CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Former Horace Greeley High School drama teacher Christopher Schraufnagel accepted a revised plea deal on Monday morning in connection with his sex-abuse case involving students.
The longtime faculty member, who worked at Greeley from 2003 to 2015, pleaded guilty to an earlier version of the deal in August. However, the first version was rejected by New Castle Town Justice Douglas Kraus because it did not include formal sex-offender registration.
Registration was a requirement of the revised deal, which Kraus quickly accepted.
Under the deal, Schraufnagel pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor-level count of sexual abuse and two misdemeanor-level counts of endangering the welfare of a child. In connection with the guilty pleas, Schraufnagel admitted to having sexual contact with a student on the Greeley campus in the spring of 2011; having sexual contact on the campus with another student during the 2014-15 school year; and engaging in injurious non-sexual contact with a third student, which was also during the 2014-15 school year.
The deal also calls for Schraufnagel to serve two probation sentences of two years and three years each, although he would do so concurrently. Schraufnagel would be subject to monitoring similar to that of a sex offender during his probation sentence, which is in addition to his registration.
Kraus scheduled a formal sentencing date for Feb. 9, 2017, which is when Schraufnagel will return to court. In the meantime, he will be subject to a pre-sentencing investigation from the state's probation department.
The judge also renewed temporary orders of protected granted in favor of the students. The orders, which were set to expire at the end of December, were ended to March 31, 2017.
Schraufnagel appeared in court without hair; his attorney, Stacey Richman, previously told Kraus that her client has cancer. Richman asked Kraus for Schraufnagel, who she said is "not well," but remain seated while he accepted the deal.
Although the criminal case is set to wind down in the coming months, Schraufnagel, along with the Chappaqua Central School District, face a series of civil sex-abuse cases from seven student accusers. Two of the civil accusers are among the criminal complainants.
The fallout from the case has resulted in upheaval among school officials. School board members have faced a backlash from parents at heated public meetings, with demands including resignations and an independent investigation into how the matter was handled.
Last Monday, the school board announced that Superintendent Lyn McKay would resign for purposes of retirement; her exit deal, which was approved the following day, calls for her to formally leave on Jan. 2, 2017, although she has relinquished her day to day duties to Eric Byrne, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
No reason was given for McKay's resignation but it came following vocal calls from parents for her to step down over her handling of the Schraufnagel matter.
Will Wedge, a vocal critic of the board and administration, spoke before a press gaggle shortly after the deal was accepted.
While praising Kraus for his rejection of the first version of the deal and in accepted the revised one, Wedge reiterated his call for an independent investigation of the school district and for school board President Alyson Gardner to resign.
Wedge has been a thorn in the side of officials; he interrupted a board meeting on Oct. 18, which prompted members to temporarily halt it. New Castle Police subsequently responded, and the meeting was continued under their watch.
Police were also on hand for the board's Nov. 1 meeting, where Wedge's newer, but less intense, interruptions nearly resulted in him being asked to leave. Police were again on hand.
At Monday's gaggle, Wedge contended that the school board does not have an incentive to do an outside investigation because finding fault would go against its legal position in the civil cases.
“They can't say 'we failed' here b/c that's an automatic lose in the civil cases,” he said, adding that the board should settle the cases.
Wedge also wants the Westchester County District Attorney's office to launch a probe into whether district officials obstructed the criminal investigation into Schraufnagel's conduct, along with intervention from the State Education Department.
State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who Wedge has sent emails to, has the power to fire school board members, which he would like to see done with Gardner if she does not resign.
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