High School teacher accused of sexually harassing student - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

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Pathfinder High School teacher accused of sexually harassing student

Joseph Baldya (L) and his attorney Raipher Pellegrino (R) Joseph Baldya (L) and his attorney Raipher Pellegrino (R)

A Pathfinder Regional Technical High School teacher was in court on Tuesday facing accusations of sexual harassment on a student.

Joseph Baldyga, 27, of Palmer, sat in an Eastern Hampshire District Courtroom as a judge discussed a harassment prevention order against him.

"I was very troubled by the allegations that were presented and by the presentation that was made by the juvenile," said Judge John Payne.

Those allegations were laid out in court documents obtained by CBS 3.

In them, the victim, a 14-year-old female student, accused Baldyga of making sexual gestures towards her after gym class on Nov. 5.

The complaint states Baldya also asked the student if she wanted to work out with him.

It's something her attorney, Jack St. Clair, said made his client feel uncomfortable.  

"She's been emotionally upset and in fear," said St. Clair.  

But Baldyga's attorney, Raipher Pellegrino, said the whole thing is false.

"My client did not make those gestures. He's maintained that this incident didn't happen," said Pellegrino. 

Payne said he believed the incident occurred, but there was not a sufficient amount of evidence to meet the statutory requirements in order to issue a full sexual harassment order against Baldyga.

"The evidence has not presented to the court the basis to extended the harassment order," said Payne.

"Unfortunately in this case, the judge had to make the decision," said St. Clair.

The alleged incident was witnessed by a student and a female co-worker of Baldyga.

CBS 3 has learned that co-worker also filed a harassment complaint against Baldyga at Palmer District Court.

That order was also dismissed by a separate judge.

Pellegrino claims this entire ordeal stems from an agenda that Baldyga's co-worker has against him, but she denied those allegations in court.

Baldyga's attorney said he hopes today's ruling can allow for things to get back to normal for his client.

"He's pleased the court listened to the evidence and made the appropriate finding. He's looking to go back to work, move forward and put this behind him," said Pellegrino.

Pathfinder is conducting their own separate investigation into the incident.

In a statement issued to CBS 3, Superintendent Gerald Paist said, "Because the attorneys for both parties were away for several days, the school's investigation is not yet complete but should be shortly. The school was not a party to the proceeding in court this morning; that was between the individual who requested the complaint and the teacher."

Baldyga has been on paid leave while the school's investigation continues.

Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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