Man punched boy repeatedly after propositioning him in school bathroom, police say

Suspect, 21, held on $1 million bail in attack at Holabird Middle

December 17, 2010|By Nick Madigan and Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun

The 21-year-old man accused of attacking a seventh-grader inside a Dundalk middle-school bathroom this week stuck a sock in the student's mouth, punched him in the face, neck and chest, and attempted to sexually assault him, according to court documents released Friday.

Sean Thomas Schleigh, who has a history of arrests on theft, trespassing and drug offenses, was charged with two counts of attempted second-degree sex offense, second-degree assault, false imprisonment, resisting arrest and second-degree assault on a police officer.

Schleigh was incarcerated at the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson in lieu of $1 million bail after his arrest Thursday morning at Holabird Middle School.

"Help me! Help me! Someone help me!" the 12-year-old boy screamed during the attack, according to a police officer assigned to the school, who heard the commotion from her office nearby. The officer, identified in a court document only by her last name, Pruett, ran toward the boys' restroom and was told by a secretary outside that there was "a man behind the door."

At that moment, Schleigh "came running out of the bathroom," ignored orders to stop and ran into the officer, "trying to push his way around her by using physical force," according to a probable-cause affidavit. Pruett was able to overcome the 5-foot-8-inch-tall, 145-pound man and arrest him after a brief struggle, the document said.

Under questioning by police, Schleigh "confessed that he really wanted to have sex with the boy" and described the acts he would have committed, according to the affidavit. Schleigh said he picked that boy in particular because he liked the fact that the child was "small and blond," the document said.

Once in the boys' restroom, Schleigh briefly spoke with a boy who entered — "I'm waiting for my little brother Jack," he told him — and appeared to ignore another, finally settling on the third to proposition with a crude sexual remark, according to the document. When the boy refused to show him his private parts, the affidavit said, Schleigh began punching him and stuffed a blue sock into his mouth.

"He spit the object out and then was able to fight back and break free of Mr. Schleigh after struggling for some time," the document said. At one point, it went on, the assailant tried to drag the boy into a stall. The boy "was punching Mr. Schleigh in the face in an attempt to get away from him," and when the boy fell on the floor, his assailant "kicked him between his legs."

As the boy tried to crawl away, he told police, Schleigh grabbed his leg and pulled off one of his tennis shoes. Finally, he said, he was able to get up and flee from the restroom.

The boy suffered a cut lip in the attack, but it could not be ascertained whether he sustained other injuries. The document contradicts statements from officials on Thursday that the child was unharmed and that the incident had been resolved "very quickly."

The attack occurred shortly after students had arrived for the day's classes. According to the court document, Pruett, the police officer, had already encountered Schleigh earlier on his way into the school and assumed he was a student. Schleigh had been sitting outside the school about 7:35 a.m. "with his hood over his head and a red bag," the court document said. He told the officer that he was "waiting to go in."

Once inside, Schleigh was also stopped in a hallway by a teacher and was directed to the administration office to check in. The teacher saw him walk toward the main office, but Schleigh apparently did not enter that room or register with the staff there, said Charles Herndon, a spokesman for the Baltimore County schools.

On Friday, parents picking up their children from Holabird said they were outraged that Schleigh had been able to make his way into the school and stay there long enough to attack a child. Doris Sidor, whose granddaughter is a sixth-grader there, said that Holabird is a good school and that the county police were great at patrolling, but that the incident had shaken her.

"I was very upset," Sidor said. "I just couldn't believe all this happened. I'm concerned for the children here, who want to be safe when they come to this place every day. I hope they find a way to have better supervision."

Four police officers were stationed outside Holabird on Friday afternoon, which gave some solace to Gary Komoch, whose daughter is in seventh grade with the victim. "This is great and everything," Komoch said, motioning toward the increased police presence. "But everyone wants to do something now, when it's already happened. Where were they yesterday?"

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