Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lawyer for Hillsborough teacher in sex case seeks to bar steamy text messages

TAMPA — Stephanie Ragusa's attorney says authorities illegally obtained steamy text messages traded between the former teacher and a middle school student.

Lawyer Robert Herce is asking a judge to suppress the messages, the first step in what he hopes will be a successful effort to undermine at least half of the state's sex case against his client.

Ragusa, 30, is accused of having sex with two male students at Davidsen Middle School. She has been in jail 548 days awaiting trial.

While the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office investigated allegations involving one of the boys, they sought and received court permission to obtain more than two weeks' worth of Ragusa's cell phone records from March 2008.

Those records included hundreds of "very incriminating" exchanges between Ragusa and a second boy, according to Herce's motion.

"The sex was amazing," Ragusa wrote to the student in one exchange.

"YES I KNOW!" he replied.

But Herce argues that state law requires a search warrant rather than just a court order to get stored text messages released. And even if a judge decides that a court order was sufficient, Herce says authorities filed a flawed request in this case.

In the coming weeks, he and prosecutors will file written arguments about the motion to suppress with Hillsborough Circuit Judge Wayne Timmerman. The judge is expected to rule on Dec. 10.

"I think we have a substantial likelihood of success with this motion," Herce said Tuesday.

If he prevails, he said he will argue that the other evidence authorities gathered against Ragusa in the case of the second teen is poisoned because it resulted from the ill-gotten text messages.

The prosecutor handling the case did not return calls for comment.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

Lawyer for Hillsborough teacher in sex case seeks to bar steamy text messages 10/27/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 11:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Five reasons why Kentucky can beat Florida for the first time since 1986


    By Matt Baker

    GAINESVILLE — Florida's 30-game winning streak over Kentucky is one of the most impressive feats in the country.

    Florida Gators offensive lineman Martez Ivey (73) celebrates Florida Gators running back Mark Thompson's  (24) touch down in the first quarter, putting Florida on the board 6-0 during the game between the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times

  2. Once targeted by the Bucs, Dalvin Cook thrills for the Vikings


    How good would the Bucs be with running back Dalvin Cook?

    Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) slips a tackle by Steelers strong safety Sean Davis (28) to score a touchdown Sunday in Pittsburgh. [AP photo]
  3. Review: More than 20 years later, 'RENT' still matters


    TAMPA — Two decades after Rent shook up Broadway with a starkly joyous musical that demanded to be recognized, a nostalgic tour is taking audiences back.

    The 20th anniversary tour of RENT, shown in 2016, comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19-24, 2017. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  4. Dennis Miller, headed to Tampa with Bill O'Reilly: 'We don't know each other that well'


    Dennis Miller often gets cast as the odd comic out these days.

    Dennis Miller will perform with Bill O'Reilly at the Spin Stops Here Tour at Amalie Arena in Tampa. [Spuffy Productions]
  5. Tampa Bay among top 25 metro areas with fastest growing economies

    Economic Development

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy among 382 metro areas in the country for 2016. According to an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tampa Bay's gross domestic product, or GDP, increased 4.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to hit $126.2 billion.

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy in the country for 2016. Rentals were one of the areas that contributed to Tampa Bay's GDP growth. Pictured is attorney David Eaton in front of his rental home.