HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Hermitage High School teacher is out on bond facing a sex crime charge involving a minor.
Leonard Orange, 54, of Hanover, has been on leave since February 7, a Henrico County Schools spokesman said, after he was identified as the suspect in an alleged sex offense that was reported Feb. 6.
Orange has been charged with indecent liberties of a minor by a custodian.
"It's an unfair reality in being a teacher in contemporary society," said Orange’s attorney Steve Benjamin.
Benjamin said the Hermitage H.S. social studies teacher contacted him as soon as administrators placed Orange on paid administrative leave.
Henrico Police responded Feb. 6 to Hermitage High School in reference to a sex offense being reported by a student.
Court documents state between Nov. 1, 2018 and Feb. 6 Orange asked a student for sex. The Commonwealth's Attorney says it was in exchange for changing a grade.
“What’s concerning to me is that high school teachers are uniquely susceptible to baseless accusations,” Benjamin said. “That’s simply a reality.”
A former student named Amber told NBC12, “That doesn’t sound like him... it’s very out of character.”
Amber was a junior in his social studies class.
“[He] made the class fun and I wouldn’t fall asleep," she added. "He was funny and full of energy. He enjoyed teaching.”
Orange turned himself in to police Thursday when he found out an arrest warrant had been issued, according to Benjamin.
Appearing in court Friday afternoon, Orange spoke clearly and was fully alert as the judge read him his charge.
Those charges come three months after the alleged offense was reported and as Henrico County Schools celebrates teacher appreciation week.
“Hermitage administrators are taking this matter very seriously,” a spokesman said. “We want our parent community to know that we share their concerns, and we thank those in local law enforcement for their partnership and continued efforts.”
Benjamin released the following statement Friday afternoon:
“Since February, when Mr. Orange was placed on leave without explanation, we have asked for the reason, and have tried to speak with the authorities so that we could assist and provide relevant facts. Nobody wanted to talk, and only today were we notified what a student had claimed. Mr. Orange denies all allegations of misconduct.”
Orange was granted a $10,000 bond Friday, ordered no contact with the victim, and placed under the supervision of the Community Corrections Program.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney argued Orange is a threat to the community and should not have been granted bond so soon.
Benjamin’s next court appearance is scheduled for June 24 at 2 p.m.
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