Ex-teacher pleads guilty to stalking
A former Fred T. Foard High School teacher pleaded guilty on Thursday to stalking one of his former students for more than a year.
John Donadio, 60, was ordered to pay court costs and enter into a prayer for judgment after pleading guilty to misdemeanor stalking. The charge, a class A1 misdemeanor, has a maximum punishment of 150 days in jail.
The state’s case against Donadio revolves around a host of incidents involving one of his former students, Josh Pruitt, from 2008-09.
Pruitt, who was 17 years old at the time of the offenses, was Donadio’s student for two to three years before the stalking began, according to state evidence. Pruitt suffered from an auditory processing disorder and studied under Donadio, who taught classes for students with learning disabilities.
Authorities say the stalking started with text messaging.
During summer 2008, Donadio started texting Pruitt, addressing the student as “son” in some instances and started to become “more than a teaching influence,” said Assistant District Attorney Al Reeder.
When school started in the fall, the stalking became more intense, and Donadio gave Pruitt several gifts, including clothes and candy, Reeder said.
The teacher also started collecting pictures of Pruitt in his classroom, and even used the student’s name as a computer password. Reeder said the teacher would often go to Pruitt’s after-school workplace so he could run into him when he got off the job.
As the school year went on, the texting picked up, too. According to state evidence, Donadio sent a total of 276 text messages to Pruitt between April and May 2009, of which the student responded to 63 in short, Reeder said.
“Josh Pruitt did not want this and did not welcome this,” Reeder said.
The incidents continued to progress until May 11, 2009, when Donadio gave a gift of underwear to Pruitt, bringing the boxer shorts to school and leaving them for him.
Later that same month, Donadio was arrested and charged with misdemeanor stalking. The Catawba County Schools (CCS) Board of Education later dismissed Donadio, who surrendered his teaching license to the board, said CCS attorney Crystal Davis.
The case went to trial in August 2011, but was ruled a mistrial after a hung jury resulted in a vote of 11-1.
On Thursday, Donadio pleaded guilty and eliminated the possibility of a retrial.