A New Haven special education teacher accused of sexually assaulting three students at the MicroSociety Magnet School during the 2011-to-2012 school year will be in court today.
New Haven public schools special education teacher Robert Schmitt, 48, of Hamden, turned himself in following a months-long investigation into the alleged sexual assault of three magnet school students under the age of 13, authorities said.
According to police, the investigation into the first incident began in April, when a social worker contacted police after speaking with the 12-year-old victim.
The school principal and the state Department of Children and Families were also notified, and Schmitt was escorted from school grounds.
He was suspended and has not been back inside the building since. The school system is now taking action to terminate Schmitt’s employment, police said.
A second incident was reported in May when the father of a 14-year-old girl called school officials, authorities said.
The second victim told authorities that Schmitt touched her inappropriately while they were alone in his office with the door closed. She told investigators that she had also seen Schmitt touch the first victim, according to a warrant for Schmitt's arrest.
According to the warrant, the second victim has been diagnosed with an intellectual disability.
Days later after the second assault was reported, detectives met with a third victim, a 12-year-old boy, police said.
A MicroSociety school social worker described Schmitt as "quirky" and said he lacked social skills. School principal Rosalyn Bannon Bannon said she thought Schmitt might be mentally ill, according to the warrant.
Bannon said she moved Schmitt out of the private office after taking over as principal in 2012 because she "did not want the children to feel isolated." She said Schmitt "was very upset and pleaded several times" to keep his office, according to the warrant.
Schmitt was charged with two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, two counts of risk of injury to a child and one count of third-degree assault.
New Haven school superintendent Garth Harries released the following statement after Schmitt’s arrest:
“The safety and wellbeing of our students must be the absolute top priority for the school district and our staff. Children should feel safe in school and parents should feel safe sending their children to school. We work hard every day to maintain safety and wellbeing and we act immediately to investigate any concerns brought to our attention. In this case the principal acted immediately to remove the teacher once allegations were made. We reported the incident, cooperated fully with DCF and police and are moving forward with termination proceedings.”
MicroSociety is a public magnet school for students in grades Pre-K through eight. It’s located at 311 Valley Street in New Haven.