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Judge Rejects Plea Deal In Former Chappaqua Drama Teacher's Sex-Abuse Case

New Castle Town Justice Douglas Kraus New Castle Town Justice Douglas Kraus
New Castle Town Justice Douglas Kraus Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Christopher Schraufnagel Christopher Schraufnagel
Christopher Schraufnagel Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- New Castle Town Justice Douglas Kraus has rejected a proposed plea deal for former Horace Greeley High School drama teacher Christopher Schraufnagel in connection with his sex-abuse case involving student accusers.

Kraus, who release his decision on Thursday, cited the deal's lack of sex-offender registration for his rejection in a 12-page decision released on Thursday. Schraufnagel is due in court later on Thursday.

The deal called for Schraufnagel, who taught at Greeley from 2003 to 2015, to submit to monitoring conditions similar to that of a sex offender but lacked formal registration.

A copy of Kraus' decision can be read here.

In his ruling, Kraus notes that the conditions would have only lasted for three years, which would run concurrent with a proposed probation term. In contrast, registration would subject Schraufnagel to monitoring for decades. 

The agreement, which had been reached with the Westchester County District Attorney's office, also called for Schraufnagel to plead to three misdemeanor-level counts of endangering the welfare of a child; when he accepted the agreement in August, the former teacher admitted to having sexual contact with two students and non-sexual contact with a third.

The agreement did not include sex-offender registration because the charges that Schraufnagel pleaded guilty to do not mandate it, Kraus explained in a previous letter.

Schraufnagel was charged last October with a felony count of a criminal sexual act, four counts of misdemeanor-level sex abuse, and a misdemeanor-level count of endangering the welfare of a child. With the plea deal rejected, Schraufnagel again faces the original charges.

The rejected deal had the support of the accusers, something that Kraus acknowledged and sympathized with. Unless a new deal is reached, the case will head to trial, which could lead to students testifying. 

Kraus explained that testimony would be given at a grand-jury proceeding, which is intended to secure a criminal indictment, followed by testimony at a trial itself.

"This is a potential consequence that I do not take lightly," Kraus wrote.

However, the judge added that grand-jury testimony is done in secret, while the trial itself could be handled in a way that does not divulge the students' identities. 

"To the best of my knowledge, none of the victims in this case has expressed an unwillingness to testify, if necessary, at a trial," Kraus wrote.

Kraus also left open the possibility that he would accept a new plea deal with different terms.

Schraufnagel, along with the Chappaqua Central School District, also face civil cases from seven student accusers, two of which are also criminal accusers. Some of the civil cases involve active lawsuits while others are currently in the form of procedural requests to sue.

Previous coverage regarding Schraufnagel can be read here.

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