Ex-teacher gets decades in prison for child molestations
Monday, January 30, 2012 By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A former teacher at Tender Care Learning Center in Scott pleaded guilty to 13 cases involving child molestation and child pornography this morning in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
Matthew K. Byars, 26, was sentenced to 35 to 70 years in prison for his actions abusing 12 boys, ranging in age from 6 to 17 years old. He also must register for life as a sex offender.
The families of the boys agreed to the plea deal in part to end the case quickly and avoid having them testify.
"We made an offer that will not victimize these boys any further," said Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka....
According to Ms. Ditka, Mr. Byars molested seven boys he taught at Tender Care, met the cousin of a boy there who he also abused, and molested two other boys.
He befriended the boys at the daycare, as well as their families, and often took them on outings, organized pickup hockey games, brought them to his church and invited them to sleepovers at his home.
In some instances, the boys were fondled and photographed or recorded on video. In others, they were forced into sex acts or sexually assaulted, Ms. Ditka said....
Speaking briefly, Mr. Byars apologized.
"I do realize the affect of my actions on so many people," he said. "I truly am sorry."
Day care teacher gets 35 years for sexual assaults on 12 boys
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Scrawled across the page in all capital letters, written in the hand of a child, the statement read, "I HATE MATT."
Another boy, in blue ink, wrote to the judge, "I feel sad and lonely. But once I see the other kids, I'm not so lonely because I know I'm not the only one.
"But what's the worst is that every morning I wake up, I think of that."
They were two of 11 boys who sat in the jury box in Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel's courtroom Monday and listened as the prosecution listed each one's case, and the horrific things they had to endure at the hands of Matt Byars, a man they trusted.
In the middle of Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka's summary, one of those boys, who is now 9, shouted, "Find someone your own age, Matt," and fled the courtroom....
Mr. Byars, hired at Tender Care in 2007, pleaded guilty Monday to sexually abusing 12 boys, ranging in age from 6 to 17 years old, over a period of several years....
According to Ms. Ditka, Mr. Byars, 26, of the West End, sexually abused seven boys he taught at Tender Care, as well as the cousin of a boy who attended the center. He also abused four others.
He befriended the boys at the day care, as well as their families, and often took them on outings, organized pickup hockey games, brought them to his church and invited them to sleepovers at his home.
While at Tender Care, Ms. Ditka said, Mr. Byars would sometimes call boys out of line when they were going outside and have them stay back with him. In some instances, he assaulted them there.
In other cases, he took the boys to his home where he showed them pornography and photographed and recorded them on video performing sex acts. He also set up a video camera in his shower and recorded the boys while they washed.
Mr. Byars told them to "flex" their muscles when he photographed them, the prosecutor said.
In one instance, Mr. Byars made a boy engage in oral sex to let him play video games.
Police became aware of Mr. Byars' actions when the mother of one boy told her son "Mr. Matt" wanted to take him to the movies.
The woman explained the terror she saw in her son's eyes that day, and how the boy reacted to what she had said.
"It all makes sense now," she said. "How my son went from an open, caring, loving little boy to an angry, fearful and sad lost soul."
Her son had been having head- and stomachaches daily. She took him to doctors, and he was diagnosed with having anxiety.
"I blamed myself," she said.
As a single mother of two, she wondered if her son was jealous of his little brother, or was mad that she no longer read to him.
"My life will never be the same," she said.
All of the family members who spoke talked about betrayal and the loss of innocence.
"He has taught them hate. He has taught them fear," read one woman who is the grandmother of one victim and the great-aunt of another.
Another mother called Mr. Byars a "monster." She told the court that her son has only recently been able to cuddle with his own father after having been abused.
"[He] is having trouble learning how to trust men again, including his dad," she said.