Former Shen teacher denied appeal in sexual abuse case

A former Shenendehowa first grade teacher convicted in November 2008 of sexually abusing six of his male students, lost his appeal bid on Friday, Jan. 8, according to Saratoga County District Attorney Jim Murphy's office.

Christopher Culver, currently serving a 12 year prison sentence, was charged with 29 counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, 12 counts of sexual conduct against a child in the second degree and eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child, following his February 2007 arrest.

The district attorney's office reports that during an interview with State Police investigators, Culver admitted to sexually abusing six boys in his classbetween 2002 and 2007by touching their genitals, two underneath their clothing and four over their clothing.

Culver appealed his conviction, alleging that his admission and statements to police were inadmissible in the absence of a valid waiver of Miranda rights. Culver's appeal also stated that he repeatedly asked to speak with an attorney during questioning.

According to information from Murphy's office, when State Police went to Culver's home to inform him of the investigation, he willingly went with them to the station for questioning and told his wife that he didn't want counsel, a fact which she testified under subpoena. Police maintain that Culver voluntarily spoke with interrogators and he "received, indicated he understood and waived his Miranda rights prior to being questioned and making admissions." Police also stated that Culver "never inquired about or requested an attorney at any point during the questioning."

Culver also claimed in his appeal that his original trial attorney ineffectively represented him and that a psychiatric evaluation he was convinced to undergo to determine his risk of reoffending, was promised to be confidential and not used in court.

In the County Court, Culver's appeal claims were evaluated and determined to lack merit, said information from Murphy's office. It was also stated that based upon the court's first-hand observations of the testifying witnesses, it would give "little credence to the defendant's version of events."

Murphy said, "We are pleased that the case is now over and all appeals are exhausted. The victims can continue to focus on counseling and healing. I am pleased Mr. Culver will remain behind bars for a long time."

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