Claremont teacher arraigned on sex assault charges - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Claremont teacher arraigned on sex assault charges

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Dressed in an orange prison suit, 29-year-old Christopher Leblanc appeared in a Sullivan County court via video conference.  He is being held in jail for lack of $250,000 bail -- accused of four counts of felony sexual assault on a minor.    

"That fact alone is sufficient to warrant the bail, and there are additional facts known to the investigating officers that would also suggest that this is appropriate," said Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway.

Leblanc taught math at Stevens High School.  Police say he began a relationship with the 14-year-old in the fall of 2013 after asking her to baby sit his child.  The girl told police the pair started as friends but the relationship turned into something more serious. Court papers show the girl's parents contacted the school after finding thousands of text messages and photos between Leblanc and their daughter on the teen's phone.

"My initial reaction after learning of this is great disappointment," said Claremont Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin.

The district immediately put Leblanc on administrative leave and contacted police.  The alleged victim told authorities that she and Leblanc had numerous sexual encounters, both in and outside the classroom.  Court papers show Leblanc directed his attention to the girl during class, and even rubbed her shoulders in front of other students. "We are very sensitive about providing a safe -- and when I say I mean emotionally and physically safe -- environment for students as well as faculty," McGoodwin said.

Leblanc only began working at the school last September, and the alleged relationship began shortly after. Police interviewed school staff, but they say it was the alleged victim's family coming forward that really helped investigators.

"Parents and the school district working together and having the freedom to communicate with each other will ensure that a safe school environment will be sustained," McGoodwin said.

An environment that has been tarnished by a teacher who police say abused a student he should have been looking out for.  

"The Claremont Police Department along with the school administration are in the process of assessing whether or not there are other victims, and we are just going to move forward in a very deliberate and professional fashion to determine what did happen and what didn't happen," Marc Hathaway said.

The entire arraignment only lasted a matter of minutes.  Leblanc did not enter a plea.  A probable cause hearing has been set for April 1st.

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