The emotional and psychological damage caused by a trusted teacher who takes advantage of his supervisory and disciplinary authority to sexually abuse a student is enormous and life-long.

Those words are from Daniel B. Shapiro, an attorney.

If you think it’s OK for a teacher to have sex with a teenage student as long as it was “consensual” (there is no legal consent here), then maybe those words should be read back to you slowly until you finally comprehend it.

Female student, male student, willing, unwilling, it is, and should be, illegal.


Shapiro represented a woman who came forward to police years after the fact. Joseph DePuglio, 77, was a teacher in his 50s at the time he had her as a student. The now-retired physics teacher from Steinert High School in Hamilton had sex with the student several times in his home between 1998 and 2000. He admits this.

Here’s where it gets disgusting.

They allowed this creep a plea deal and entrance into PTI, pre-trial intervention. This is a program for first-time offenders and allows them to avoid jail time.

So you can sexually assault a student (and yes, it’s assault, there is no consent that is legal when it’s someone in a teaching position so get your head out of the mud if you think this OK) and damage them for life and walk away without spending even a night behind bars.

Steinert High School, Joseph DePuglio
Steinert High School (Hamilton Township School District), Joseph DePuglio (Mercer County Prosecutor's Office)

To make this injustice even worse, our injustice system, which allows PTI, says once your probation is up you can then apply to have your record expunged. Like it never happened. The problem is all the manipulation that damaged this woman won’t be expunged.

Look, I know the prosecutors are just following the law and the court guidelines here. My beef isn’t with them. It’s with a guy who would hurt a young woman this way and with a system that lets him basically get away with it.

Handcuffs and judge mallet on laptop keyboard

PTI should not apply to sex crimes. The fact that this selfish creep Joseph DePuglio is getting away with it makes me want to vomit.

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