Possible Emails About Teacher's Prior Sexual Misconduct Investigation May Have Been DeletedBy Amy Wadas


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There’s a new twist in the sex scandal involving teachers and students in the Plum Borough School District.

There now are questions about a previous investigation involving one of the teachers. Specifically, documents from that investigation. In fact, school officials can’t verify if any documentation from that investigation exists.

Plum Borough High School English teacher Joseph Ruggieri, 40, is set to go on trial in February on charges of institutional sexual assault, corruption of a minor and witness intimidation.

Ruggieri is accused of having sex with a student at his home on several occasions.

Before all of this in 2011, Ruggieri was being investigated for sexual misconduct.

When KDKA’s partners at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette requested documentation on that case, they were told it was unclear if any paperwork exists from that investigation.

This finding was called into question by an attorney for the high school’s former resource officer.

Plum Borough School District Solicitor Lee Price says he can’t speak for that attorney.

Price also says it’s unclear if records were indeed lost when the district switched over its email provider system.

At that time, employees were told they would lose all e-mail prior to the summer of 2012 and that they should save or download anything they viewed as important.

Although the mass deletion appears to violate district policy, Price says employees aren’t required by law to save e-mails, even if they’re involved in an investigation.

Price went on to say it’s not clear if any e-mails from the 2011 Ruggieri investigation even exist.

He says those records may not even be in electronic format.

Most likely, Price says whatever records do exist are already in the hands of investigators from the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office, from when they confiscated boxes of files in May.

District Attorney Stephen Zappala expects the grand jury to wrap up its investigation by the end of the year.

In addition to Ruggieri, two other Plum teachers being investigated for sexual assault and witness intimidation are expected to go on trial in February.

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