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Alleged Plum High School Teacher-Student Sex Controversy Continues

April 30, 2015

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the folks at Plum High School.

Yes, the district has been embroiled in an alleged teacher-student sex controversy – with teachers Joseph Ruggieri, 40, and Jason Cooper, 38, charged separately with institutional sex assault against a student.

Then there was Drew Zoldak, 40, their colleague who was charged with intimidating the alleged victim in Ruggieri’s case in an effort to discourage her from being a court witness.

To be honest, though, I’m not really concerned about the district – it’s the students I feel for, as well as their parents.

I’d like to take a minute to address parents for a moment, if I may: Take it from a Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer – it is of paramount importance that parents of these types victims to understand their rights and the laws against sex acts between a teacher and student, regardless of the age of the child. You should immediately contact an experienced Pittsburgh sex crimes lawyer without any kind of delay.

When it comes to the Plum High School student-teacher sex charges controversy, there are still many unanswered questions. The one I am most interested in? When did the district become aware of the allegations – and perhaps more importantly, did they take the appropriate actions at the appropriate time to ensure the safety of its students?

As both a lawyer who has served as counsel for the parents of sexual assault victims, and as a voracious consumer of news media, I know that, unfortunately, they aren’t few and far between.

Who can forget – especially right here in the Keystone State – about the Jerry Sandusky trial? Further, who could forget about the backlash against both the late Coach Joe Paterno and administrators, who reportedly had clues that sexual assaults were being perpetrated, but did little to stop them.

To put it mildly: I think the district handled this whole thing poorly.

A variety of different illegal actions falls under the category of sex crimes. It includes any kind of sexual misconduct such as inappropriate touching, texting lewd images and videos, etc.

A conviction for a sex crime is a severe matter and has the ability to ruin a person’s life forever. They will have to endure a prison sentence and may also be imposed huge fines. But along with that, they will be subjected to the burden of being registered as a sex offender. This is not only utterly humiliating, but will also cost them a lot financially with regard to their legal fees and an unfortunate decline in employment prospects even after their release.

Sadly, even just the suggestion that a teacher has had sex with a student can ruin that teacher’s life. The community will have him labeled as guilty before he ever sets foot in a classroom. His friends, and possibly even his family, will distance themselves from him.

Thus, as soon as you or your family member are facing charges for a sex crime, you must not remain silent but resort to an experienced and reputed sex crimes lawyer who will use his skills to either dismiss your charges at the trial or at least request for a lenient sentence if you are proven to be guilty. A lawyer knows the criminal proceedings much better than you. So, he will be able to give you the right advice and also look for loopholes in the evidence presented to the court by the prosecution. Be very careful while hiring a Pittsburgh sex crimes lawyer and share every kind of detail with him, so that he can do his best to protect you.

Source: WTAE Pittsburgh

Update September, 2016:

Both Mr. Ruggieri and Mr. Cooper are now serving prison terms of two to five years for this crime. As the investigation unfolded, two other teachers were accused, and the high school principal and the head of the school board were suspended.

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