Summit Middle School teacher pleads not guilty in sexual assault case involving student allegations
A Summit Middle School physical education teacher facing multiple sexual assault of a child charges pleaded not guilty Monday, Nov. 21.
Leonard Grams has maintained his innocence and denied allegations since he was arrested on Aug. 9 following an investigation by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office which looked into seven reports made by female students to Summit School District officials alleging sexual misconduct.
Grams faces five Class 4 felony charges of sexual assault on a child and three Class 3 felony charges of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, according to court records.
At an arraignment hearing Monday, all parties agreed to a two-week jury trial that is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. April 26, 2023.
Fifth Judicial District Judge Karen Romeo said 300 people will be summoned for jury selection, which is expected to last two days. Defense attorney Jake Lilly said he will need between two to three days to present his case. Deputy District Attorney Lauren Crisera said the prosecution’s case will take about 3.5 days.
Romeo said she wishes the trial could be set with more time before the defendant’s speedy trial period expires, which is a period of six months from the date a plea is entered, but due to the court’s docket, the length of the trial and the attorney’s schedules, the soonest available date was April 26.
“I don’t like that we are set up right before speedy, but I don’t see a way around that,” Romeo said.
The court also set a motions hearing for 9 a.m. March 2.
“That motions hearing date will likely be a plea cutoff date as well,” Romeo said to Grams. “… If we go to motions, we go to trial.”
“Understood,” Grams said.
Romeo also approved a request for out of state travel that will allow Grams to travel to Oklahoma City from Nov. 22-30 to visit family for the holidays, which was unopposed by prosecutors since Grams’ wife successfully completed a supervision class.
A motion that would allow contact with certain minors during the trip was expected to be filed by the defense Monday after the hearing. Romeo said she will issue her decision after reading the motion, which was unopposed by prosecutors.
The next court date will be a one-hour hearing on a motion for discovery filed by the defense, which involves arguments about evidence filed in the case. It is set for 1 p.m. Dec. 15.
Grams has been employed by Summit School District for 28 years.
In September 2021, school officials received allegations from female students, which continued until mid-October, according to an affidavit in support of an arrest warrant. School officials conducted their own investigation starting on Oct. 18, 2021, before alerting law enforcement.
The first complaint was made on Sept. 30, 2021, alleging inappropriate contact during class. A second similar complaint was made in an email on Oct. 15, 2021, by a second student. A third complaint was made before the district started its investigation.
During the week of Oct. 17, 2021, three more juveniles made allegations against Grams, and a seventh complaint was filed the following weekend.
Law enforcement was contacted Oct. 27, 2021. An investigation led by law enforcement officials followed, and investigators looked into records from the school along with interviews with the people involved in the case.
Grams was placed on administrative leave Oct. 18, 2021, but the affidavit says an official letter of administrative leave was not delivered until Oct. 28, 2021.
At a recent hearing, both the defense and prosecution questioned a detective about the timeline and details of the accusations.
According to the affidavit, school district officials said some of the students stumbled over their stories, but the detective testified that the students were consistent with their stories and would correct interviewers if something was repeated incorrectly.
At the last hearing, Lilly asked the detective about a possible Sept. 24, 2021, slumber party involving some of the alleged victims, but the detective could not confirm details about who attended.
Lilly said there is no physical evidence in the case and said there should be more witnesses outside of the students who said they were inappropriately touched by Grams.
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