CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- A lawyer for the Chappaqua Central School District has filed a request with a state court that seeks to have the mother of one of former Horace Greeley High School teacher Christopher Schraufnagel's student sex-abuse accusers publicly identified.
The student plaintiff, along with his mother, are currently granted anonymity for their legal case; the former is labeled as "J.L."
The attorney, Brian Henderson, argues in his filing that state rules granting anonymity to minors in court cases are not applicable to their adult parents or guardians. He also criticized the use of anonymity for the mother as the default method in the filing, as it was done without a court order.
"This application made without a court order allowing the petitioner parent to proceed anonymously is improper, prejudicial to the respondent in opposing the application, and should not be permitted by this court," Henderson states in a letter submitted on Aug. 19.
J.L. and his mother are currently seeking the court's approval to file a late notice of claim with the school district. A notice of claim is a document that needs to be sent to a governmental entity before a formal lawsuit can be filed.
In a reply letter filed on Tuesday, plaintiff attorney Eric Goldman countered that the names of both J.L. and his mother have already been submitted to the school district, which was done to "to assure that Respondents have a full and fair opportunity to investigate all of the facts underlying the claim and prepare any meritorious defense that they find available."
Goldman also argued that revealing the mother's name would be tantamount to identifying J.L. himself.
"To reveal the identity of the parent under these circumstances acts to reveal the identity of the infant who has been subjected to sexual abuse," he adds.
The civil filing from J.L. came late last month. J.L. is also one of three student accusers involved in a Schraufnagel's criminal sex-abuse case. Schraufnagel has agreed to a plea deal with the Westchester County District Attorney's office - a prosecutor noted recently that it has the victims' support - which he entered into at a recent court date.
The deal calls for Schraufnagel to plead to a trio of misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child, two of which involve admitting to sexual contact with students. It also calls for him to serve three years of probation and to submit to monitoring similar to that of a sex offender. However, Schraufnagel would not have to register as a sex offender.
New Castle Town Justice Douglas Kraus has yet to accept the deal and has questioned why sex-offender registration is not part of the deal, according to The Journal News.
Fear of being identified at the school district's behest has been noted in a related civil case. In an affidavit filed for the case, the mother of another student accusing Schraufnagel of sex abuse argues that current use of pseudonyms for herself and her son in the court filings is not enough, as she fears that the district will seek to have her him named.
As a result the mother is asking a judge to place her son's case under a complete seal, which would keep all of its documents out of public accessibility. Another reason from the seal request, according to the mother, is due to the district's counsel blaming student accusers for damages, which was done in a separate lawsuit.
A court date will be held on Sept. 16 to for a judge to determine whether to seal the case.
The mother who is seeking a case seal is the same co-plaintiff who alleged that the school district received an abuse report pertaining to Schraufnagel in 2011 but failed to tell police.
To date, there are six civil accusers involving Schraufnagel and the school district. The three who were blamed in a legal reply from Henderson are jointly represented in a lawsuit. Three other accusers, including two aforementioned plaintiffs with recent filings, are each seeking to file notices of claim to trigger their own lawsuits.
Schraufnagel served as a drama teacher at Greeley for 12 years before resigning in September 2015. He was criminally charged a month later. The civil cases have been filed on a rolling basis since May.
The school district does not comment on pending litigation, officials have previously said.
Previous coverage of Schraufnagel can be read here.
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