Shoaf can demonstrate the extent of his regret
Former Girard schools superintendent-turned jailbird Joseph Shoaf says he is "heartfully sorry" for his criminal behavior that led to his pleading guilty to charges of corrupting another with drugs, intimidation of a witness and possession of cocaine. Shoaf especially wants the pupils to know that he truly regrets what he did and that he is ashamed of himself.
"I'm awfully sorry this happened," the ex-superintendent said prior to his being sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Andrew Logan of the Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. "No one caused this but myself."
By pleading guilty, Shoaf was spared a possible 16-year sentence, which he would have received had his case gone to trial and he had lost. The 36-year-old Cortland resident was indicted May 29 and pleaded innocent June 5.
He thus got a break when he decided to throw in the towel. For that reason, he has a responsibility to the pupils, their parents and the community at large to strike a blow for a drug-free school district.
Shoaf can do that by cooperating with Girard Detective Frank Bigowsky, who wants to know where Shoaf got the cocaine that he took into the high school.
"Somebody supplied him with drugs," said Bigowsky, who investigated the case with Detective John Norman. "That has been a major concern."
But it is the police officer's subsequent statement to a Vindicator reporter that is cause for concern: "Are there drugs in the high school? Without a doubt." That's a red flag for the school board, the administration and the parents if ever there was one.
Who is bringing the drugs on campus? How widespread is the drug use? Is it confined to the high school or are younger pupils being preyed upon?
These are some of the questions that the police detective may be able to answer if Shoaf provides information that would lead to the supplier or suppliers.
Bigowsky says he tried to interview the former superintendent after Thursday's sentencing, but the defendant's lawyer would not permit it.
It is true that Atty. Niki Schwartz of Cleveland does not have to let his client talk to the police. Providing information about the drug transactions was not part of the plea agreement. It should have been, but Charles Morrow, an assistant county prosecutor, says that the source of the drugs was not raised during the plea negotiations and that Shoaf never volunteered the information.
But just because all the issues weren't nailed down before the plea agreement being reached does not mean they should be off limits now. The former superintendent's guilty plea doesn't just represent the misbehavior of a drug addict.
Consider what took place in school that led to Shoaf's arrest: The charges of corrupting another with drugs, intimidation of a witness and possessing cocaine were filed after a female student tape-recorded herself and Shoaf last spring using cocaine in his high school office, drinking vodka and talking of sex. Her boyfriend took the tape to police.
In a nutshell, he used his position of power and authority to prey on someone younger.
Five years behind bars isn't sufficient punishment for such an evil individual. Just saying he's sorry isn't enough. Shoaf needs to talk to Detective Bigowsky.