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Plum H.S. Teacher To Stand Trial On Witness Intimidation Charges

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A Plum High School teacher accused of intimidating a witness in an ongoing investigation of another teacher having an inappropriate relationship with a student will stand trial.

KDKA's Amy Wadas: "Drew, do you have anything to say about these charges?"

Drew Zoldak, 40, declined to comment on the two counts of witness intimidation charges that were held for court on Wednesday. Zoldak is a forensics teacher at Plum High School.

According to police, Joseph Ruggieri, 40, was arrested in February on institutional sexual assault and corruption of a minor charges.

According to the criminal complaint, a female student told police Ruggieri, a teacher, invited her to his home, where they had sex on several occasions.

The victim in that case was a student in Zoldak's forensics class.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim told police she was singled out by Zoldak during class at Plum High School on April 20.

Zoldak addressed the class and allegedly said, "The reason I wasn't here on Friday is because two men in suits from the District Attorney's Office were asking me hundreds of questions."

At that time, a student asked why he was being questioned. Zoldak allegedly responded, "because of her," and pointed in the victim's direction.

Later, Zoldak called the victim to the front of the class and asked, "if she would be okay regarding next week's topic, which was sexual assault."

Zoldak's preliminary hearing wrapped up Wednesday morning after the student, the victim in the alleged sex assault case surrounding Ruggieri, gave tearful testimony in court.

KDKA's Amy Wadas: "Did you point out a victim in your class?"

Zoldak never replied.

During testimony, the victim went on to say that she "wanted to go away and hide" after Zoldak's alleged remarks to the class. She said the comments "kind of made me feel that I was doing the wrong thing, and I shouldn't cooperate" with authorities.

Zoldak's attorney feels only one side of the story is being told so far and they have plenty of witnesses to fight this in court.

"I don't think he pointed her out in front of the class the way she said he did. But that's something to be determined later. I can assure all of you that Drew Zoldak will fight this to the end because this is an unjust charge," defense attorney Al Lindsay said.

During an interview with detectives, "Zoldak implied to the detectives that the victim was partly responsible for the offense, stating, 'It takes two to tango.'"

His formal arraignment is scheduled for July 15.

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