PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Former Plum teacher Joseph Ruggieri, accused of institutional sexual assault, has been granted house arrest but with the restriction of no contact with witnesses and no internet or cell phone availability in his home during house arrest.
Ruggieri, wearing the red uniform of an inmate, appeared before Allegheny County Judge Edward Borkowski via video conference this morning as his attorney argued for bail modification.
Ruggieri’s bail was revoked when police alleged he made contact with a witness via FaceTime.
“With the allegations being made, one of the ways someone can contact another person is through email,” said defense attorney Randall Ricciuti. “And without computer, having access to email, that eliminates that threat. Also, with smartphones, you can also send emails through smartphones as everyone is aware, so we’ll make sure there’s no cell phone, computers, so there won’t be any of these allegations.”
Ruggieri turned himself in to police in March, after he was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student.
Police say he and a female student frequently met outside of the school.
According to the criminal complaint, the female student told police Ruggieri also invited her to his home, where they had sex on several occasions.
Following the arrest, additional charges were filed when he allegedly contacted the student several times using FaceTime.
Through FaceTime, he’s accused of telling the victim: “My livelihood will be ruined.” “My kid’s life will be ruined.” “I miss you.”
For that, he was charged with witness intimidation.
Investigators believe Ruggieri may have also been involved with other victims over a period of several years.
Ruggieri has been removed from the school.
As Ruggieri awaits a preliminary hearing, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports a former Plum School District employee emailed board members that the district was warned two years ago about possible inappropriate behavior among teachers within the district.
Ruggieri’s lawyer though had little comment about that.