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Warrant details teacher-student trysts

Stephanie Ragusa is charged with five counts of battery.

Stephanie Ragusa is charged with five counts of battery.

TAMPA — The teacher was in a wheelchair when she first met the boy and told him she could help him overcome his shyness.

Stephanie Ragusa had a broken foot, detectives say, and the 14-year-old student was assigned to wheel her around Davidsen Middle School.

When he pushed her wheelchair onto an elevator, she told him he seemed shy. Then, detectives say, Ragusa told him she could help break him of that.

That afternoon, she brought the boy to her apartment and had sex with him — the first of three such encounters they would have between October 2006 and May 2007, according to sheriff's detectives.

Details about Ragusa's sexual relationship with a student were released Thursday as part of a search warrant filed by Hillsborough sheriff's detectives in Circuit Court.

The warrant says the boy described the sex as consensual, but Ragusa is currently charged with five felony charges of lewd and lascivious battery for activities with the minor.

The first time they had sex, the boy ditched an after-school program he was expected to attend, the warrant document says.

Ragusa, now 28, got him back to Davidsen in time for his step-mother to pick him up.

Over the next several weeks, detectives wrote, Ragusa and the boy spoke over the phone.

One night, while the boy's parents were sleeping, the teacher picked the boy up around the corner from his house and they had sex in the back seat of her silver Lexus SUV, the report states.

The last reported sexual encounter took place the night of the boy's eighth-grade dance, May 4, 2007.

The boy said he skipped the dance, got a ride from Ragusa to an after-hours party, then she drove him to Gant Road, in Carrollwood, where they had sex again, detectives say.

The boy described to detectives two tattoos — a flower and possibly a butterfly — in Ragusa's groin area that they said would be visible only without clothes, as well as a gecko on her back.

Hillsborough sheriff's detectives requested the search warrant to obtain pictures of Ragusa's body as well as DNA samples and fingerprints from her Lexus.

Ragusa, who was hired by the school district in 2006, faces five felony charges of lewd and lascivious battery, one for each sexual act involving the child, who deputies say turned 15 over the course of their relationship.

Ragusa of Lake Bella Vista Drive in Tampa was working at Martinez Middle as a math teacher when the charges against her were filed.

She has been suspended without pay from her teaching job. Records indicate the arrest wasn't the first time Ragusa had problems in her short time as a Hillsborough teacher.

During her first semester in the classroom, the principal reported her to the Child Abuse Hotline. During her second year, at her third school, that principal accused her of using profanity and telling students about her personal life.

Tampa attorney Robert Herce, listed as Ragusa's attorney in jail records, did not return a message left with his receptionist Thursday.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3383.

Warrant details teacher-student trysts 04/03/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 10, 2008 10:57am]
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