Prosecutor: Concord teacher accused of sexual assault destroyed evidence, gave cash to student

  • Concord teacher Howie Leung stands in Newton District Court on Friday. A judge set his bail at $50,000 and ordered he have no contact with anyone under 16 years old. Eileen O'Grady—For the Monitor

For the Monitor
Published: 4/19/2019 2:15:45 PM

In the hours after learning he was under investigation for sexual misconduct, Concord High teacher Howie Leung gave $25,000 in cash to a high school senior, telling her that cash was more difficult to trace and urging her to hide it somewhere in her bedroom, a Massachusetts prosecutor said.

Leung was seen having inappropriate contact with the senior at Concord High, who is a different student than the victim he is accused of sexually assaulting numerous times at Rundlett Middle School and at the Fessenden Summer School in Townsend, Mass., according to District Attorney Radu Brestyan.

Brestyan outlined a series of events that began on March 27, the day Leung learned of the investigation against him and the Concord School District placed him on paid administrative leave. Leung began systematically deleting digital files that could be used as evidence against him, including photographs of himself with a student and videos of himself dancing with a different student.

“He started working his way toward removing that evidence against him,” Brestyan told Judge Mary Heffernan Friday.

Leung then attempted suicide on March 28, after first composing several suicide notes, which his wife later found concealed in ceiling tiles in their home.

Brestyan argued those facts, paired with Leung’s propensity for travel and connections abroad, make him a “high flight risk” and deserving of high cash bail.

“I hope you can see the pattern here, that this man has absolutely no intention of facing the charges against him,” Brestyan told the judge in Newton District Court.

Leung underwent a judge-ordered mental health evaluation this week to measure his competency and ability to stand trial. At the Friday hearing, court psychologist Leah Robertson said Leung is mentally healthy, understands how a trial works, and now feels hopeful and no longer suicidal.

During the hearing, Leung stood alone in a glass enclosure to the left of the judge’s bench, wearing a red Cape Cod sweatshirt.

Primo “Howie” Leung, 36, is accused of sexually assaulting a student over a period of several years at Rundlett Middle School in Concord where he was a special education teacher, and at Fessenden Summer School, where he was the director.

Leung is facing two counts of aggravated rape of a child, one count of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, and one count of indecent assault and battery on a child over 14.

Leung’s alleged victim, who is now 17, told police she was sexually assaulted by Leung multiple times when she was 13 and 14. She reported being inappropriately touched by Leung on several occasions at Rundlett​​​​​, both on school property and in his vehicle when he gave her rides home, according to court documents. At the time, he was a special education teacher at the middle school.

When she was an unpaid helper at the Fessenden School, which provides an overnight English Language Learning summer program, she said Leung assaulted her repeatedly in his office, in the tunnels of the school buildings where campers were playing tag and in her dorm room. He assaulted her approximately 20 times over the course of two summers, according to a police report.

“From when she was in 7th grade, he strategically groomed the young lady to take her away from her family and bring her to a summer camp, where he assaulted her,” Brestyan said.

Leung is also the subject of several other pending investigations in New Hampshire. Prosecutors said Friday that police are looking into whether Leung forged his wife’s name on a check in order to obtain money from the estate of her late father, who passed away in February. Leung’s wife was granted a restraining order against him.

Heffernan set Leung’s bail at $50,000 cash.

Brestyan said the cash Leung gave to the high school senior shows that he seems to have no problem raising large sums of money, increasing the likelihood he will be able to post bail. Leung’s mother, who lives in Hong Kong, has previously sent him large sums of money, and just recently transferred $35,000 to Leung’s account, Brestyan said.

If he is able to post bail, Leung must wear a GPS monitoring device that will ensure he stays in Massachusetts and returns to New Hampshire only for medical and legal appointments. He is prohibited from contacting the victim or the victim’s family, in addition to any child under 16, and he must maintain a curfew between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Leung is scheduled to appear in court again on May 15. Leung remains on paid administrative leave as an employee of the Concord School District. In 2018, he made $78,266.

Eileen O

Eileen O'Grady is a Report for America corps member covering education for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. O’Grady is the former managing editor of Scope magazine at Northeastern University in Boston, where she reported on social justice issues, community activism, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a native Vermonter and worked as a reporter covering local politics for the Shelburne News and the Citizen. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, The Bay State Banner, and VTDigger. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in politics and French from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as news editor for the Mount Holyoke News from 2017-2018.

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