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March 21, 2013

DA investigating allegation against school librarian

Stamford employee allegedly had sexual contact with student

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — A Stamford Central School employee is on paid administrative leave while the Delaware County district attorney investigates a charge of inappropriate sexual contact with a former male student.

The employee is Carrara Knoetgen, a school librarian and tennis coach. The student, who is 18, is no longer at Stamford Central School. Knoetgen is in her late 20s.

District Attorney Richard Northrup Jr. said he was reluctant to comment about any aspect of the case because the investigation is still in the early stages, and he did not want to jeopardize it. 

The age of consent is 17, so if the relationship was consensual it is possible that there is no criminal activity, he said. It will be a matter for the school district to handle, Northrup said. The investigation that started when her name came up in another case will be a matter of conducting interviews and following-up leads, he said.

Stamford Superintendent Katy Graves said the school was contacted by Northrup’s office Monday about the situation. She took action, said, but it is important now to step back and let the investigation proceed.

“We don’t want people rushing to judgement,” she said.

The male involved is a student in another school, Graves said, and the change had nothing to do with this alleged incident. 

The district has hired a substitute librarian at least until the investigation is completed, she said. A former coach will lead the tennis team until then, Graves said.

“These are only allegations, and it is important to avoid speculation until the investigation is completed,” Graves said.

In a letter that went home to residents Tuesday about the situation, she wrote: “Please know that the safety and well being of all our children is our greatest concern. We do not tolerate behavior of the type that has been alleged.”

She reported the allegation to the appropriate department at state Education Department and has been in touch with the state police, as well as working with the district attorney.

“I know allegations of this type will be a terrible shock for everyone in our community and cannot fully express how saddened I am by these allegations,” the letter said.

No matter what the findings, the school will follow state education law, which is clear on the moral conduct expected of teachers, she said. She did not want to discuss the situation further at this stage in the investigation.