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Supporters pack St. Louis County courtroom, successfully ask for Eureka school custodian be held without bond

In front of a room of supporters, the father of the victim asked that Robert Smith, 50, be held without bond.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A Eureka High School custodian accused of sexual abuse was ordered to be held without bond after the victim's father made the request during a Tuesday bond reduction hearing.

Robert Smith, 50, is charged with first-degree sexual abuse. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell's Office said Smith inappropriately touched a student with Down syndrome two weeks ago.

At the time of his charging on Feb. 17, an at-large warrant was issued for his arrest and his bail was set at $300,000.

At Tuesday's hearing in St. Louis County Circuit Court, the victim's father and the executive director of the Down Syndrome Association (DSA) of Greater St. Louis addressed the court and expressed concern for the safety of the victim, witness and community, according to a press release from the attorney's office. The father asked that Smith be held without bond.

“The defendant will not be getting out during the course of his court proceedings. He cannot get out," St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell said after the hearing. "There is no bond set, meaning there is no money amount set. He is not getting out.”

RELATED: Custodian at Eureka High School charged with sexually assaulting student with Down syndrome

Credit: St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office

The hearing was packed with dozens of supporters from DSA and the Rockwood School District, who erupted in applause when the judge issued the ruling. Two Eureka police detectives who investigated the incident also attended.

"Not only is this a serious offense, but we have to consider where it occurred, in a space where our most vulnerable children are expected to be safe," said Bell. "If we can't protect our children, our most vulnerable children, then we have nothing left to protect."

The incident allegedly happened in a special needs classroom in Eureka High School.

In a letter to parents last week, interim Rockwood School District Superintendent Tim Ricker said that Smith had been suspended without pay and banned from being on district property.

Smith’s defense attorney asked the judge to reduce the bond to just $50,000. He said his client has never been arrested and has no criminal history. He characterized the charges against Smith as a single count of touching through clothing, “and nothing more.”

Victims’ advocates objected to that characterization, calling it “offensive.”

Smith’s attorney said in court there is a presumption of guilt in this case. He said his client is innocent.

Previously, Rockwood School District officials have said, in part, "The district takes any report of potentially criminal behavior — whether by staff or students — very seriously.”

Smith’s attorney said in court his client has been fired.

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