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Former Horace Greeley Teacher May Get Plea Offer In Sex Abuse Case

Christopher Schraufnagel walks out of New Castle Justice Court in Chappaqua following his appearance on July 14, 2016. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Christopher Schraufnagel walks out of New Castle Justice Court in Chappaqua following his appearance on July 14, 2016. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Christopher Schraufnagel and his attorney, Stacey Richman, are surrounded by a media scrum as they leave New Castle Justice Court in downtown Chappaqua. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Former Horace Greeley High School drama teacher Christopher Schraufnagel may get a plea-agreement offer for his criminal sex-abuse case.

Mary Clark-DiRusso, a prosecutor for the Westchester County District Attorney's office, disclosed the scenario during Schraufnagel's appearance at New Castle Justice Court on Thursday evening. 

Clark-DiRusso told the town judge, Douglas Kraus, about a possible "definitive offer" for the case, adding that she expects it to happen. She did not elaborate as to what the possible terms of a plea deal could be.

Kraus adjourned Schraufnagel's case to Aug. 4, when he will return to the town court in downtown Chappaqua.

If a plea deal is accepted, Schraufnagel would plead guilty, possibly to lesser charges than what are pending, and forgo a criminal trial. 

Schraufnagel, who served as drama teacher from 2003 until his resignation last September, is accused of sexual contact with three high-school students over a roughly four-year period. He has been charged with one felony count of third-degree criminal sex act; four misdemeanor counts of third-degree sex abuse; and two misdemeanor accounts of endangering the welfare of a child.

The criminal allegations include oral-sexual contact with a then-15-year-old student; unspecified sexual contact and conversations another student; and in asking a student to kiss every student in one of his classes for a photo slideshow. 

While Schraufnagel was criminally charged last October, the case has proceeded slowly. Reasons for the slow pace, it was noted on Thursday, include a lengthy state trial having taken up the time of Schraufnagel lawyer, Stacey Richman, and his health.

Schraufnagel and Richman left court amid a brief but tense atmosphere. A person yelled out "pedophile," while the two were surrounded by a scrum of journalists as they walked to a car before taking off.

Four other students have come forward with civil-suit allegations. Three students have a pending case against Schraufnagel and the Chappaqua Central School District, while activation of one for the fourth accuser is being sought.

The four civil accussors are being represented by David Engelsher, an attorney who also lives in the school district. In his filings, Engelsher outlined a series of sordid allegations against Schraufnagel, including fondling of students; and involving students in events such as "Sick Secret Santa." In the case of the events, Schraufnagel is accused of exposing the students to human feces placed in a cup, pubic hair baked into cake and sperm placed in a bottle. 

Schraufnagel is also accused of requesting to see student genetalia and in sharing alcohol and drugs. 

The Chappaqua school district came under fire this week when, through its legal counsel's response to the civil suit, blamed the three plaintiffs in the active case for their alleged injuries. 

Schraufnagel has not responded to the civil case.

Previous coverage on the civil case is available here and previous criminal-case coverage can be read here.

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