Prosecution to present evidence against Summit Middle School teacher facing sex assault charges
With two lawyers on either side, a former Summit Middle School teacher sat in court for his first appearance Thursday after he was accused of sexually assaulting seven students.
His party filed for a preliminary hearing, meaning prosecutors from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office will have to bring forward witnesses and demonstrate probable cause at their next court date on Sept. 27.
Leonard Alan Grams, 61, was arrested Aug. 9 on five felony counts of sex assault on a child, carrying a possible penalty of two to eight years per count, and three felony counts of sex assault on a child by a person of trust, carrying a possible penalty of four to 16 years per count, according to court records and state law. Other factors could reportedly increase or decrease the sentences, up to possible life imprisonment.
Grams was placed on paid administrative leave Oct. 18, 2021, according to the affidavit, although an official letter of administrative leave was not delivered until Oct. 28, 2021.
The arrest came following an investigation by the school district and an eight-month investigation by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. In the affidavit, seven students’ accounts are detailed, alleging inappropriate touching and among other claims.
Grams’ counsel requested the court amend the terms of Grams’ bond so he did not need to report each day. The court granted his counsel’s request, allowing him to only report four times per week. Grams’ lawyers cited in their request his high bond, which was set at $25,000, and his cooperation with authorities throughout the investigation as justification for the reduction in reporting requirements.
Grams will also have to turn in his passport and may not file for a new one.
In addition, Grams’ lawyer said he was concerned about being recognized each time he goes out for his daily check-in and having a “negative interaction” with someone due to media coverage of the case.
Prosecutors argued the weight of the charges was too great — since a guilty verdict could mean life in prison — thus creating a flight risk, despite the high bond and Grams’ cooperation. Judge Karen Romeo listened but ultimately said, weighing all factors, the daily requirement did not seem appropriate.
Prosecutor Lauren Crisera said the prosecution would work with the defense on a statement regarding “potential additional victims.”
Summit County School District’s new superintendent, Tony Byrd, released a statement to parents about a week after the arrest. In the video statement, Byrd said he will require an audit of the district’s human resources processes and that all employees will be required to complete mandatory reporting training. He also reiterated the district’s commitment to student safety.
School district officials conducted the initial investigation from Sept. 30, 2021, to Oct. 24, 2021. Students spoke with the school principal, the head of human resources and school counselors during the investigation, and school officials spoke with Grams and parents of the alleged victims.
Under Colorado law, school staff are considered mandatory reporters and required to immediately report suspected child abuse or neglect if they determine there is a reasonable cause.
Law enforcement officials were contacted Oct. 27, and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office subsequently conducted its own lengthy investigation.
Investigators spoke with the students, gathered recordings of their interviews with school officials, gathered documents from Grams’ performance reviews and other documents related to the students’ school performance and history.
Among the students’ claims, they said he ran his hands through their hair, grabbed intimate parts of their bodies, stared at intimate parts of their bodies and commented on their clothing and appearance, according to the affidavit supporting the charges.
One mother claimed she was told by the school district that “(her daughter) was lying because she got a bad grade in class,” the investigator’s report in the affidavit reads. According the affidavit in support of arrest, both teachers and parents told investigators the alleged victims may be lying.
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