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Judge Lets Accuser Bring Sex-Abuse Case Against Chappaqua School District

Christopher Schraufnagel walks out of New Castle Justice Court in Chappaqua following his appearance on July 14, 2016.
Christopher Schraufnagel walks out of New Castle Justice Court in Chappaqua following his appearance on July 14, 2016. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- A state Supreme Court judge ruled on Wednesday that a student sex-abuse accuser can serve the requisite paperwork needed to formally sue the Chappaqua Central School District.

The judge, Joan Lefkowitz, ruled that the plaintiff can serve a what is called a notice of claim, a document that is required in New York State that informs governmental entities that a lawsuit will be filed.

Because the normal deadline for filing a notice had run out, the plaintiff had to get a judge's ruling for an extension, which was granted.

The plaintiff, who is known only by the alias of "John Doe," has one of seven civil cases against the district with regards of the alleged conduct of former Horace Greeley High School teacher Christopher Schraufnagel. 

Of the seven actions, two involve active lawsuits, with two more have received judicial approval to file late notices of claims. The remainder still need judicial approvals to file late notices.

The plaintiff alleges that he was among those sexually abused by the then-teacher, who worked at Greeley from 2003 to 2015. His mother, who is also given an alias in the paperwork, is seeking to have the entire case sealed from public view. However, Lefkowitz has yet to rule on that request.

Schraufnagel is a co-defendant with the school district in all of the civil cases. He also faces a pending criminal case against him, with charges included a felony count of criminal sexual act, four misdemeanor counts of sex abuse and four misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child. 

New Castle Town Justice Douglas Kraus recently rejected a plea deal reached by Schraufnagel and the Westchester County District Attorney's office because it did not include formal registration as a sex offender. The DA's office subsequently proposed an amended deal, although it is not clear whether Schraufnagel was agree to it.

Meanwhile, tension over the Schraufnagel matter boiled over on Tuesday night when Will Wedge, a critic of district officials' response to it, interrupted a Chappaqua school board meeting. The board halted and meeting and New Castle Police were called in to meet with Wedge. Ultimately, the board agreed to reconvene the meeting and let Wedge stay, although police were posted in the room. The meeting ended without further stoppages. 

Previous coverage of Schraufnagel can be read here.

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