Art teacher at Bethlehem school accused of kissing student

BETHLEHEM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Police continue to investigate after a local middle school art teacher was accused of inappropriately touching a student.

Peter Ruggiero, 45, is on paid administrative leave from the Bethlehem Central School District after a student claimed he had inappropriate contact with her. Court documents say the incident did not take place at the school, but rather at Ruggiero’s Delmar home.

The young student said he asked her to come to his home to see some animals, and then she said he made her extremely uncomfortable when he kissed her.

According to court documents, a young student said on Monday evening, Ruggiero asked if she wanted to see his rabbits in his backyard. She said he also asked her to be part of a school club he was starting with his most talented artists.

The girl told police that she was petting one of the rabbits when Ruggiero asked her if she was okay. She said while looking down at a baby rabbit, Ruggiero told her to look up at him and then took her chin in his hand and kissed her on the lips.

Peter Ruggiero (Bethlehem PD)
Peter Ruggiero (Bethlehem PD)

The girl said Ruggiero started talking about the rabbits again, and she said she had to leave because she was needed for dinner. She said she went home and cried and was very upset, and then told her mother.

Ruggiero was arrested and charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child and Harassment.

Superintendent Thomas Douglas said the following in a statement:

“Student safety and well-being are the district’s top priority. Whether the reported incident takes place inside or outside of school. We do not tolerate staff misconduct with students in any form and will investigate any allegation.”

The district’s full release on the alleged incident can be found on its website.

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