CLIFTON PARK: Shen teacher to stand trial

Not guilty.

The plea was entered early Tuesday morning at the Saratoga County Courthouse in Ballston Spa by Christopher Culver, the 33-year-old Clifton Park elementary school teacher accused of multiple sexual crimes against eight boys under age 11.

Culver, a suspended kindergarten and first-grade teacher at Okte Elementary School in the Shenendehowa School District, was charged in February with six counts of sexual contact with children. Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Jensen said however, since that time additional victims have emerged, and more allegations are being pursued.

Culver will now stand trial on 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.

The eight counts are misdemeanors carrying little jail time, but the 29 counts of sexual abuse in the first-degree come with maximum penalties of seven years each. State laws, however, place a cap on the cumulative time Culver could serve, if convicted, at just 20 years in total.

Dressed in a wrinkled olive-colored suit, wearing wire-framed glasses and carrying a purple plastic binder, Culver was in the courtroom early, but left briefly when told his defense attorney, Terence Kindlon of Albany, had been delayed.

Meanwhile, in the second row of wooden benches in Judge Jerry Scarano's court, nine parents sat watching silently, some of them holding hands. The parents, with faces still tanned from the holiday weekend, all appeared to be in their early to mid-30's. Each of the parents left the courtroom Tuesday with a photocopy of the order of protection granted by Judge Scarano barring Culver from any contact with their sons.

Culver's residence has changed from Colina Lane, where he lived with his wife, to Chestertown, Warren County, where he now resides with his father, Robert Culver. Scarano ordered Culver not to change his address again without the court's permission.

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