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Judge Nixes Lawyer's Bid To ID Mom Of Chappaqua Student Sex-Abuse Accuser

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 has denied a request from a lawyer representing the Chappaqua Central School District to have the mother of a student sex-abuse accuser publicly identified in a lawsuit pertaining to former Horace Greeley High School drama teacher Christopher Schraufnagel.

The male student plaintiff goes by the initials of "J.L." for privacy reasons in the case. In his ruling, Judge Charles Wood argued that to identify the mother, who is listed in the suit as "Anonymous Parent," could lead to harm of the son that would trigger a violation of state law.

The mother is a co-plaintiff in the case, which also names Schraufnagel as a defendant. 

A copy of Wood's ruling, which was given on Wednesday, can be read here.

Wood also noted that the school district already knows the identities of the plaintiffs.

"The court agrees that respondents rights are fully protected as it has been provided with the full identities of the infant and his parent, and to have the parent's name known may lead to further harm of the infant claimant in violation of Civil Rights Law section 50-b," Wood stated.

"Infant" is a legal term for a person who is a minor. 

The lawyer who made the request is Brian Henderson of the White Plains law firm Henderson & Brennan. It was disclosed at the Chappaqua school board's meeting on Tuesday that Henderson's firm was hired by the district's liability insurance company and not the direct itself.

Wood also sided with J.L. in his request to file a late notice of claim, which is a procedural document that, under state law, has to be submitted to declare an intent to sue a governmental entity.

J.L is one of seven civil student accusers who are either suing, or are seeking to sue, the school district and Schraufnagel. He is also one of two criminal sex-abuse accusers against Schraufnagel, who was Greeley's drama teacher from 2003 to 2015.

Schraufnagel accepted a plea deal last month and admitted to sexual contact with J.L., along with a former student. The latter filed his own lawsuit in federal court earlier this week under the alias of "John Roe."

The plea deal calls for Schraufnagel to admit guilt to three misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child and to serve three years of probation. While Schraufnagel would be subject to monitor similar to that of a sex offender, the deal does not require him to register as one. 

The agreement is still subject to approval by New Castle Town Justice Douglas Kraus.

Previous coverage regarding Schraufnagel can be found here.

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