A 22-year-old man was given a life sentence Wednesday for trying to sexually assault a boy in a Dundalk middle school bathroom.

Sean T. Schleigh had all but 20 years of his sentence suspended by Baltimore County Circuit Judge John G. Turnbull II, Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Porter said after the hearing.

He will get credit for the time he has served in the Baltimore County House of Detention since he was arrested Dec. 16, 2010 at Holabird Middle School, Porter said. He was also sentenced to five years of supervised probation and will have to add his name to the Maryland Sex Offender Registry.

Schleigh, who Porter said was homeless when he was arrested, entered an Alford plea to attempted first-degree sexual assault before Turnbull. That means he does not admit guilt but acknowledges that the state has enough evidence to convict him.

In the plea hearing on Tuesday, Porter told the court that Schleigh attacked the 12-year-old boy in a bathroom. She said Schleigh first asked the boy to show him his private parts, and when he refused, Schleigh started punching and kicking the boy and tried to drag him into a bathroom stall. As the two struggled, Porter said, Schleigh stuffed a sock into the boy's mouth.

The sentence fell between Porter's recommendation of life with all but 40 years suspended and the defense proposal of seven to 13 years, in accordance with Maryland sentencing guidelines.

The boy's cries for help were heard by people in the guidance counselor's office across the hall. He broke free and ran, and as Schleigh followed him out of the bathroom, he was arrested by the Baltimore County police officer assigned to the school, Porter said.

Porter told the court that Schleigh later told the police that he "wanted to have sex" and chose the boy because he was "small and blond."

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

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