Robert Wilson Leach, 33, a former public charter school teacher based in Washington, D.C., was sentenced on Friday to 11 years and 10 months in prison for sexually abusing four middle school students between 2010 and 2013.
Leach fled the country after he was confronted by one of the victims’ parents in December 2013.
U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and Michael Hughes, U.S. Marshal for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, made the announcement.
“No matter how much time had elapsed, or how many miles he traveled, Robert Leach could not escape responsibility for the crimes he committed against four vulnerable children entrusted to his care,” said U.S. Attorney Liu.
“Because of the dedicated efforts of law enforcement in the United States and abroad, he now is paying the price for his predatory acts.”
Leach, formerly of Silver Spring, Md., was arrested in the United Kingdom in July 2015 and extradited to the United States in January 2018.
He pled guilty on June 8, 2018, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to first-degree child sexual abuse, sexual performance of a minor, and two counts of attempted second degree child sexual abuse, with aggravating circumstances as to one count.
Leach was sentenced by the Honorable Milton C. Lee.
Following his prison term, Leach will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, and will also be placed on a period of 25 years of supervised release.
Leach was a teacher at Meridian Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. throughout the period when the offenses took place.
He taught seventh and eighth grade math classes and beginning in his first year teaching, and continuing until he fled the country, Leach groomed and sexually abused female students.
The abuse, which varied by each of the four victims, included kissing in school stairwells, sexual touching in Leach’s classroom, the solicitation and receipt of nude photos, and sexual intercourse.
With one victim, Leach engaged in sexual intercourse dozens of times. Leach would pick up this victim from school and drive her to his apartment in Maryland or to secluded parts of the District of Columbia, where he would sexually abuse her.
The sexual abuse stopped only when a parent caught Leach on December 31, 2013.
That same day, Leach, a United States citizen, bought a plane ticket with cash, went to the airport, and fled first to the Cayman Islands and then to Cuba.
After a brief return to the United States, during which Leach resumed romantic communications with one of his victims convincing her to destroy evidence, keep him updated on the investigation and mislead investigators.
(Learn More. Do kids really know who they’re talking to online? In this PSA, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) explore the dangers of sharing images online. Courtesy of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and YouTube.)
Leach departed again, this time for the United Arab Emirates, where he continued teaching.
Leach remained in the UAE until July 2015, when he took a short trip to the United Kingdom.
UK officers from the Metropolitan Police Service arrested Leach on a provisional arrest warrant.
Leach remained incarcerated in the UK contesting extradition until he was extradited to the United States on January 5, 2018.
Former DC charter school teacher is extradited back to the US to face sexual abuse charges that happened between 2011-2013. Our release here: pic.twitter.com/ofZpTOAivv
— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) January 6, 2018
A second defendant, Laurren Ebony Walker, 33, Leach’s co-teacher and friend, is awaiting sentencing on Oct. 22, 2018, for committing perjury before the grand jury investigating the crimes.
Walker, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty in June 2018 to one count of perjury.
On July 22, 2015, near the time of Leach’s UK arrest, Walker testified before a D.C. Superior Court grand jury that was investigating Leach’s sexual abuse of students.
Aware of the focus of the investigation and of the importance of truthful testimony, Walker chose to lie under oath about material facts relevant to the grand jury’s investigation.
Among other things, she denied any communications with Leach or knowledge of his whereabouts after he fled the country, even though Walker in fact frequently spoke with him and had even visited him in the United Arab Emirates a few months before her grand jury testimony.
Walker also denied giving Leach periodic access to her car, even though one of the victims testified that Leach sexually abused her in that car.
This case was investigated by the detectives of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Youth Investigations Division.
Significant assistance in locating and securing Leach was provided by:
- The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, including Associate Directors Jason Carter and Tracey Lankler and Trial Attorneys Linda McKinney and Natalya Savransky
- INTERPOL Washington
- The U.S. Marshals Service
- The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, and
- The United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police Service
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John L. Hill and Julianne C. Johnston.
Assistance was provided by a team from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that included:
- Victim/Witness Advocate Elsa Resendiz
- Criminal Investigator John Marsh
- Paralegal Specialists Jessica Moffatt, Angelina Slagle, and Joyce Arthur
- Litigation Technology Specialist Jeanie Latimore-Brown
- Intern Hannah Dier, and
- Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Misler and Christopher Bruckmann