Former NH teacher’s trial postponed for sixth time in Massachusetts

Concord Monitor
Published: 12/18/2022 11:06:53 PM
Modified: 12/18/2022 11:04:10 PM

The criminal trial of former Concord teacher Howie Leung, which was scheduled to take place in January after multiple delays, has been rescheduled for a sixth time, pushing it back another nine months to September 2023.

The trial on charges of aggravated rape of a child, which is now scheduled for Sep. 6, 2023, is slated to take place four and a half years after his arrest in April 2019. Leung is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a former Concord student during the summers of 2015 and 2016 at the Fessenden Summer ELL Program in Newton, Mass., when she was 13 and 14 years old. He is being tried in Massachusetts because that is where some of the most serious crimes allegedly occurred.

While the trail has faced years-long delays, Leung remains free on bail, under conditions that require him to stay out of New Hampshire, except for medical appointments with 24-hours notice.

In a joint motion to reschedule that was filed in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, Massachusetts on Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Allison Brown and Leung’s defense attorney Ghazi Al-Marayati cited a combination of state personnel changes and new evidence to review as the reason for postponing.

The first issue they cited is that Brown, who took over the case from Assistant District Attorney Radu Brestyan in April 2021, is leaving her position mid-January. According to the motion, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Brant will be taking over the case, but “will not be ready to try the case on Jan. 17, 2023.”

The motion shows that Leung’s lawyer also wants more time to be able to review some new evidence, including a video interview with New Jersey police relating to new allegations, and records from therapists who have provided services to the former Concord student, Fabiana McLeod, who is now in her 20s. The Monitor doesn’t typically name victims of sexual abuse, unless they choose to be identified. McLeod came forward publicly in May 2021 while filing a civil lawsuit against the Fessenden School, saying at the time that she wanted to help protect others.

“Defense counsel needs more time to review these records and make determinations concerning trial witnesses, and, if necessary, to secure the attendance of witnesses potentially from multiple foreign states,” the motion reads.

McLeod also provided some new photo and video evidence to the Newton Police Department, according to the motion, which is still in the process of being transferred to the attorneys for review.

Nashua attorney Mark Rufo, who represents McLeod in New Hampshire, expressed dissatisfaction with the delays Friday.

“We feel it’s been going on for too long and there’s too much concern for the rights of the accused and not enough concern for the rights of the victim,” Rufo said.

This is the sixth time that Leung’s jury trial has been postponed in Massachusetts. Over the course of the last three years, since his arrest in April 2019, the trial has been rescheduled for a variety of reasons, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and also to allow more time for both parties to obtain records from each other, review documents, videos and photos that have been submitted as evidence, review allegations from the victim, and summon witnesses from out of state.

In addition to the two charges of aggravated rape of a child with a 10-year age difference, Leung faces two charges of aggravated indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14 and two counts of aggravated indecent assault and battery on a person age 14 or older. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Leung is accused of sexually assaulting his former student in and around Concord, as outlined in initial court documents filed here and a report from an independent investigation of the Concord School District. However, state and county prosecutors have not brought any sexual assault charges against Leung in New Hampshire, despite reports that abuses happened in the Granite State.

A Concord Police affidavit filed the day of Leung’s arrest says their investigation yielded reports of abuse in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The 2019 report drafted by independent investigator Djuna Perkins says Leung’s emails suggest the sexual assaults began in February 2015, four months before the Concord student crossed state lines to work at the Fessenden School in Massachusetts.

Merrimack County Attorney Paul Halvorsen declined in July to speak about why Leung has not been prosecuted in New Hampshire, citing an ongoing investigation.

Ongoing trial delays

April 3, 2019: Leung’s arrest 

June 8, 2020: Original proposed trial date (rescheduled to November 2020 due to the COVID-19 emergency) 

Nov. 10, 2020: Second proposed trial date (rescheduled to May 2020 due to the COVID-19 emergency)

May 4, 2021: Third proposed trial date (rescheduled to January 2022 to review evidence and obtain witness attendance)

Jan. 25, 2022: Fourth proposed trial date (rescheduled to June 2022 to review new evidence and allegations and due to the COVID-19 emergency)

June 22, 2022: Fifth proposed trial date (rescheduled to January 2023, motion to reschedule remains private)

Jan 17. 2023: Sixth proposed trial date (rescheduled to September 2023 due to a change in legal representation and to review new evidence)

Sept. 6, 2023: Seventh proposed trial date

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