TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — A former Tampa school teacher, convicted in 2010 of having sex with two of her students, was released from prison Wednesday, Department of Corrections records show.
Stephanie Ragusa was sentenced to 10 years but got out early, likely for good behavior while behind bars.
Ragusa’s case made national headlines. Court records show the Davidsen Middle School math teacher admitted to having sexual relations with two students, ages 14 and 16. She had more than 20 sexual encounters with the two students, records say.
In court in 2010, Ragusa was remorseful. “I’m sincerely sorry for the pain and aggravation I have caused the victims and their families,” she said. “I pray my apology allows for the downpouring of healing in lives of all those who have been hurt by my decisions.”
Judge Chet Tharpe admonished her for her lackadaisical behavior in court and called her a sexual predator.
Ragusa took a plea deal, leading to the 10-year sentence – the maximum amount of time allowed. She was sent to a state prison in Ocala.
She will now live at a motel in Clearwater – the Continental Inn.
Jim Broderick spoke with Ragusa and her family prior to her release. Broderick, with Florida Justice Transition, Inc., runs several transitional housing locations, including the Continental Inn.
The housing is a place for offenders who are trying to get back into society. “We’re there to help her transition into a normal lifestyle if she can attain to become a reproductive citizen again,” Broderick said.
“She’s overwhelmed right now for sure, so she’s worried about many things,” he added.
Broderick believes Ragusa is a changed person.
“I know she’ll be a success story,” he said. “It’s time to move on and put it behind everybody so this young person can get her life back together as best as she can.”
Ragusa will have to register as a sex offender and serve probation.