A Milwaukee man who is a teacher at Dominican High School has been charged in Ozaukee County with sexual assault of a 6-year-old Cedarburg girl.

Although the incident does not involve Dominican students, the teacher, Christopher J. Laing-Martinez, 39, has been suspended with pay while the allegation is being investigated, said Paul M. McInerny, Dominican High School president.

Staff and students were told of the allegation, and a letter has been sent to parents informing them that the teacher has been suspended, McInerny said.

Laing-Martinez has been charged with sexual assault of a child under age 13 and made an initial appearance before Ozaukee Circuit Court Judge Tom R. Wolfgram Tuesday afternoon.

No plea was entered, but a preliminary hearing is set for 2 p.m. May 21.

If convicted, he faces up to 60 years in prison.

Outside the courtroom, Laing-Martinez had no comment.

His attorney, Dennis P. Coffey, said neither he nor his client were aware of the school's letter to parents.

He also contended Laing-Martinez did not admit to the crime, as is reported in the criminal complaint.

According to a criminal complaint, Laing-Martinez is accused of having sexual contact with the girl between June 25, 2003 and June 29, 2003.

Police said they questioned Laing-Martinez and he told them he spent part of June 2003 at the girl's house to "assist with the children," the complaint states.

Cedarburg Police Chief Tom Frank said the alleged sexual assault occurred in a home setting, and the family knew the individual who was arrested. He said the girl and Laing-Martinez are not related.

The incident was reported to police on April 26, Frank said.

Laing-Martinez, according to the complaint, told police that he "made a stupid mistake and he was sorry for what he had done" and that it was "very stupid on his part."

http://www.jsonline.com/news/ozwash/may04/227225.asp