Earlier this year and assistant principal at a Pennsylvania high school was caught on video yelling profanities at pro-life teenagers who are holding signs demonstrating against abortion.
The teenager, Conner Haines, was part of a Christian group called Project Frontlines that was hosting a “holocaust of abortion” display on the public sidewalks outside the school. The pro-lifers showed photos of aborted babies and other information to help educate the public about abortion.
Haines and his sister Lauren captured the incident with Ruff on video and posted it to YouTube. During various points in the 18-minute video, Ruff yelled at the teen, swore at him, threatened to call the police and told the teen to “go to Hell.”
At one point, Ruff told the teen: “I don’t give an (expletive) what Jesus tells me about what I should and should not be doing. You are harassing public school students and I will call the police if you don’t shut up.”
Dr. Zach Ruff, an assistant principal at Downingtown STEM Academy in Chester County, initially was placed on administrative leave in April after a video showed him yelling and swearing at a pro-life teenager who was protesting on the sidewalk outside the school. Eventually he resigned to the Downingtown Area School Board.
Now the former assistant principal says his life has been a wreck since the incident occurred and since his decision to quit his position at the high school.
During a two-hour interview, both teared up frequently, Ruff verging on sobs. He said he takes several medications, sees a therapist twice weekly, and rarely leaves the house without Logan. When they do go out, they eat out or shop in Delaware or Philadelphia so they don’t run into students or parents.
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Mostly, they want people to know that Ruff has suffered from anxiety and depression since he was a teenager growing up in Vermont, where, he said, he was abused at home, was hospitalized for two months after attempting suicide at 17, then set out on his own.
Ruff sent out 200 job applications last summer and had a few interviews — one potential employer ended up blocking his phone number, apparently after seeing the video — but worries he will never work in education again. “I didn’t want this to define me,” he said.
Although Ruff’s actions were clearly out of line, he is a human being who deserves forgiveness for what he did and restoration. Hopefully he feels true contrition for his actions and will be able to find a job where he can be a positive and supportive role model for others regardless of their viewpoints on abortion.