Teacher faces sexual assault charges

Facing three separate allegations of sexual assault, a teacher in the New Haven Public Schools system was arrested last week.

Robert Schmitt, a special education teacher at the MicroSociety Magnet School in New Haven, was arrested on Wednesday, Sept. 11. The 48-year-old man from Hamden, Conn., was accused by three students of having touched them inappropriately, according to the New Haven Police Department. Schmitt was charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to a child and one count of third-degree assault.

“The safety and wellbeing of our students must be the absolute top priority for the school district and our staff. Children should feel safe in school and parents should feel safe sending their children to school,” said Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries. “We work hard every day to maintain safety and wellbeing and we act immediately to investigate any concerns brought to our attention.”

The accusations originated on April 29, 2013 when a social worker was informed of an incident of inappropriate touching by one of the victims — a 12-year-old-girl — and reported it to the school principal as well as the state Department of Children and Families. On that same day, Schmitt was suspended from the school before even the police were involved and has not had access to the facilities since then.

Soon after, a second victim came forward. On May 7, 2013, a 14-year-old girl told her father she had had a similar experience with the teacher. The man immediately called the school to inform them of this and the police received this information automatically.

Two days later, a third victim, this time a 12-year-old boy, met with the detectives in charge of the case.

“In this case, the principal acted immediately to remove the teacher once allegations were made,” Harries said. “We reported the incident, cooperated fully with DCF and police and are moving forward with termination proceedings.”

The MicroSociety Magnet School’s decision to pursue the teacher’s termination has been vehemently criticized by the accused’s lawyer, Diane Polan. She said she her client “should not be stripped of his reputation and livelihood based solely on unproven allegations.”

Sexual assault in the fourth degree is a class D felony.

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