One of the most prestigious high schools in New York is blaming the students in a case that alleges the three children were sexually abused by their teacher.
Christopher Schraufnagel, a teacher at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York, is accused of sexually assaulting the three children between 2011 and 2015, who at the time were all under the age of 17, which is the age of consent in New York state. In addition, Schraufnagel is said to have been drunk while on the job, and also to have given drugs and alcohol to the students involved in the case, whose names are not being released based on the nature of the case and their age.
Schraufnagel's criminal case is still pending. He has yet to be indicted despite being arrested nine months ago.
He is being accused of, among other things, groping students, pushing them to perform oral sex on him, asking for photos of their genitals, and giving them drugs and alcohol while on school grounds. In addition, the students argue that he is responsible for the creation of games such as "Sick Secret Santa," which is said to involve "placing human feces in coffee cups, photo-shopping images of students in various photographs in a prurient and otherwise improper manner and baking pubic hairs in cakes."
The original students, along with their parents and an additional student, are now suing Schraufnagel and the Chappaqua Central School District, arguing that appropriate action was not taken to prevent the abuse from happening. Schraufnagel's conduct was outlined in their complaint, which also argues that the school did not conduct a thorough background check for his relevant criminal history, take precautions to prevent the abuse, or respond appropriately when the initial complaint was made, writes Ronn Blitzer for LawNewz.
The lawsuit argues that Schraufnagel should have been monitored more closely. Because this did not happen, the students say that the school is responsible for allowing the abuse to happen for years.
However, in answer to the allegations, the school district claims that the students brought the abuse on themselves, arguing that they had been "reckless."
"If the plaintiffs were caused to sustain injuries and damages at the times and places and in the manner alleged in the complaint â¦ [they were] caused or contributed to by reason of the carelessness, recklessness, negligence and/or assumption of the risk, both implied and expressed, of the plaintiffs," the documents say.
Parents of the victims were furious at the accusations made by the school district. The mother of one boy argued that the school was supposed to be a "safe zone," adding that her son had been given cocaine by the teacher, which then turned into a more generalized drug problem and an almost-fatal overdose.
Chappaqua Central School District is not making a public comment on the issue due to a general policy that does not allow comments to be made concerning ongoing litigation.
Schraufnagel, who taught speech and drama at the school voted to be the best public high school in the country, was placed on paid leave in June 2015. He resigned the following September.