Teach­ing board mulls case of con­victed sex of­fender

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY + REGION - ASH­LEY MARTIN amartin@post­media.com

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.

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