Ex-Stevens Math Teacher Pleads Guilty in Sex Assault of Student
Former Stevens High School math teacher Christopher LeBlanc, left, at the end of his court hearing in Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport, N.H., on May 9, 2014. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
In Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport, N.H., Christopher LeBlanc listens while his victim reads a statement in court on May 9, 2014. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Newport — Former Stevens High School math teacher Christopher LeBlanc will serve three-and-a-half to seven years in New Hampshire State Prison after pleading guilty Friday to felonious sexual assault and aggravated felonious sexual assault of a 14-year-old student of the school.
LeBlanc, 29, quietly answered “yes” to a long list of questions from Sullivan County Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker on the negotiated plea agreement reached with Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway.
LeBlanc said he fully understood the charges against him and responded “guilty” when asked by Tucker how he pleaded on each count.
Hathaway said the plea agreement, which was supported by the victim’s family, sends “a strong message” to LeBlanc and others in a position of trust.
“We also think the sentence allows the family of this young girl, this strong young lady, to move on,” Hathaway said. “Both she and her family expressed a desire to move forward, and that is part of the reason for the sentence structure.”
Hathaway said the sentence and conditions will ensure that LeBlanc is evaluated in state prison and receives appropriate treatment. He will not be released until the end of the sentence if he is not capable of being reintegrated into the community, Hathaway said.
The victim and her mother spoke in court, addressing their remarks to LeBlanc, though not looking at him. The Valley News does not generally identify victims of sex crimes.
Victim Speaks in Court
The victim read a statement in court. Speaking quietly, she said LeBlanc took her “childhood” but that his sentencing and imprisonment would allow her to begin putting his actions behind her.
“I will no longer allow you to have control over my life because it is time to move on,” she said.
Her mother described her daughter as an “intelligent and incredibly strong girl” who was “social, outgoing, fun-loving and, most importantly, trusting (but is now) forever changed in the way she views people around her — p e ople like her family and close friends.”
She said her daughter has shown amazing strength throughout the ordeal and that LeBlanc’s actions have hurt many people.
“You have consistently put your own needs and desires ahead of those of your family, your wife and your son and, most importantly in this case, our daughter, who you profess to care about.”
She also said she and her husband support the sentence agreement and “by doing so we hope our daughter and family have the necessary time to recover and heal and that future families and children don’t ever have to go through the pain you put us through.”
LeBlanc was initially charged with four counts of felonious sexual assault and later indicted on one count of felonious sexual assault and one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault. Hathaway said outside the courtroom that the aggravated felonious sexual assault stemmed from a “pattern” of behavior by LeBlanc.
LeBlanc will begin immediately serving the three-and-a-half to seven-year sentence for felonious sexual assault. On the charge of aggravated felonious sexual assault, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years, LeBlanc was given a five- to 15-year suspended sentence.
The 15-year sentence “hanging over his head” will serve to ensure the defendant does not have any other victims, Hathaway said.
The sentencing agreement has several conditions, including that LeBlanc have no contact with the victim or her family, that he surrender his teaching certificate and that he have no contact with anyone under 16 except for members of his immediate family.
He is also prohibited from going on any primary or secondary school property and must undergo sex offender treatment as recommended by the Department of Corrections. He also must register as a sex offender.
According to court documents, LeBlanc’s relationship with the student started soon after he began his first year of teaching at Stevens in September and continued up until his arrest in March. He resigned from the school district shortly after his arrest.
Police began investigating LeBlanc after Stevens Assistant Principal Chris Beeso spoke to the school resource officer about an internal investigation of a possible relationship between LeBlanc and a student. He was arrested a day later and suspended by the school district.
Subsequent investigations, including police interviews with the victim and her family, revealed that the sexual assaults occurred at different locations in the city, including once in a high school classroom.
It was also revealed that LeBlanc and the girl had exchanged thousands of text messages and emails in February and March. Those sent by LeBlanc included: “I was worried we got caught;” “Just say we talked a lot but just as friends;” “I am getting a lawyer. We shouldn’t message anymore if they have our texts.”
LeBlanc, who graduated from Kearsarge Regional High School, previously taught in Windsor, Lebanon and as a student teacher at Indian River School in Canaan. In a court hearing in early April, Hathaway said that a woman, now in her 20s, came forward after LeBlanc’s arrest with allegations of inappropriate behavior by LeBlanc when she was 13 and a student at Indian River.
Though there was no physical contact, Hathaway said, the woman alleged that LeBlanc communicated with her in a “sexual way.”
In 2006, LeBlanc pleaded guilty in federal court to selling stolen night-vision and laser equipment over the Internet. He was given a two-year suspended sentence.
George “Skip” Campbell, LeBlanc’s attorney, said in court that his client immediately and completely accepted responsibility for his actions.
“He chose from the outset to not actively prolong events but get to an endpoint,” Campbell said. “He did this to spare any further pain.”
LeBlanc’s parents were in court but did not speak and left when the hearing ended.
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .