Claremont teacher accused of sex with student pleads guilty
NEWPORT — The former high school math teacher accused in March of engaging in a sexual relationship with one of his students at Stevens High School in Claremont pled guilty in Sullivan County Superior Court Friday morning.
He was sentenced to serve 3½ to 7 years in state prison.
Christopher LeBlanc, 29, of Claremont, was arrested and charged March 21 after a two-day investigation by Claremont police and Stevens High School administrators. He was initially charged at his arraignment in district court on four counts of felonious sexual assault stemming from his alleged sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl.
In April, the Sullivan County Grand Jury indicted him on one charge of committing a pattern of aggravated felonious sexual assault and one charge of committing felonious sexual assault in a school zone.
He was scheduled to be arraigned on the indictments Friday morning, but a plea and sentencing hearing took place instead.
He pled to two charges, said Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway.
The first charge he pled to was one count of felonious sexual assault on which he received a sentence of 3½ to 7 years in state prison.
The other count is a pattern of aggravated felonious sexual assault, Hathaway said, “which would cover a broad cross-section of the alleged behavior.”
On this charge LeBlanc was given a consecutive suspended sentence of 5 to 15 years in state prison. This sentence can be brought forward if LeBlanc violates the condition of the plea or commits a new crime, Hathaway said. This sentence cannot be brought forward after 15 years.
Conditions of the plea include that he participate in the sex offender program offered at the state prison, he has no contact direct or indirect with the victim or her family, and that he not set foot on any elementary or secondary school properties. He was also ordered to relinquish his teaching certificate.
As a result of the plea, LeBlanc is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
LeBlanc had been out on $150,000 cash bail.
“The moment the sentencing hearing was done the sheriff put him in handcuffs and took him to the New Hampshire state prison,” Hathaway said.
Hathaway said he began pursuing a plea deal with LeBlanc early on. He had met with the victim and her family and was told their primary goal was a quick resolution, he said.
“This came about as a result, starting with a conversation with the victim and the victim’s family, who were very supportive of the prosecution, but were also very hopeful the young lady could start moving forward with her life and leave this whole sequence of events behind her,” Hathaway said. “Obviously with a case such as this these potentially have long lives and having this continue certainly can be perceived as having a negative impact. Life is hard when you are in the center of one of these things so putting it behind you has value.”
The victim and her mother both gave victim impact statements at the Friday morning hearing in which they reinforced their support of the plea agreement, he said.
The quick resolution would not have been possible without Claremont police working quickly to complete their investigation and conduct forensic work on electronic devices, Hathaway said.
“They put together a big file fast,” he said, “With a tremendous amount of effort, care and concern.”
Hathaway added Stevens High School also benefits from the plea.
“There’s a huge impact on the school system,” Hathaway said. “It also certainly benefits the school to have closure on this.”
In LeBlanc’s arrest affidavit, police said he sexually assaulted the 14-year-old Stevens High School student in a classroom as well as several other places, including his home and a friend’s home.
According to the affidavit, the victim said the sexual relationship started in November, but that a friendship between her and LeBlanc had started in the fall that “blossomed into a relationship, as described by the 14-year-old female being similar to a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.”
Around this time he asked her to babysit for his child.
He complemented her “endlessly” and referred to her as his “rock.” He also confided in her about his pending divorce.
“LeBlanc also told the 14 year old female that he loved her, and that he would wait for her to turn 18 so they didn’t have to hide their relationship. Leblanc went so far as to talk about future plans with her,” Sgt. Emily M. Cobb wrote in the arrest affidavit.
The affidavit also includes several email messages between LeBlanc and the student including, “Just say we talked a lot but just as friends. Say what we have been saying before. … Don’t mention sexual stuff.”