A onetime substitute teacher and baseball coach in the Ken-Ton School District, who pleaded guilty to “sexting” boys on the team, was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in jail and five years of probation.
Robert Leary, 29, was told by Tonawanda Town Justice J. Mark Gruber to report to jail this afternoon. His sentence will be served in the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden.
Leary pleaded guilty, as charged, in June to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one of aggravated harassment. The maximum sentence for each of the misdemeanor charges is a year in jail.
Leary had worked less than a year for the school district – until October 2011 – and had been a middle school baseball coach. The accusations came to light after he no longer was working there.
Between June and December 2011, Leary sent inappropriate and sexually suggestive text messages to three juveniles and requested sexual images from them, authorities said previously. He reportedly also made threats to keep the boys from telling their parents about his texts.
Before imposing sentence Thursday, Gruber heard from Peter Marche, an assistant Erie County district attorney; defense attorney John R. Nuchereno; and Leary. However, much of what they said was inaudible to those seated in the courtroom gallery.
Marche noted that the parent of a victim was in the courtroom and referenced a victim impact statement. He said Leary deprived the victims “of an innocence they will never get back.”
Leary is a “troubled young man” and is receiving professional help, according to his attorney.
“The real question is the punishment,” said Nuchereno, adding that the punishment Leary suffers on a daily basis is “enormous.”
In his comments, Leary mentioned a letter he wrote to the court, the contents of which weren’t disclosed.
The judge noted a request by the prosecutor for orders of protection for all of the victims and witnesses in the case. “They all are seeking to have absolutely no contact with the defendant,” Marche said. “I stress that’s no contact whatsoever.”
It took several minutes for Gruber to recite the terms of probation, several of which essentially bar Leary from contact with people under age 18 or, in certain circumstances, require him to be accompanied by a responsible adult or an approved chaperone.
Provisions apply to where Leary may live, work and visit; with whom he may associate; and even with whom he may become romantically involved, if that person has children.
Alcohol and drug use is prohibited, and Leary is subject to random testing. There also are restrictions on computer and phone usage; he isn’t allowed to have a cellphone with photo or video capability.
Leary also is required to have various evaluations by professionals.
Gruber granted the orders of protection sought by the prosecutor. They apply to seven people and will prevail throughout the probation period.