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CLIFTON PARK: Parents file suits against teacher

Two families have filed civil suits for physical and emotional injury, as well as other issues, against Christopher Culver, the 33-year-old Clifton Park elementary school teacher accused of multiple sexual crimes against eight boys under age 11.

Last month, Culver pleaded not guilty to a total of 49 counts, including 29 counts of sexual abuse in the first-degree, 12 counts of sexual conduct against a child second-degree, and eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Culver is now suspended with pay from his job as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher at Okte Elementary School in the Shenendehowa School District. Initial charges of six counts of sexual contact with children came in February. Since that time, additional charges have been filed, and more allegations are being pursued, according to the Saratoga County District Attorney's Office.

The eight counts are misdemeanors, carrying little jail time. The class D felonies come with maximum penalties of seven years each. State laws, however, place a cap on the cumulative time Culver could serve, if convicted, at 20 years in total.

In the matter of the civil suit by the two sets of parents, legal papers filed at the Saratoga County Clerk's Office in Ballston Spa are identical for both families on behalf of their young sons, and refer to actions alleged during the time period of Sept. 6, 2005, through Feb. 9, 2007. The families are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

The seven-page written complaint states that Culver's alleged actions intentionally placed the boys in harm's way, and caused the children severe emotional distress and injury due to events they state occurred at the school when Culver sexually molested, abused, assaulted, battered and sexually inappropriately touched the boys. In doing so, the legal papers state, Culver "engaged in intentional and reckless conduct so shocking and outrageous that it exceeds all reasonable bounds of decency."

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