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Ragusa to remain in jail through the holidays

TAMPA — Stephanie Ragusa, the former teacher accused of having sex with two students, had hoped to get out of jail Thursday.

Instead she will spend Christmas behind bars.

That's because a judge never got a motion from her attorney that she hoped would help spring her from the jail cell where she has spent more than a year awaiting trial.

The motion sought to suppress steamy text messages involving one of the two Davidsen Middle School teens with whom the 30-year-old is accused of having sex.

Ragusa's attorney, Robert Herce, contends that a search warrant was necessary to obtain his client's text messages, but prosecutors relied on a court order. So the evidence should be tossed, he argued.

If he had succeeded in his motion, Herce said he could have then pressed to release Ragusa on bail.

"She had hoped to go home today,'' Herce said.

But Circuit Judge Wayne Timmerman told Herce he never got the motion, which Herce said his secretary delivered last month.

Another hearing on the matter was scheduled for Jan. 14.

While the Hillsborough County 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 with 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.

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

Ragusa to remain in jail through the holidays 12/10/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 10, 2009 11:31pm]

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