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Text messages show teacher wanted love, student wanted car

Ex-teacher Stephanie Ragusa is accused of sex with middle school students.

Ex-teacher Stephanie Ragusa is accused of sex with middle school students.

TAMPA — In March, Stephanie Ragusa sent a text message to a former middle school student, one of hundreds of messages the pair would trade.

"I loved today," she wrote, according to court documents released Thursday. "The sex was amazing."

The boy replied, "YES I KNOW!"

"I keep smiling about it thinking about it," she said. "U know. Those smiles u love to see and I only do around u!"

She depended on him in sickness: He told her to text him when she was throwing up. She thought of him even in the possibility of her death: She bequeathed a portion of her life insurance to him.

Her handwritten will and the text message records were included in pages of discovery material prosecutors released.

The evidence portrays Ragusa as a woman trying to prod a sometimes angry teen into an adult relationship. She talked about planning romantic dates and having heart-to-heart talks. He talked about the money she was going to give him for a car. And they both talked about sex.

"I love you. Hurry back. Miss u already," Ragusa said in a March 1 text message.

"I JUST left calm down," the boy responded 35 seconds later.

Ragusa, 29, has been charged with having sex with two male students at Davidsen Middle School. She has been in jail since April 28 after detectives caught her leaving the home of a prior victim, her third arrest on sex charges since March.

The material released Thursday relates to just one victim, a boy who turned 16 while Ragusa had an alleged relationship with him. Investigators have DNA from the boy, Ragusa and a T-shirt, records show. The boy told detectives the two had sex more than 100 times after meeting in February 2007 at school. Ragusa wrote the boy's parents a memo on school district letterhead saying he had been selected for mentoring.

On March 2, Ragusa sent the teen a text wanting to meet up.

Ragusa: "Lets try to do something romantic, different."

Teen: "Like wat?"

Ragusa: "Idk. Can you think of anything. Maybe … giving each other massages? Candle light. Music. Or pleasant/romantic movie."

Teen: "Then come over."

Ragusa: "With massage oil? Candles? Towels? Movie?"

Teen: "Idk whatever u want?"

Ragusa: "Tell me what u want."

The text messages show her struggling with jealousy and the need to be near the teen.

"U need to start making me happy," the teen said.

"I'm seriously trying," Ragusa replied. "I'm sorry but sometimes it seems impossible to make u happy. And then I become unhappy."

On April 12, as her legal woes deepened, she told the boy she couldn't take it.

"I'm hurting so bad," she said. "I give up. I can't win. My life will never be good and happy again. And I'm losing my love every day that we r apart."

Three days later, messages tell the teen Ragusa attempted suicide with anxiety pills. The messages were sent from her phone by someone claiming to be another person.

In her will, Ragusa left a portion of her life insurance policy to the teenager and ordered the rest to go to her autistic brother's trust. She said she wanted a funeral like her late mother Angela's with candles and flowers and wanted to be cremated with a teaspoon of ashes thrown into the Gulf of Mexico and the "Roman forum in Italy."

Ragusa urged the teenager, now 16, to finish school. "I cannot believe how lucky I was to have met you. Deep down, you are so warm + caring. Meet your potential, find love, happiness + and a family of your own," she wrote. "U deserve no less."

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

Text messages show teacher wanted love, student wanted car 08/07/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 14, 2008 4:45pm]
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