PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Allegheny County District Attorney addressed the recent string of teacher-student alleged sexual relations stemming from Plum Area schools.
“It does not become open season on a student because you turn 18,” said DA Stephen Zappala during a press conference Thursday.READ MORE: Parents Watch Clairton-Leechburg Football Game From Outside The Stadium
Just Wednesday a third Plum teacher, 40-year-old Drew Zoldak, was charged with trying to intimidate an 18-year-old student who a fellow teacher is accused of having sex with.
That teacher, 40-year-old Joseph Ruggieri, was arrested in February and accused of also trying to intimidate the victim several times using FaceTime. Jason Cooper, 38, was also arrested in February on charges he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with an 18-year-old female student.
When asked if the current administration has been cooperative with the ongoing investigations, Zappala said, “we’ll see.”
Plum school Superintendent Dr. Timothy Glasspool spoke to KDKA-TV’s Harold Hayes about the ongoing sex scandal in the district for the first time since a third teacher was arrested.
Hayes asked Glasspool, “Should the district have known more? Should the district have done more? Are there things the district could have done or should have done?”
“I think it’s important for the community to know that we’ve cooperated fully with the police and everything that I’ve done has been above board,” he replied. “Everything the administration has done has been on the level and we’ve worked with the police in conjunction, facilitating their investigation.”
Two of the three teachers have been charged with having sexual relations with students. It’s caused questions about how officials have responded. The superintendent defends the response.
“In this day and age people want social media justice almost,” said Glasspool. “They want it right now and in this era of immediacy it can’t always happen right now and the judicial process is slow.”
The third teacher, Zoldak, is charged with witness intimidation.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Will You See Another Relief Payment Soon?
He is accused of exposing the identity of the alleged victim in the Joseph Ruggieri case to her classmates while she was present.
“Well it’s almost like the first arrest was challenging,” said the superintendent. “It was a shock. And when we came forward with our information and cooperated with the police department on that, it led to another one. And then the most recent arrest, the statement to the – alleged statements that were made in class – those statements when I read them in the criminal complaint were appalling.”
Plum Police Chief Jeff Armstrong says that’s why they took that case so seriously.
“That was a concern to us and that certainly plays into why we took it as seriously as we did, as far as that individual being pointed out in that environment amongst her peers,” he said.
Zappala called Zoldak’s comments “incredibly callous” after Zoldak implied his victim was also responsible, telling investigators, “It takes two to tango.”
And has a theory about the Zoldak case.
“We think it was actually an attempt to keep her – to embarrass her in front of her peers, so that she would not proceed and talk to a judge or a jury about how it is that she became a victim of that type of crime,” Zappala said.
But Zappala says he has not yet determined how much past or current administrations knew about alleged sexual relationships and when they knew it.
He does say, though that no additional teachers are under investigation right now, but there could be more victims.MORE NEWS: UPMC Children's Hospital Leaders Say Hospital Will Not Turn Kids Away Or Ration Care Amid Increase In Patients