Cranston teacher charged with sexual assault, placed on leave

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cranston western hills teacher matthew sheridan_302261

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A Cranston Hills Middle School teacher charged with first- and second-degree sexual assault is denying the accusations.

A statewide grand jury reported out a secret indictment Wednesday that alleges Matthew Sheridan, 48, sexually assaulted a boy on various dates between June 1, 2003, and July 9, 2004. The boy, who prosecutors said was known to Sheridan, was 15 and 16 at the time of the alleged assaults.

The lawyer representing Sheridan released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

“Matthew Sheridan adamantly denies these charges. This accusation, from a former neighbor and roommate, is over a decade old, is inconsistent with the known facts, and completely contrary to his character and reputation as a dedicated teacher and educator. Matthew Sheridan is innocent and looks forward to his day in court,” – John E. MacDonald, Attorney for Matthew Sheridan

According to the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, State Police determined the assault was not connected to Sheridan’s role as a school teacher and no other victims have been identified at this time.

The AG’s office said Sheridan was arrested at his home Wednesday night and held overnight at State Police headquarters.

He was arraigned before Superior Court Magistrate Patricia L. Harwood, who set bail at $50,000 with surety.

As a condition of bail, Harwood ordered Sheridan to have no contact with his accuser and no unsupervised contact with any minor children.

A pre-trial conference was set for July 20.

School Response

Sheridan is a science teacher at Western Hills. Eyewitness News has learned he’s worked for the district since Dec. 2004 but has only been at Western Hills since the beginning of this school year.

“Mr. Sheridan was placed on paid administrative leave effective today. It is paid because we are guided by Rhode Island general law 16-13-5. At this particular time the district will have no further comment because it’s an ongoing investigation,” Ray Votto, chief operating officer for Cranston Public Schools, told Eyewitness News.

Votto said school officials were completely unaware of any accusations against Sheridan before Thursday.

He said the district runs criminal background checks on new employees, which must come back clean before the person is hired.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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