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Piano Teacher Given Eight Years for Molesting Students

Robert Catalano of Danbury was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday for risk of injury charges involving his piano students.

Robert Catalano, 38, of Candlewood Drive, Danbury, was sentenced to eight years in prison and 25 years of probation Wednesday for illegal sexual contact with four of his piano students and for risk of injury to three others.

Catalano gave piano lessons at his home, and he pleaded no contest in December to allegations he touched students during those lessons. The specific charges were three counts of "Risk of Injury to a Minor," and four counts of, "Risk of Injury to a Minor: Illegal Sexual Contact." He was sentenced on Feb. 13.

One victim, called Jane Doe, was born on April 26, 2004. She was seven years old when she told her parents about the sexual behavior. She started piano lessons in first grade.

"Jane stated that Robert had been touching her "front and back" during piano lessons. Jane said this happened more than one time," wrote Forensic Interviewer Donna Meyer.

The final charges said Catalano, who himself has two children, hired a babysitter to watch his own children when he was giving piano lessons during the week. Police found seven victims, and Catalano pleaded no contest to seven charges.

Catalano said in his first interview with police he sits close to Jane on the bench and will put his hands on her hands when she plays and he does rub her back. He said, "He didn't think he went into her pants, but he said that he wouldn't say it didn't happen. He described that if it did happen it was inadvertent."

During the sentencing Wednesday, Catalano's attorney, Patrick Tomasiewicz, tried to postpone the sentencing to a later date. The sentencing had been shifted several times because of winter weather.

"We have the families of several children here," said Assistant State's Attorney Sharmese Hodge, who wanted the sentencing to go forward Wednesday. "They're looking for finality and closure."

Tomasiewicz argued that because of the snow earlier in the week and with scheduling conflicts and changing dates, Catalano's mother and his counselor could not attend the sentencing. The length of Catalano's sentence was decided at his sentencing.

Danbury Superior Court Judge John Blawie said he wasn't inclined to postpone the sentencing, because Catalano had already pleaded guilty and the families of three victims were in the court. Catalano's counselor had already submitted a written letter on Catalano's behalf.

I have the information is what I'm saying, Judge Blawie said, and then he asked, is the counselor going to change what he already said?

The mother of one victim was crying during the argument of whether or not to sentence Catalano Wednesday. After hearing arguments from Tomasiewicz and Assistant State's Attorney Sharmese Hodge, Blawie agreed to sentence Catalano to eight years in prison followed by 25 years of probation. Catalano is not allowed to have unsupervised visits with children.

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