Court: Wiretap charges to stand

JEFFREY NORRIS

BY STACI WILSON

Sexual assault and wiretapping charges leveled against a former Montrose Area teacher will move forward following an Aug. 22 ruling by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

The Superior Court reversed a February 17, 2010 Court of Common Pleas decision that threw out the three wiretapping counts lodged against Jeffrey David Norris, 30, Montrose.

The Court was tasked with determining whether a public school teacher is a public employee.

Norris had argued that his employment as a school teacher did not qualify him as a public employee. That designation left a two-year statute of limitations on wiretapping charges. The trial court ruled in Norris’ favor.

The state attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, argued on appeal that as a public school teacher the statute of limitations is extended for public officials and employees who break the law in the course of their employment.

In a February 2009 search of Norris’ residence, police found three tapes with recordings of separate conversations he had with Montrose Area Superintendent Michael Ognosky, Principal James Tallerico and Russell Canevari, who was employed as the school’s vice principal at the time.

The tapes were made Dec. 31, 2004; July 11, 2006; and May 3, 2007, without the school officials’ knowledge or consent.

In the May 3, 2007 tape, Norris allegedly spoke with Tallerico and Canevari about rumors circulating in the school that Norris was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old student.

According to the Court’s opinion, the ruling was based on the examination of the existing, relevant statutes.

In addition to the three wiretapping charges, Norris was arrested June 16, 2009, on three counts each of statutory sexual assault, indecent assault and corruption of minors.

Norris is accused of having sex with a student on at least three occasions from March to June 2007. Police also said Norris supplied marijuana and cocaine to the girl.

In August 2009, charges of stalking, intimidation of witnesses and retaliation against a witness or victim were filed against Norris following an incident in Montrose.

Norris remains free on $50,000 bail.