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  1. #1
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    Teacher/student sex scandal leads to police "threats" at school assembly

    http://www.wtae.com/news/school-offi...ation/32553122

    This is an on-going investigation taking place in a municipality near me. Three male high school teachers have been arrested, two for having sex with female students and all three for intimidating witnesses. The third was arrested just this week - at the school during the school day - because he identified and ridiculed one of the victims IN HIS CLASS in front of the entire class.

    Now, word has gotten out that two assemblies were held at the high school last Friday, one for 9th and 10th grade students and the second for 11th and 12th grade students. Speaking at the assemblies were the high school principal and two police officers, one of whom is the chief of police.

    The students were told that if they tweet or even talk about the investigation into this scandal they can be arrested. That teachers at the school have been directed to report anyone who is talking about the subject.

    At the above link is the chief of police being interviewed about the contents of the assembly by a local reporter. Also at the link is another link to a surreptitious recording of what was actually said at one of the assemblies. The recording was provided to the media.

    http://www.wtae.com/news/school-offi...ation/32553122

    "Pittsburgh's Action News 4 played the recording for Sara Rose, a local ACLU staff attorney.

    "The tone, the threats of criminal charges are intended to silence the students," Rose said. "That's not the role of the police. That's not the role of school officials. Students have First Amendment rights too."

    She added, "Absolutely, I think that all of the officials here overstepped their authority. Threatening people with criminal charges for protected speech is unconstitutional."

  2. #2
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    I wonder if they are trying to protect the female victims in this case from ridicule from classmates.I realize people will be upset claiming first admendment rights but you could look at it like how the media does not print/post victims names with sexual assault.
    Last edited by cuffem; 04-24-2015 at 08:57 PM. Reason: spelling

  3. #3
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    This sounds just like the information control that happens here in Australia as part of the legal process. It's a strange thing to happen in America. I'm really curious as to why this is happening.

    If the police have good reasons for clamping down on the students that way, I hope they've made those clear to both students and their parents. And I hope they're *really* good reasons!

    The teacher outing and intimidating a victim in class is terrible... just speechless.
    _____________
    Everything I have posted at this website, past or present, represents my opinion or my understanding of events based on facts that are publicly available.

  4. #4
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    LE Stmts at School Assembly

    Briefly, imo, Police Chief & LEO stmts were not well worded, but I'm not necessarily ascribing ill intent to them.
    They encourage students w info, i.e., facts, re the cases to come to LE. They discourage students from communicating
    their opinions, esp on SM.
    What a nightmare - for LE to try to track & investigate all SM on a case like this.
    If defense counsel finds a SM post - "Sally Student (victim) told me she never had ~special relationship w Teacher (Def),"
    and cross examines LE witnesses about whether they interviewed this poster, well, points for defense team.
    Hopefully students w factual info will go to LE with it.

    Transcript of LE's stmts at school assembly. My comments in green, also w bbm:
    http://www.wtae.com/news/audio-and-t...cials/32556026 April 24

    PLUM, PA —(CHIEF ARMSTRONG, PLUM PD SPEAKING)
    Comments about any victim or witness involved in any investigation that the Plum Borough Police Department is conducting up here that will be considered a crime and it will be dealt with as a crime....

    ^This seems to be an oversimplified, overgeneralized inaccurate stmt, imo.

    If you make these sort of comments, you're basically standing up in the Twitter-sphere and saying look at me I want to get involved. And i can promise you that we will fulfill your wish and at some point officers from the police department or the District attorney's office will be knocking on your door and asking you and your parents to explain why you said what you said, how you knew that, and why you did it.
    And if... please don’t think naive to think that the police department isn’t aware of the tweets and the other social media posts out there... I can show you right now on my phone a couple of tweets from students in this school that have made about the reference to the investigation up here.... And i can assure you that before you finish lunch I can know who those accounts belong too... This is a very serious matter.
    The bottom line is this, 99% of you in this school have no involvement in this issue nor should you but there are two groups of people here that really have: people that have the information of what is going on that is relevant to the investigation, that would be helpful to us that we would want to know. And to those people, I ask you to come forward to Officer Little or the police department because we want to hear from you.
    The other group of people is people that choose to unnecessarily get involved in this investigation by making immature, malicious, unfounded, irrational, irresponsible posting on twitter or other social media... You are asking to get to involved and you will get involved... And if the District Attorney’s Office deems that what you choose to do is a crime, you can be charged.
    To those of you who don’t fall into one of those two categories which as I said is most of you, all I can ask you to do is to put this stuff behind you, ignore it, don't get involved, and try to enjoy the last four to five weeks of this school year that you can.
    I want to thank you for your time this morning and I want to hand it over to Officer Little.

    ^
    bbm Seems Chief is asking ---
    1 - those w info re the case to come to PD. Approp, imo.

    2- those without info not to talk & post on SM about it.
    Unfortunately seems he should have more specific, imo, by adding something like
    -talking & posting your thoughts & opinions in certain ways about it might be viewed as
    trying to intimidate victims or witnesses, to not testify or to testify differently.
    And if the DA sees those communications as victim/witness intimidation, ppl can be criminally charged. True, imo.
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________

    (OFFICER JOE LITTLE, PLUM PD SPEAKING)

    Just real brief, I want to echo again what the chief said... I want to see everyone in here succeed; you guys are 11th and 12th graders and close the end, lets finish strong. Get this year behind you and go on to bigger things.
    I do want to say that we're going to add also that conversations in the hallways, or graffiti in this school referring to these kinds of; referring to this investigation is also included as well as the social media usage. But please respect your classmates; please respect what’s going on here. Let’s keep the chatter at a minimum, because it all can come back criminally.
    My last thing I want to say is everyone in here has an opinion I'm sure so keep that opinion to yourself and know that your opinion is based on speculation and assumption.... Speculation and assumption; so let me give it back to Mr Kociela.

    Same applies to his stmt.

    JM2cts.
    (Mod- > 10% of linked article but just quoting what LE said, not what reporters wrote, so IIUC, no copyright issue).
    Last edited by al66pine; 04-24-2015 at 11:51 PM.

  5. #5
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    I'm not going to debate the kids first amendment rights. But I can kinda understand the LE reasons. They are already dealing with traumatized families, scared victims who are more afraid to talk. But as a former high school student (a long, long time ago) the more the story goes around the school, the more it grows. Which could take the investigation places that are unnecessarily and waste department resources. Not to mention possibly victimizing more students if rumors unfairly target them.

    It was probably ill advised on the the LE part. This would have probably traumaticized all the students in some ways. And the kids need each others support, as well as support from school teachers and administrators. And he has severely restricted that. And IMO he may have intimidated the students badly enough that they will now be afraid to come forward with info.

    But I understand why he tried it.
    Just when I think that I have seen the most depraved things a human can do to another human, somebody posts a new story...........

    Why is it that when a custodial parent fails to provide for a child it is called neglect and is a criminal matter. But when a non custodial parent fails to provide it is called failure to support and is a civil matter?


    "Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly" ~ Michelle Knight

  6. #6
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    Prinicpal's Stmt at School Assembly

    Briefly, imo, Prinicpal's stmt was not well worded, but I'm not necessarily ascribing ill intent to him.
    He encourages students w info, i.e., facts, re cases to come to LE and if school related to go to school admin.
    He discourages students from communicating on SM-- and imo, overstates, oversimplifies.

    How does a school prioritize & address these issues -
    - protect victims in these kinds of cases from ridicule/bullying by classmates? Parents file suits against schools for not doing.
    - allowing students to exercise 1st A'mt Right of Free Speech, while to discouraging them from witness-intimidation?

    What amounts to witness intimidation or victim intimidation? A student posting ---
    - on victim's FB "Sally, you are a first class slut; jury will never believe your lies about Tom Teacher having sex w you"
    - on witness's FB "Walter Witness, we know where you live & if you don't want your house burned down, you won't testify."
    Posting ^ on wit's or vic's FB, etc. seems relatively clear. What about student posting same ^ content on own FB or site?

    ^ Tough job balancing those two interests and school must also-
    - cooperate w LE in its investigation of cases.
    - not fail to provide info to LE, when teachers & school employees have info re these cases.
    Teachers & staff = Mandatory Reporters for Child Abuse, right?
    Would teacher-student sexual relations be actions reportable to CPS? IDK.

    A school failing to forward case info to LE helps teachers committing sexual assaults against students from crim.prosecution.
    Does a school want to face civil suits by student (& parents) alleging school knew of Teacher's S/As v student,
    but school did not forward info - to protect the teacher?
    __________________________________________________ _____________________________________________
    Transcript of Principal's stmts at school assembly. My comments in green, also w bbm:
    http://www.wtae.com/news/audio-and-t...cials/32556026 April 24
    (RYAN KOCIELA, PLUM SENIOR HS PRINCIPAL SPEAKING)I'm going to reiterate a lot of what Chief Armstrong and Officer Little are saying as well.... And again I canít emphasize enough that the police department and the Allegheny county district attorneyís office are prepared to arrest and charge individuals who engage in type of behavior....
    Iím strongly cautioning against texts, tweets, post, emails, conversations, or any other communications on any of these investigations in school.
    Your teachers have been directed to contact a principal with the names of any students engaging in these conversations during the class day. This has moved unfortunately beyond disruptive at times. The principal will then contact and report any circumstances and any names brought to our attention to the police for possible interviews and charges involved with that person.
    ^ This may seems heavy handed, but see above.

    On the other side of things, I want to reiterate something that the chief alluded to; if you do have any other information regarding these circumstances that is valid, legitimate, or something hat you have heard that is going on, please continue to report that to Off icier Litte, Plum Police, see one of the administrators if it is school related.
    If itís out of school related, one of the things that I think we have taken as strength from this sort of circumstances are that many of you are realizing that there are people opening to talk about circumstances here are the school, responsible people and the situations will be handled.
    You are absolutely encouraged to continue to report those things, any violations of any sort that you perceive, and anything that you have spoken to your parents about.
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________
    JM2cts.
    (Mod- > 10% of linked article but just quoting what LE said, not what reporters wrote, so IIUC, no copyright issue).

  7. #7
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    ACLU Atty Stmts re LE & Prinicipal Stmts at School Assembly

    Quote Originally Posted by AlwaysShocked View Post
    ....http://www.wtae.com/news/school-offi...ation/32553122
    "Pittsburgh's Action News 4 played the recording for Sara Rose, a local ACLU staff attorney.
    "The tone, the threats of criminal charges are intended to silence the students," Rose said. "That's not the role of the police. That's not the role of school officials. Students have First Amendment rights too."
    She added, "Absolutely, I think that all of the officials here overstepped their authority. Threatening people with criminal charges for protected speech is unconstitutional."
    sbm & bbm

    True, students have 1st A'mt rights, and schools are limited in restraining or suppressing those rights.
    Imo LEOs and principal who spoke to assembly could & should have worded their stmts more carefully.
    Could/should have stressed school, imo -
    - does not want to impair judicial process, esp re case w teachers & student.
    - has obligation to provide info to LE, etc.
    - wants to provide safe environment for students.
    - cannot foster environment w victim or witness intimidation. Victim or witness intimidation is not protected speech.
    Like, yelling "Fire!" in a crowded school auditorium. JM2cts.

  8. #8
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    Thanks to all who have posted such well-reasoned responses here. This case does present a number of dilemmas. But these same dilemmas are what the world is about nowadays. So we will likely see more and more of this in the future.

    Several things really bother me about the whole thing:

    1.) The person who violated the rights of one of the victims was THE THIRD TEACHER - perhaps a friend of the other two idiots. Humiliated the poor girl in front of the entire class. When I first heard this teacher was arrested at the school, during the school day, I wondered why the arrest would have been done in such a public way. Then I heard the details of how he had treated the victim. So I guess maybe the DA's office decided to give him a taste of his own medicine?

    2.) At no time during the months this has been ongoing - since either Jan or Feb when the first teacher was arrested - has there been any attempt to communicate with either the student body or the community members. Everything was "no comment, no comment". Then, when they do decide to communicate with the students, rather than have a professional counselor speak - at least to acknowledge to the kids that this is traumatic to everyone - they instead have two cops and a principal who comes off like a mini-Hitler trying to somehow browbeat the kids into silence. (Yeah, like THAT'S going to work. Just try to stop a few thousand teenagers from texting and tweeting.)

    3.) That high school principal is standing in front of these young people disseminating seemingly deliberate misinformation of a very serious nature. Or else he is very, very stupid. Probably both.

    4.) The police chief immediately implied to the TV reporter that the kids were either lying to their parents or totally misunderstood what was said at the school assembly. They weren't and they didn't.
    Police chief never thought anyone would record this? Where has he been living? He ends up looking stupid too.

    All I can say is this is one of the most mismanaged "crises" I have witnessed in a long time. And it is far from over.

    Teacher #1 - Has not had a preliminary hearing yet.

    Teacher #2 - Outcome of preliminary hearing = held for trial

    Teacher #3 - Has not had a preliminary hearing yet.

    Oh, and the school district is down three teachers.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ausgirl View Post
    This sounds just like the information control that happens here in Australia as part of the legal process. It's a strange thing to happen in America. I'm really curious as to why this is happening.

    If the police have good reasons for clamping down on the students that way, I hope they've made those clear to both students and their parents. And I hope they're *really* good reasons!

    The teacher outing and intimidating a victim in class is terrible... just speechless.
    If they were sued and it went to court in a civil trial, these officials/employers would end up with a judgment against them. But until someone tells them to shut up, some people cannot figure it out on their own.
    "If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it."
    - John Irving in A Prayer for Owen Meany

    Unless I provide a link or refer to a specific link, all my ramblings are theories, speculation, scenarios based on what info is available and my own unique life experiences.

  10. #10
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    How old are these teachers? Is there any psychological testing done before hiring people in a profession that gives them a job for life? The only "profession" that does this? I say part of the problem is an overly powerful teachers union. Are there parent's of female teenage hs students in this school who want their kids to have any of these guys for a teacher next year?
    In law school I learned even the appearance of impropriety, with nothing having happened, is enough to lose your law license. Unless you are in a teacher's union or a Clinton, I guess.
    "If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it."
    - John Irving in A Prayer for Owen Meany

    Unless I provide a link or refer to a specific link, all my ramblings are theories, speculation, scenarios based on what info is available and my own unique life experiences.


  11. #11
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    Incident #1 - Male 38 yr. old teacher. Married. Began "relationship" with 17 yr. old who is now 18. A teacher overheard students discussing a text about this "relationship" and reported this info, which led to his arrest. Charged with institutional sexual abuse among other charges. Later, he was re-arrested and charged with witness intimidation after contacting the victim in violation of no contact order.

    Incident #2 - During investigation of Incident #1, Incident #2 turned up. Different teacher, 40 yr. old male, single but apparently has a child. He was arrested and charged with institutional sexusal abuse. He also was re-arrested and charged with witness intimidation after contacting victim in violation of no contact order. Victim is under 18 and still attending high school. She was outed to classroom by the third teacher.

    Incident #3 - 40 yr. old male teacher, he griped to his high school class that he missed class last Friday "because of her", pointing to victim. Then went on to make further remarks about her. He was arrested at the school and charged with witness intimidation.

    A spokesperson for the DA's office has made clear there are indications that teacher involved in #2 may have messed with other girls in prior years. Announced they are expanding their investigation and will be interviewing students, teachers, and administrators.

    And that's when the gestapo-like assemblies took place.

    Here's a reaction piece about them with quotes from constitutional law professors and from the DA's office:
    http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/8...#axzz3YIGfd33Z

    It seems that the rumor that is most bothersome to school administrators is that the behaviors of these teachers was not unknown within the school. The DA investigators are apparently looking for a cover up on the part of administrators. The guy giving the harangue in the audio tape, telling the students the police will be sent to their door, is the High School principal.

    "Kociela [the principal] said he has asked teachers to listen for students discussing the investigation.

    “Teachers are to contact the principal with names of anyone communicating about police investigations during the school day,” he said. “We will send those individuals' names to the police."

    Kociela also had teachers patrolling the aisles of the auditorium during the assemblies, looking for students with cell phones.

    Very, very creepy!
    Last edited by AlwaysShocked; 04-25-2015 at 11:18 PM.

  12. #12
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    What would Ideal Response from School Be?

    Me in green again. Mos-def a difficult situation all the way around.
    Quote Originally Posted by AlwaysShocked View Post
    ....
    2.) At no time during the months this has been ongoing - since either Jan or Feb when the first teacher was arrested - has there been any attempt to communicate with either the student body or the community members. Everything was "no comment, no comment". Then, when they do decide to communicate with the students, rather than have a professional counselor speak - at least to acknowledge to the kids that this is traumatic to everyone - they instead have two cops and a principal who comes off like a mini-Hitler trying to somehow browbeat the kids into silence. (Yeah, like THAT'S going to work. Just try to stop a few thousand teenagers from texting and tweeting.)

    Forgive me for being dense about this.
    What communication do you think the school could make? Something about merits of crim procedure? IDTS.
    W. students?
    W. community?
    How? Media releases? Media interviews?
    School's website, FB, IG?
    Given by who?
    "...professional counselor speak - at least to acknowledge to the kids that this is traumatic to everyone..."
    And what else would the content be?
    Not saying it's bad idea, quite to the contrary, just trying to imagine, who, what, how etc. Sincere questions.

    About getting students to stop SM, like you say, good luck w that.

    3.) That high school principal is standing in front of these young people disseminating seemingly deliberate misinformation of a very serious nature. Or else he is very, very stupid. Probably both.
    Re-reading the Pr's stmts, seems worse than first time I read.

    4.) The police chief immediately implied to the TV reporter that the kids were either lying to their parents or totally misunderstood what was said at the school assembly. They weren't and they didn't.
    Police chief never thought anyone would record this? Where has he been living? He ends up looking stupid too.
    Ditto LE stmts, esp if he thought vid w/not be on youtube, SM. ...
    sbm bbm
    .

  13. #13
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    "....said Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.: “We have no indication at this point in the investigation that either the student victims or student witnesses have been on the receiving end of threatening or harassing communications from other students. In fact, we believe that there are a large number of students willing to work with our office in order to assist this investigation.”
    http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/8...#ixzz3YNklIyEf

    ^ Glad that students are cooperating to assist LE & prosecution.

    [QUOTE=AlwaysShocked;11724448]....It seems that the rumor that is most bothersome to school administrators is that the behaviors of these teachers was not unknown within the school. The DA investigators are apparently looking for a cover up on the part of administrators....[/QUOTE] bbm sbm

    That ^ is disturbing.


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by al66pine View Post
    Me in green again. Mos-def a difficult situation all the way around.
    sbm bbm
    .
    These guys no longer being employed in a situation where they have free access to minors & are guaranteed a job for life. That would be the ideal response. The police just need to investigate and charge and try if they are able. That response would be a good outcome to me.
    "If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it."
    - John Irving in A Prayer for Owen Meany

    Unless I provide a link or refer to a specific link, all my ramblings are theories, speculation, scenarios based on what info is available and my own unique life experiences.

  15. #15
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    ".) That high school principal is standing in front of these young people disseminating seemingly deliberate misinformation of a very serious nature. Or else he is very, very stupid. Probably both.

    al66pine's comment: Re-reading the Pr's stmts, seems worse than first time I read."

    Did you listen to the audio recording of it? It is even WORSE when you hear him!

    As for content of what any professional counselor should say in speaking about this event to a group - which could have been done in the assembly format - not being a professional psychologist or counselor I cannot say for sure.

    But if I were to guess I would think it should include:

    1.) An honest accounting of the facts that are known
    2.) Acknowledgement that these events are disturbing to everyone involved - the victims, the students, their parents, the teachers and school administrators, members of the community, etc.
    3.) Acknowledgement that communicating about one's feelings when one is upset is often a good thing. It can help to process feelings of being upset.
    4.) Discussion of the criminal nature of the acts that took place within their school. Honest presentation of their rights as students to be protected from criminal acts within their schools.
    5.) Discussion of helpful communications vs. unhelpful communications in general. Discussion of terms such as bullying and harassment via communications.
    6.) Then an honest plea for assistance of students by police and principal so they can take back their school.

    This is just a rough of idea, I'm sure an adolescent psychologist would or a professional crisis manager would know much better than I do about such things. But I do think communication of truth and acknowledgement of feelings is considered to be essential in dealing with a "crisis situation". Whether it be with adults or "young adults", speaking in a threatening tone and basically turning a high school into a "police state" - with teachers patrolling aisles looking for cell phones and eavesdropping on student conversations in order to make reports to the principal so he can then give a list of names to the police - SHEESH!

    I strongly feel THIS school district and THIS police department totally screwed up. And quite frankly, as a local, it does make one wonder what exactly it is that the principal and the police chief seem so anxious to quell.

    ----------------------------------

    wendy: To answer your questions, I don't know about psychological testing as a job requirement for teachers, but I doubt it. They are members of a teacher's union. And FWIW the teachers in this particular district are the second highest paid in Allegheny County. And yet Plum Borough is nowhere near the second highest in income in the county.

    I do not believe the teacher's union will "stand behind" a person convicted of institutional sexual assault on a student. The teacher in Incident #2 was the vice-president of the union within the district, by the way. He was immediately replaced. Then his replacement promptly went on to send an email to all local union members giving them "legal advice" that was not approved by the legal dept. of the union at the state level. So they then sent ANOTHER email that contradicted the first one, saying "this is not our policy".


    In all of this it does sound like the District Attorney's office is on the ball. And it sounds like if there was a cover up they will find it.
    Last edited by AlwaysShocked; 04-26-2015 at 05:45 PM.

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