Man punched boy repeatedly after propositioning him in school bathroom, police say

The 21-year-old man accused of attacking a seventh-grader inside a Dundalk middle-school bathroom this week stuck a sock in the student's mouth, punched him in the face, neck and chest, and attempted to sexually assault him, according to court documents released Friday.

Sean Thomas Schleigh, who has a history of arrests on theft, trespassing and drug offenses, was charged with two counts of attempted second-degree sex offense, second-degree assault, false imprisonment, resisting arrest and second-degree assault on a police officer.

Schleigh was incarcerated at the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson in lieu of $1 million bail after his arrest Thursday morning at Holabird Middle School.

"Help me! Help me! Someone help me!" the 12-year-old boy screamed during the attack, according to a police officer assigned to the school, who heard the commotion from her office nearby. The officer, identified in a court document only by her last name, Pruett, ran toward the boys' restroom and was told by a secretary outside that there was "a man behind the door."

At that moment, Schleigh "came running out of the bathroom," ignored orders to stop and ran into the officer, "trying to push his way around her by using physical force," according to a probable-cause affidavit. Pruett was able to overcome the 5-foot-8-inch-tall, 145-pound man and arrest him after a brief struggle, the document said.

Under questioning by police, Schleigh "confessed that he really wanted to have sex with the boy" and described the acts he would have committed, according to the affidavit. Schleigh said he picked that boy in particular because he liked the fact that the child was "small and blond," the document said.

Once in the boys' restroom, Schleigh briefly spoke with a boy who entered — "I'm waiting for my little brother Jack," he told him — and appeared to ignore another, finally settling on the third to proposition with a crude sexual remark, according to the document. When the boy refused to show him his private parts, the affidavit said, Schleigh began punching him and stuffed a blue sock into his mouth.

"He spit the object out and then was able to fight back and break free of Mr. Schleigh after struggling for some time," the document said. At one point, it went on, the assailant tried to drag the boy into a stall. The boy "was punching Mr. Schleigh in the face in an attempt to get away from him," and when the boy fell on the floor, his assailant "kicked him between his legs."

As the boy tried to crawl away, he told police, Schleigh grabbed his leg and pulled off one of his tennis shoes. Finally, he said, he was able to get up and flee from the restroom.

The boy suffered a cut lip in the attack, but it could not be ascertained whether he sustained other injuries. The document contradicts statements from officials on Thursday that the child was unharmed and that the incident had been resolved "very quickly."

The attack occurred shortly after students had arrived for the day's classes. According to the court document, Pruett, the police officer, had already encountered Schleigh earlier on his way into the school and assumed he was a student. Schleigh had been sitting outside the school about 7:35 a.m. "with his hood over his head and a red bag," the court document said. He told the officer that he was "waiting to go in."

Once inside, Schleigh was also stopped in a hallway by a teacher and was directed to the administration office to check in. The teacher saw him walk toward the main office, but Schleigh apparently did not enter that room or register with the staff there, said Charles Herndon, a spokesman for the Baltimore County schools.

On Friday, parents picking up their children from Holabird said they were outraged that Schleigh had been able to make his way into the school and stay there long enough to attack a child. Doris Sidor, whose granddaughter is a sixth-grader there, said that Holabird is a good school and that the county police were great at patrolling, but that the incident had shaken her.

"I was very upset," Sidor said. "I just couldn't believe all this happened. I'm concerned for the children here, who want to be safe when they come to this place every day. I hope they find a way to have better supervision."

Four police officers were stationed outside Holabird on Friday afternoon, which gave some solace to Gary Komoch, whose daughter is in seventh grade with the victim. "This is great and everything," Komoch said, motioning toward the increased police presence. "But everyone wants to do something now, when it's already happened. Where were they yesterday?"

He said that when he found out about the attempted assault on Thursday, "the first thing you want to know is if it was your kid." Komoch said he had initially been relieved to find out that the assault was in the boys' bathroom, only to immediately get angry. "How can someone just walk into a school?" he asked. "No one should be able to get into a school that easily."

Zaroni Blunt, whose son attends Norwood Elementary School, just across the street from Holabird, said that when she heard about the assault, she could not fathom what would have happened had the attack been on a smaller child, who might have been incapable of putting up a defense.

"It's a big, big concern, especially with these little ones right over here," Blunt said. "I just can't imagine."

In an effort to prevent such incidents, Holabird administrators are looking at ways to enhance security at the school, including requiring staff members and teachers to escort all visitors to the office, where they will be asked to explain their presence before being given a visitor's pass.

Herndon said there would be no "systemic review" of security. The district's general guidelines stipulate that visitors to county schools be "directed" to administration offices, which Herndon acknowledged did not necessarily mean that they should be escorted there.

"The county security procedures are working well," he said. "We are satisfied with our security procedures as they are now."

On Thursday evening, Holabird's assistant principal, John E. Huber, sent an e-mail to school employees and teachers advising everyone to be "particularly observant" during arrival and dismissal times and during class changes. "It is then that we are most vulnerable," he wrote. "It is no accident or coincidence that these types of events occur at those times."

Huber instructed staff to "stop people in the hallway whom you do not recognize," to direct visitors to the administration office and to "follow through to see that they get there." He urged staff members and teachers to "take an active role" while on duty. "Stop kids, question them, question adults you might see. When something goes wrong, the first question we are usually asked is, 'Where were the adults?'"

Huber said that if students wished to discuss the matter, teachers should "simply tell them that it was an unfortunate incident" that was "dealt with by the school and the police" and that their parents had been notified.

According to court cases against him, Schleigh has had various addresses in Maryland, West Virginia and South Carolina. After his arrest on Thursday, he told police he lives in the 1100 block of Oak Tree Drive in Havre de Grace, but no one at that address or in several surrounding homes Friday seemed to know him.

He is scheduled for trial Jan. 25 in Wabash District Court in Baltimore on a misdemeanor charge of theft of less than $100. His address on that court document is listed as the 400 block of S. Stricker St. in Southwest Baltimore.

Schleigh was arrested June 11, 2008, and charged with possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Baltimore County District Court records show that he was released on his own recognizance but failed to appear in court Oct. 15, 2008. He was arrested and jailed on $2,500 bail. He posted the bail and was released. Schleigh failed to appear for another court hearing and was jailed again, with bail set at $2,500. He was found not guilty of the charges Aug. 10, 2009. The home address listed in that court file was in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

On July 22, 2009, he pleaded guilty in Baltimore County District Court to trespassing and was sentenced to unsupervised probation and fined $100. His probation ended a year later. His address at the time of his arrest was in the 8600 block of Honeygo Blvd. in Nottingham.

A charge of marijuana possession was dropped by Baltimore City prosecutors on Sept. 10, 2009. His address in that court file was in Nimitz, W.Va.

A previous version of this story gave an incorrect location for South Stricker Street.

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

erica.green@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun reporters Peter Hermann and Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.

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