"If you take advantage of a position of trust and prey on young people, you will be brought to justice," the DA said

By Chris Harris
June 21, 2019 11:48 AM
Ruth and Nick Baggetta leaving court earier this week
WNEP

A married Pennsylvania couple who were both teachers were convicted of sexually assaulting a female teenage student who came forward in 2018 about her years of abuse.

PEOPLE confirms with prosecutors that on Wednesday, Nick and Ruth Baggetta were convicted of single counts of institutional sexual assault, endangering a welfare of a child, corruption of minor and furnishing alcohol to minors.

In addition, Ruth was found guilty on a fifth count of failure to report child abuse.

The couple will be sentenced in the coming months.

Nick, 30, faces a maximum of 22 years in state prison while Ruth, 37, could spend 29 years behind bars.

Jurors sided with the prosecution, finding that the Baggettas engaged in a sexual relationship with a teenage student Ruth had met while employed as a music and band teacher at Lakeland School District. At the time, Nick was a teacher at Fell Charter School near Carbondale.

The victim, now 19, was 16 when the illicit sexual contact began.

According to investigators, the inappropriate relationship continued for nearly two years from 2016 to 2017.

The victim told police she’d had inappropriate sexual contact with Nick on more than 20 occasions.

According to local reports, the teen testified Monday that Ruth encouraged her to have sex with Nick, whom she was engaged to.

The Scranton Times-Tribune reports Ruth told Nick to “get it out of his system” before they married.

The paper also reports the defense had argued that the couple was merely trying to help the teen deal with mental health concerns.

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Dozens of text messages exchanged between the teen and the two defendants was presented as evidence during the trial.

While not sexual in nature, the messages were grossly inappropriate, prosecutors said.

PEOPLE was unable to determine if their lawyers plan to appeal the verdict.

Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell said that Wednesday verdict “sends a message loud and clear that if you take advantage of a position of trust and prey on young people, you will be brought to justice.”

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