Pennsylvania

Former Owen J. Roberts teacher receives a split verdict for sexual assault

Westchester — A jury hearing the case of a former Owen J. Roberts High School teacher accused of sexually assaulting one of his students in the classroom while the district was closed in quarantine due to a coronavirus pandemic. Made a split decision on Tuesday night.

Stephen E. Rough

After two days of testimony and about four and a half hours of deliberation, a panel of six men and six women said Stephen Ruff was institutional sexual assault of students, felony of minors, and minors. He was found not guilty of a felony of illegal contact. It was related to his alleged contact with a 17-year-old girl who was a student of his philosophy at the time.

However, the panel found him guilty of first-class misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of his children, and a jury found something wrong between the two in his classroom in March 2020. It clearly shows that he believed that the right thing had happened.

The crime of being at risk means that a parent or someone in the position of a guardian, or in this case a school teacher, has violated the duty of care, protection or support of a minor. State prisons can imprison up to two and a half to five years, but if he appears in front of Judge Jacqueline Carroll Cody in the future, Rickley will be sentenced to less.

The ruling found that Raught, 54, of Berks County Excelter, stood in his defense on Tuesday and that criminal or inappropriate things had happened between him and a girl who was a senior in high school in northern Chester County. It was done after denying. time.

“It didn’t happen,” he said of the contact the girl described when she testified on Monday. “Everything she said about my physical contact with her is inaccurate. That’s a lie.”

He was angry with him because the girl whose name was withheld due to the nature of the accusations against Raught could not meet each other regularly at school due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its school restrictions. Suggested that it might have been. life.

However, Raff admitted that the school met the girl on a high school campus during quarantine on the day of the incident and took her alone to the classroom, where she stayed for about 90 minutes before leaving. He said they talked about her life and problems, but as she told state police, he didn’t hug, kiss, caress, or sexually abuse her. Told.

In her closing argument, Assistant District Attorney Christine Abatemarco of the DA’s Child Abuse Unit asked the jury to consider the girl’s testimony credible.

“She came here and made an oath and honestly testified about what happened to her,” said Abate Marco. “This was a rare act and I expected someone to make up for it. She trusted him. She looked up at him. Why she wanted to make something that bothered him. Will you gate him? “

Raught was indicted in May 2020. News of the arrest upset the district with complaints from current and former students that they did not take sufficient steps to protect students from sexual predators on staff and to provide adequate support. , Leading to employment. Cooperation with external consultants to study district policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment, racism, and student bullying.

The girl said she went to school to pick up textbooks on March 16, 2020, after the district classes were closed due to the coronavirus. Students were allowed to go to school to get the items they needed to study at home.

She left school, finished her errands on her way home, and came back. Then I saw the teacher Raff, who was having an after-school conversation, walking towards school. She approached him and they entered the building together.

They went to Raught’s classroom, and as they entered, he closed the door and began to hug and kiss her. He pulled her out of sight of the door, she said in an interview with state police Trooper Matthew McGuire, and got on his knees and began kissing her stomach through her clothes.

According to the arrest affidavit, when she moved away from him and tried to distract him, he said, “It’s a shame that there is quarantine, or I’ll be in my classroom every day after school.” Said.

Then he got up and put her on the counter and started kissing her between her legs.

She said when he stopped, Raff told her. “I wish I could take you home with me. But that’s a very bad thing and we know I can’t help myself I am. “

In an interview, the girl told McGuire that she would spend time with Ruff every day after school to discuss personal issues with him. She said it was normal for Raff to hug her in the classroom.

Raught taught history and philosophy at school. As of 2018, Raught was listed as president of the Roberts Education Association, a district teachers union.He was dismissed by the district after criminal accusations against him were reported

In her 10-page report to the OJR Board of Directors in October 2020, former Philadelphia District Attorney Kelly B. Hodge explains how the district responds to teachers’ accusations of inappropriate behavior against students. There was a policy in place to control the policy, but previous complaints about Raught did not adhere to the policy.

Hodge reported that students and parents complained about Raught’s behavior in 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2015, including behavior that made female students feel “uncomfortable.” However, Hodge said the documents on the investigation of these allegations were “insufficient and lacking in detail.”

“There was no thorough investigation of each report,” said Hodge, a labor and employment lawyer at Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia. “Also, following known claims, there was inadequate oversight to ensure that there were no possible behavioral patterns.”

Hodge provided a set of district recommendations on how to handle future incidents, including informing students and parents of the resources available to file complaints with staff and teachers.

Raught was represented by Peter Daley II, a lawyer in Brownsville, a former state legislator in Fayette County.

To contact staff writer Michael P. Rerahan, call 610-696-1544.

Former Owen J. Roberts teacher receives a split verdict for sexual assault

Source link Former Owen J. Roberts teacher receives a split verdict for sexual assault

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