Former Norwalk teacher convicted of sex assault may be sent back to jail
STAMFORD — A disgraced former teacher at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk who was convicted of sexually assaulting a female student in 2010 could be sent back to jail for allegedly violating the conditions of his probation.
A Stamford judge is expected to decide on the case by the end of the month.
It was nearly nine years ago that John Randolph Tate, then 54, pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault and tampering with a witness for having sex with a 17-year-old student from the school.
The girl told police that Tate had sexually assaulted her 20 times, including once in a high school classroom and another time in a cemetery.
During the investigation, officers discovered emails that Tate had sent to the student before his arrest, instructing her to lie about their relationship if she was questioned by authorities, according to his arrest affidavit.
After serving a year in prison, Tate was given a seven-year suspended sentence, 20 years of probation and required to resister as a sex offender for a decade.
In April 2019, Tate, now 63, was charged with violating probation. On Tuesday, the first of two hearings was held before Judge Richard Comerford to determine whether Tate was in violation. If Comerford decides that Tate did violate probation, he could be made to serve some or all of the seven-year suspended jail sentence.
Tate is free after posting $100,000 court appearance bond after his April arrest.
For about an hour, Tate’s Bridgeport probation officer, Eileen McCarthy, answered questions put to her by Stamford State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo and was cross-examined by Tate’s attorney, Andrew Gould.
According to the arrest affidavit prepared by McCarthy, Tate violated his probation a number of times since his release from prison in December 2011.
In reviewing Tate’s smartphone usage since late March, probation officials learned that Tate planned to move into his mother’s home in Wilton and then to the Adirondacks in New York State. Tate also texted a moving company for a price for a move to Saranac Lake. That would be in violation because he had not told his probation officer of the planned move.
McCarthy said Tate made an appointment with a Realtor to see a property in upstate New York but canceled when he found out the property was a cash-only sale.
During an unannounced inspection of Tate’s residence also in late March, probation officers said they found numerous bottles of liquor and wine, which are prohibited, as well as several prohibited electronic devices. They also found a”system cleanser” that Tate explained was to mask Oxycodone from showing up in a drug screen that he took for a truck driving job.
In some texts, Tate told current and ex-girlfriends that he hated the chief probation officer working on his case and prayed for the woman’s death on a daily basis. McCarthy explained that Tate’s texts can be monitored at any time.
Colangelo asked McCarthy whether Tate could still be supervised by probation. McCarthy said he had so many violations that she did not see how probation could be of any help to him.
On Oct. 17, Gould plans to call character witnesses on Tate’s behalf before the state and defense rest their cases. Gould declined to comment further on the case.
Comerford is expected to consider the evidence for a short time before making his decision.
Unlike criminal court trials where a judge or jury must find a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard of evidence is much lower in a hearing on violation of probation. A judge has to find only that there is a preponderance of evidence that the violation was more likely to have occurred than not for the individual to be found in violation.