A 22-year-old man faces sentencing Wednesday morning for trying to sexually assault a boy in a Dundalk middle school bathroom in 2010.

Sean T. Schleigh entered an "Alford plea" to attempted first-degree sexual assault in Baltimore County Circuit Court on Tuesday in the attack on a 12-year-old boy at Holabird Middle School on Dec. 16, 2010. By entering such a plea, Schleigh was not admitting guilt, but acknowledging that the state has enough evidence to convict him.

Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Porter told Judge John G. Turnbull II in a 20-minute hearing Tuesday that she is recommending a sentence of life in prison with all but 40 years suspended, plus five years of supervised probation. Schleigh — who Porter said was homeless when he was arrested and has been in jail since — will have to register with the Maryland Sexual Offender Registry.

Porter told the court that Schleigh attacked the boy at about 8:40 that Thursday morning in the bathroom after asking the boy to show him his private parts. When the boy refused, Schleigh punched and kicked him, tried dragging him to a bathroom stall and stuffed a blue tube sock into his mouth, Porter said.

As the two struggled on the bathroom floor, the boy yelled for help and got the attention of school staff in the guidance office right across the hall, Porter said. The boy was able to break free and run out of the bathroom.

Schleigh ran out of the bathroom past guidance staff members and into a school police officer, who arrested him. The officer found that Schleigh had a blue tube sock, Porter said.

He later told police that he "wanted to have sex" with the boy because he was "small and blond," Porter said. Schleigh is a slim man, 5 feet 8 inches tall, who appeared in court with long, light-brown hair and dressed in dark clothing.

Schleigh told police he "really wanted to have sex because he had not had sex for a long time," Porter told the court.

His lawyer, Edward Barry, told the court that Schleigh had just been released from a hospital when the attack occurred and "had some mental issues." Barry told the court that Schleigh could have pleaded "not criminally responsible." Barry did not elaborate and could not be reached for comment after the hearing.

The attack left the boy with "red marks on his lips" and his chest, Porter said. He was treated by a school nurse, Porter said.

Porter said in court on Tuesday that the Baltimore County Police officer assigned to the school spotted Schleigh outside the building at 7:35 that morning wearing a sweatshirt with the hood over his head. The officer thought he was a student, Porter said.

Video surveillance cameras showed that he first went into the cafeteria, sat there for awhile, and shortly afterward was stopped by a teacher. He told the teacher he was looking for his brother, Porter said, and was directed to the main office. The video then showed him going into the boys' bathroom.

School security guidelines say visitors must be told to check in, but a department spokesman has acknowledged that does not necessarily mean visitors are escorted to the main office. Charles Herndon said shortly after the attack occurred that the school department was satisfied with security procedures and there would be no "systemic review" as a result of the assault.

Holabird Middle School Principal Julie Dellone — who took that post seven months after the assault occurred — declined to say if any changes have been made to school policies since the incident. She would only say that "we have security measures in place" at the school, where about 600 students are enrolled.

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

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