Police investigate widely emailed nude images of popular teacher
Police are investigating a person they suspect may have hacked a popular John Muir High School teacher’s work email account and sent sexually explicit nude photos of the teacher to more than 200 people, the Pasadena Weekly has learned.
It appears he did not release it himself,” said Pasadena police Cmdr. John Perez. “We are looking at somebody, but we are very early in the investigation.”
The July 10 email contained pictures of what appeared to be business teacher Richard Rosa’s face, torso and genitals. One of those images shows a nude Rosa sitting up in bed and aiming the camera he was holding with one hand into a mirror.
The email went out to Muir teachers, other staff members, students and Board of Education member Renatta Cooper.
Attempts to contact Rosa were unsuccessful as of Wednesday afternoon.
A California “revenge porn” law passed in 2013, made it illegal to distribute sexually explicit photos that belonged to another person who expected the images to remain private. The crime is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. If the victim, including the recipient of the images, is under the age of 18 or the defendant has a previous conviction for revenge porn, then the crime is punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.
The incident has left district officials scrambling to resolve the matter. Less than 24 hours after the email went out, school district officials sent out a letter apologizing for the content.
“An inappropriate email message was sent to numerous email addresses from the Pasadena Unified School District account on Thursday, July 10. If you received this email, I would like to apologize for any harm this email might have caused and want to assure you that we are working with the relevant authorities to investigate the matter,” the email states. That email was sent to everyone who received the initial email from Rosa’s account and all staff members and faculty at Muir High.
Muir teachers contacted by the Weekly declined to comment.
Muir Principal Timothy Sippel called the situation “very unfortunate.”
“We encourage parents and students with concerns to contact human resources for his benefit and benefit of the school,” Sippel said.
Sippel declined to say whether Rosa would face disciplinary action or if he would be returning to teach at Muir when school resumes on Aug. 18.
Devin Perry, a Muir High senior, took to the Internet in protest of the rumors of his firing and created a petition on Facebook titled “Save Mr. Rosa.” So far, Perry has 317 signatures supporting Rosa.
“The goal of the petition is to give Mr. Rosa a fighting chance at his job, whether he continues to work at Muir or not. I don’t believe Mr. Rosa sent out this message. He has way too much pride in himself and his career to have sent out those pictures of himself,” Perry wrote.
Other Muir students also took to social media to express mixed reactions to the email.
“It’s disgusting and really dumb to have nudes that are so easily accessible. I don’t know Mr. Rosa personally, but I don’t believe that he would be the type of person to send out inappropriate pictures of himself. I think that they were sent by someone who wanted to get back at him for something,” wrote one student who asked not to be identified.
Another Muir student who also asked not to be named wrote on Facebook that Rosa “is not a bad guy and no one deserves their personal photos being shared with everyone. It’s so wrong.”
Wrote another student on Facebook, “We all know that wasn’t him who sent them who ever did this ruined his career.”