Nick and Ruth Baggetta have always maintained their innocence, even as they were sentenced Tuesday

By Chris Harris
January 15, 2020 12:08 PM
Advertisement
Credit: WNEP

Married former Pennsylvania teachers who were convicted last June of sexually assaulting a female teenage student over a two-year period will both go to prison for years.

According to online court records, Nick Baggetta, 31, and his wife, 37-year-old Ruth Baggetta, were in court Tuesday, where he was sentenced to four and a half to nine years in prison and she was sentenced to two and a half to six years. Both will be on probation upon their releases.

Nick had been facing a maximum of 22 years in state prison while Ruth could have spent 29 years behind bars.

The couple were arrested in 2018 after the victim came forward about her years of abuse.

They were both convicted of institutional sexual assault, endangering a welfare of a child, corruption of minor and furnishing alcohol to minors. Additionally, Ruth was found guilty on a fifth count of failure to report child abuse.

Starting in 2016, the Baggettas engaged in a sexual relationship with a 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 was 16 when the sexual contact began. The abuse stopped in 2017.

At trial, the victim testified that Ruth encouraged her to have sex with Nick, whom she was engaged to. According to prosecutors, Ruth told Nick to “get it out of his system” before they married.

From the beginning, the couple has denied abusing the teen, and claim they were merely trying to help her deal with personal issues.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE’s free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell approved of the sentences, reports WNEP.

“I believe it sends a clear message to anybody that’s entrusted with the welfare of children that if they breach that trust, they’re going to be held accountable,” Powell said, according to the station.

Before their sentences were announced, Ruth addressed the judge, saying, “We never should have allowed her into our lives. We thought we were helping, but all we were doing was opening ourselves up to this situation.”

WNEP reports Nick said in court, “If I ever said anything or did anything to make her upset, I only meant the best.”

Before both were taken into custody, Judge Michael Barresse said the Baggettas had “taken a young woman who had mental health and emotional issues, and you were able to target her, groom her, and abuse her.”

According to reports, the couple’s young daughter watched as they were led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.