Teaching board mulls case of convicted sex offender
The provincial REGINA teachers’ regulatory body is considering the case of Troy Ruzicka, an Estevan high school teacher who was convicted in November of sex offences against three former students.
At a Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board disciplinary hearing in Regina on Wednesday afternoon, Ruzicka was not present, nor was his lawyer Matt Schmeling. The discipline committee will consider the evidence and issue a written decision at a later date.
Contacted by phone, Schmeling said Ruzicka is imprisoned in the Prince Albert penitentiary, as far as he knows, and that his client is hard to reach.
Ruzicka was sentenced in an Estevan courtroom on Nov. 20 to five years.
He pleaded guilty on Sept. 11 to seven criminal charges, including two counts of sexual assault, three counts of luring, one count of sexual exploitation and one count of accessing child pornography.
The board notified Ruzicka of the disciplinary hearing on Jan. 15, but he did not issue a plea, whether guilty or not guilty.
“The professional conduct committee felt that … there needed to be a regulatory response in this case because of the nature of the allegations,” board registrar Trevor Smith said.
No witnesses were present. Lawyer Brenda Hildebrandt, representing the Saskatchewan Professional Teachers Regulatory Board professional conduct committee, presented the facts of Ruzicka’s case.
The offences occurred between March 1, 2014, and Jan. 9, 2016.
Ruzicka, 42, was teaching an autobody class at Estevan Comprehensive School.
He had a temporary teaching permit, which was renewed annually.
Posing as a minor through a fake Facebook profile, Ruzicka conversed online with the three students and pushed them into sexual relationships with him.
He had sex with two of the girls — one on a weekly basis, usually at the school, for about 18 months.
In February 2017, the school and South East Cornerstone School Division became aware of Ruzicka’s conduct and ended his employment, terminating his contract in March.
While Ruzicka has been criminally convicted, Smith said an “accused has the right to have his allegations heard in a public forum.”
“When you’re looking at the potential of taking a person’s livelihood away by revoking a certificate, or in this case (potentially) prohibiting a person from applying for a temporary teaching permit in the future, you have to adhere to those principles,” he added.
Hildebrandt said the discipline committee must, through its decision, send a message to the public that “this kind of conduct is unacceptable.”
She said Ruzicka “crossed a significant ethical line” regarding a student-teacher relationship.