The sentence has been handed down to a former teacher at the Estevan Comprehensive School (ECS), nine months after being arrested by the Estevan Police Service (EPS) on March 3rd.
Troy Ruzicka, the former ECS autobody teacher who pleaded to guilty to sexual assault, sexual touching while in a position of trust, and other charges was sentenced in Estevan Provincial Courthouse Monday afternoon to five years in penitentiary.
Ruzicka, who was accompanied by his mother and sister listened as the Crown outlined the joint proposal with the defense and then read in the statement of facts. Along with details of how Mr. Ruzicka used his position at the school to lure students, it was also revealed that he did so using a fake Facebook profile, often messaging the students while at school.
The investigation began after allegations of inappropriate conduct were made to the Southeast Cornerstone School Division (SECSD) concerning a teaching staff member at the ECS on February 8th of this year.
There were four victim impact statements that were submitted the court. The first was read by a victim support worker, the second by a victim, the third by the mother of one of the victims and the fourth was filed with the court and not read aloud. Due to a publication ban, the names and ages of the victims will not be released. The victims spoke about the betrayal they felt at the hands of their former teacher, a person they trusted. They also spoke about the resulting damage and impact the assaults have had on their lives. The victim's mother spoke through tears about the damages Mr. Ruzicka caused not only her daughter, but her entire family.
The defense also had an opportunity to speak on behalf of Mr. Ruzicka. He submitted several letters of reference from friends and community members on his behalf detailing how the incidences were out of character of the person they knew. They also spoke about how he seemed depressed and withdrawn during this time. Mr. Ruzicka read a short statement apologizing for his actions and expressing his deep regret.
After considering the joint statement, the Judge decided to accept the joint statement of 5 years in a penitentiary. He expressed that Mr. Ruzicka knowingly targeted vulnerable students that he knew he could exploit. He shared that the amount of planning and his position as a teacher as well as the number of victim were all contributing factors to the sentence. However, he also noted that in the pre-sentence report, Mr. Ruzicka was found to be at a low risk to re-offend. As well, he has taken responsibility in entering a guilty plea which spares the victims, and the community, a lengthy trial. It was also noted that Mr. Ruzicka has reached out for counselling and plans to seek treatment while incarcerated.
After completing his five year behind bars, Mr. Ruzicka will be prohibited from possessing firearms for 10 years. He will be placed in the sexual offenders registry for 20 years. There were also other conditions set in place for 8 years regarding no contact with his victims, not to be in a place where children under 16 years of age would likely be such as a playground or daycare, and not to have employment or volunteer with children under 16 years of age. As well there are restrictions to his Internet use in relation to contacting those under 16 years of age and he is prohibited from using social media such as Facebook.
Following the conclusion of the Judge's sentencing, Mr. Ruzicka was placed into custody and led away.