Dustin Ray Leonard, 28, of Lubbock, Texas, appeared yesterday in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge D. Gordon Bryant, Jr., and pleaded guilty to enticement of a minor, announced Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
Leonard faces not less than 10 years and not more than life in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and not less than five years nor more than a lifetime of supervised release. Leonard has been in custody since his arrest on May 22, 2018, and will remain in custody pending sentencing.
According to the factual resume filed in the case, on July 16, 2016, Leonard was hired by the Slaton Independent School District (SISD), as a high school teacher and Coach. On April 12, 2018, the Slaton High School (SHS) and SISD Chief of Police learned of a possible inappropriate relationship that occurred between Leonard and an 11th grade female student, “Jane Doe.” The SISD Superintendent received an audio recording that another student had made of Leonard. In the recording, Leonard was telling a female student about his marital problems. Leonard, after being confronted by SISD about the recording, provided SISD a written letter of resignation, citing personal and family concerns. On May 8, 2018, the SISD school board met and accepted the resignation effective May 18, 2018.
On May 21, 2018, Slaton Police Department (SPD) was provided information regarding Leonard’s Snapchat account and an inappropriate relationship he was having with Doe. Leonard was later interviewed and admitted that he and Doe had been in a sexual relationship since January 2018.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood leverages federal, state and local resources to better investigate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children. Project Safe Childhood also prioritizes identifying and rescuing victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/. For more information about internet safety education, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/ and click on the tab “resources.”
The Slaton Police Department, Slaton Independent School District Police Department, the Texas Rangers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey R. Haag is in charge of the prosecution.