A Hopewell High School teacher will stand trial on felony sex charges after the state attorney general's office said he sent suggestive text messages to a student, asked her to send him nude photos and inappropriately touched her in the classroom.
Joseph A. Rubino, 37, appeared in court for a preliminary hearing at the Beaver County Courthouse Thursday. He has been charged with two counts of child pornography, unlawful contact with a minor, criminal solicitation, institutional sexual assault and related charges.
According to a criminal complaint, Mr. Rubino began texting the student when she was a sophomore. At first friendly, the messages became sexual, according to a police criminal complaint. Mr. Rubino told police the sexual conversations were mutual; the exchanges continued through early fall of her senior year, according to the complaint.
Mr. Rubino's attorney Steven Valsamidis said his client is "adamantly denying any criminal wrongdoing" and will present his testimony at trial. Mr. Valsamidis argued Thursday that the commonwealth was unable to properly authenticate the text messages in question and submitted no photo messages as evidence.
The girl testified Thursday that when she threatened to turn Mr. Rubino in for unwanted advances, he hit her in the face.
Hopewell Area School District placed Mr. Rubino on unpaid leave after charges were filed.