TRUMBULL, Conn. (WTNH)– A seventh-grade teacher in Wilton, who also teaches at Sacred Heart University, was arrested after being caught with a 14-year-old boy Wednesday night. Police say the two met through an online dating app.
Parents were shocked to hear the news that the beloved teacher, 37-year-old Timothy Leonard was arrested for sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor.
“Everyone’s mad, hurt, sad,” said Diane McDermott, whose two sons Leonard taught. “You got boys calling home to their moms crying, running into the bathroom crying because they’re in total disbelief.”
McDermott’s two sons both adored Leonard, calling him a mentor and always available for help. Everyone is left conflicted, searching for answers.
“We’re like ‘holy cow how can this be?’ Then you have to be 18 to be on these sites, so maybe,” McDermott said. “But then there’s a part of you that says ‘good gosh he’s with 14-year-old kids, he knows what a 14-year-old boy looks like.'”
Trumbull police say they caught Leonard inside a car parked in a secluded area of the Bow Tie Cinema Wednesday night.
“He approached the car, started interviewing the two in vehicle,” said Lt. Leonard Scinto, Trumbull police. “He characterized them as being very nervous and looked into it a little further.”
Leonard claims he thought the boy was 18 and of age, something the policeman wasn’t buying.
“It was obvious to the officer that the 14-year-old was not telling the truth,” Lt. Scinto said. ” He said he looked a lot younger, which is what prompted him to ask more questions.”
School officials in Wilton acted quickly, removing Leonard from class and activating their crisis team on the Middlebrook School’s campus.
“Incredibly shocking news,” said Superintendent Kevin Smith. “He’s somebody who’s been in community for a long time. It’s very disturbing, our first responsibility is to protect children.”
Leonard posted $10,000 bond. He’s suspended with pay as the investigation continues.