A first-grade teacher at Fontenelle Elementary School sexually assaulted a student multiple times, Omaha police said, and they believe that he sexually assaulted other students.
Gregory I. Sedlacek, 30, was booked into the Douglas County Jail Monday night on suspicion of first-degree sexual assault.
The arrest stems from a Nov. 20 complaint by Fontenelle teachers to the Nebraska child abuse hotline. The teachers said they saw “inappropriate contact” that day between Sedlacek and a first-grade girl on the school playground, said Lt. Tracy Scherer.
Sedlacek was placed on administrative leave that day, “immediately following reported concerns,” said Monique Farmer, a spokeswoman for Omaha Public Schools.
Omaha police did not begin their investigation until Nov. 27 — the same day OPS told officers there was security camera video of the inappropriate contact.
Calls to the hotline are reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency, in this case the Omaha Police Department. Scherer said that while the initial hotline complaint was credible, it alone did not alert police that the inappropriate contact was a criminal offense.
After viewing the video, detectives believed that there was a criminal violation and arranged to interview the 7-year-old girl.
Scherer did not detail the nature of the alleged playground assault. First-degree sexual assault involves penetration.
Scherer said an interview with Sedlacek revealed that the girl may have been assaulted more than once. Authorities believe that Sedlacek targeted other students, according to his interview. Sedlacek had taught at the school for three years.
The girl’s mother declined to comment Tuesday.
Principal Eric Nelson sent a letter to parents and guardians of students Monday night explaining that the school at 3905 N. 52nd St. is taking the allegations seriously. Nelson said that anyone with questions should call the school at 402-457-5905.
Parents or guardians with children who may have been abused can call police or the Nebraska child abuse hotline at 1-800-652-1999.
Project Harmony advised adults to ask children open-ended questions to seek more information on whether their child has been abused.
“How they react to their child is going to make all the difference in how their child responds,” said Colleen Roth, the senior director of response services at Project Harmony. “Most of the time, children are not even aware that abuse has occurred.”
Project Harmony support staff are available to help parents and any children who have been abused and can be reached at 402-595-1326.