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Teacher charged with sexually assaulting 14-year-old Trumbull boy

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TRUMBULL – A  popular and well-respected Wilton middle school teacher was arrested on sexual assault charges Tuesday evening.

Trumbull Police said Timothy Leonard, 37, of Southbury, was found with a 14-year-old Trumbull boy in the parking lot of the Bow Tie Cienma in Trumbull around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday evening.

Police said the two both appeared to be nervous when a patrol officer approached the Jeep Cherokee, which was parked in a secluded area off of the cinema parking lot on Quarry Road.

Leonard’s passenger initially told the officer that he was 18, but appeared much younger,  Scinto said. “During the course of speaking to the pair it was determined that they had engaged in intimate contact while parked in the vehicle.”

In reality, the boy is 14.
"To the officer, he said it was obvious that he was not 18 years old, that's why he continued his investigation and ultimately determined he was 14," said Trumbull Police spokesperson Lt. Leonard Scinto.

Leonard was charged with risk of injury to a minor and sexual assault in the fourth degree and posted a $10,000 bond.

Leonard is also an adjunct instructor for graduate students at Sacred Heart University.  He has been at the university since 2008 and was suspended immediately without pay, according to spokeswoman Funda Alp Wednesday morning.

Wilton School Superintendent Kevin J. Smith wrote in a letter posted to the district website that the news came as an incredible shock to the entire school community.

He said Timothy “T.J.” Leonard has worked in Wilton for many years and had developed a very positive reputation as a teacher.

"The sentiment is this is incredibly shocking news. He is someone who has been in the community, it's very disturbing," said Dr. Kevin Smith, superintendent of Wilton Public Schools.

Leonard told police that he met the victim through Grindr, an on-line dating app catered toward "gay, bi and curious men."  Leonard also told police he likes college-aged males, stating “that’s my thing,” according to the police report.
The suspect denied knowing that the victim was 14 and said that he’d never have gotten involved with him if he knew the boy was underage.
"I can't imagine.  There's never been anything, nobody ever got a creepy feeling from him ever," said Denise McDermott, a Wilton resident with two children who had Leonard as a middle school teacher.
McDermott  says her children, now in high school, would email Leonard for advice and help on school projects long after he was their teacher. "He is respected amongst his peers, adored and idolized among the children, it's actually shocking," McDermott said.
Police also said investigators seized Leonard's phone and laptop as part of the investigation.

Dr. Smith added that the school’s mental health staff has been mobilized to create a support plan for students, families and staff members and said people who need support can call 203-762-8388.