A judge has disposed of the case of a New Haven special education teacher accused of sexually assaulting four students at the MicroSociety Magnet School during the 2011-to-2012 school year.
New Haven public schools special education teacher Robert Schmitt, 48, of Hamden, had turned himself in following a months-long investigation into the alleged sexual assault of three magnet school special education students, including two 12-year-old children and a 14-year-old girl with an intellectual disability who told police he touched her inappropriately in his closed office, authorities said.
A day after he was arrested in September 2013 in connection to those complaints, a fourth student came forward and reported a sexual assault incident involving a Schmitt, leading to another arrest.
In April, a jury found Schmitt not guilty of all charges in the first case involving a 12-year-old student. On Monday, the same day evidence was scheduled to be presented for the second case involving the 14-year-old girl, the prosecutor announced she was dropping the case, according to a news release from New Haven lawyer Diane Polan, Schmitt's attorney. Judge Patrick Clifford ultimately dismissed the remaining three pending cases at Polan's request.
"The State’s case unraveled when the second student’s school reports and records from DCF were finally provided," Polan said in a statement. “Those records showed that the complainant had an extremely low IQ, and that there were serious inconsistencies in reports she had made to school officials and to DCF workers. The State should not have wasted the time of the court and the jurors in this case. The real victim in this case is Robert Schmitt, who was falsely accused of terrible crimes." The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Sanangelo.
After the fourth complaint, Scmitt's family raised money to post his $200,000 bond and his attorney said "the past two years have been a nightmare for Mr. Schmitt and his family."
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.
“In addition to being falsely accused, he was unable to attend events at his 14 year old son’s school, and he was ultimately forced to resign his job as a teacher in New Haven," Polan said. ".... This case is a textbook example of the terrible consequence of the police and prosecutors’ uncritical acceptance of uncorroborated accusations made by adolescents against teachers. A teacher’s reputation is completely ruined by accusations of this kind, even if they are eventually totally exonerated, as my client was today."
Photo Credit: New Haven Police Department