ahead and prosecuted it at this point.
“I feel strongly (about) protecting children, even if they are not in our county now,” she said.
According to court records:
The victim told investigators she got to know Lindsey while she was a cheerleader for the school’s basketball team. Lindsey was the basketball coach. The two sat next to each other during bus rides to and from basketball games.
The girl said she was 16 years old when she and Lindsey started to have a sexual relationship. The two allegedly had 20 sexual encounters. Most of the encounters reportedly took place at Lindsey’s home in Richmond and several times at the Lexington Inn Hotel in Lafayette County.
Lindsey brought the girl gifts and gave her money, according to court records. The relationship allegedly became sexual after Lindsey asked the victim if she did “deliveries” while she worked at Pizza Hut. When the girl turned 17, Lindsey gave her money to buy a dress, court documents said.
The victim later told a friend about her encounters with Lindsey. Investigators interviewed a friend of the victim on Nov. 16. The friend reportedly said she gave the victim rides to Lindsey’s house. On at least two occasions, the friend told investigators, she dropped off the victim on the street where Lindsey lived. The victim would then walk to Lindsey’s residence because she did not want the friend’s car to be parked outside the house.
Lindsey was an assistant principal in Richmond before joining the North Kansas City School District.
In 2015, Lindsey accepted a four-year term as a board member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Lindsey represents a region that covers Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.
The Greater Kansas City Missouri Principals Association named Lindsey principal of the year in 2015.