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Former Shen teacher gets 12

Two months after pleading guilty to 49 counts related to sexually abusing eight young boys in his classroom at Shenendehowa Central schools, Christopher Culver was sentenced to 12 years in state prison.

Since the teacher's arrest Feb. 11, the high-profile criminal case has been a roller coaster ride for the parents of the young victims, and for parents across the county horrified by the charges and the ramifications for the families.

The case did not come to a close at the sentencing, however, as Culver indicated his wish to withdraw his guilty pleas, claiming police violated his rights.

Culver told Saratoga County Judge Jerry Scarano that he had been the subject of a witch hunt and that his statements were coerced.

Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III immediately vocalized his disbelief and promised to fight this new attempt on Culver's part to delay jail time.

"We will absolutely fight him tooth and nail to get his pleas back," said Murphy. "This is an outrageous claim on Culver's part. He didn't just plead guilty once, he pled 49 times. This is contrived and desperate on his part."

On Nov. 26, following Culver's court appearance and admissions of guilt, defense attorney Terence Kindlon told members of the press his client was trying to spare the families more grief as they prepared to testify. Over their Thanksgiving break from school, the second graders were brought into the imposing county courtroom to prepare for what was ahead.

"Make no mistake about it, he was guilty," Kindlon said on Nov. 26. "This case was try-able, and we reasonably expected acquittals on some of the indictments, but (Culver) insisted on pleading to the entire count because he didn't want to subject the victims to being witnesses at a trial."

It has been estimated Culver would be likely to serve 85 percent of the 12 years handed down.

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