A North Highlands man with prior convictions for molesting children is in the Sacramento County jail facing new charges, and authorities believe there could be more victims.
Sacramento County sheriff’s detectives say Michael John Leonard, 45, who is in jail on a variety of molestation charges, had extensive access to young children and teens in the Sacramento area.
He was known to frequent skating rinks, dance studios, water parks and gymnastic facilities. He also hosted book club meetings.
“He would utilize these public places to have access to children,” said Lt. Lisa Bowman, sheriff’s spokeswoman.
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Leonard was arrested April 26 on suspicion of lewd acts with a child under 14 and other child molestation charges.
Over the weekend, based on further investigation and another person coming forward with claims of being a victim, detectives added an additional charge of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14. Bowman said there are at least three people believed to have been victims.
Leonard has numerous prior convictions of assault and of molestation of children, according to Sacramento Superior Court online records. He is a registered sex offender.
More than a decade ago, Leonard was accused of manufacturing and distributing child pornography. His attorney at the time, Richard Hamlin, characterized Leonard as an artist who took photographs of children so he could draw them as nymphs and fairies, according to a Bee article from 2000. Those charges were eventually dropped.
Bowman said Leonard’s past convictions could result in additional charges at the discretion of the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.
On Monday, Leonard refused an interview request at the county jail, where he has remained since April with bail set at more than $4.6 million.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday.
“There may be more victims,” Bowman said.
Anyone who suspects Leonard of having had inappropriate contact with a child is asked to contact detectives or leave an anonymous tip at www.sacsheriff.com.