Former East Kingdom Page School Dean Accused of Sexual Misconduct with Minors

Benjamin Schragger, known in the SCA as Ben the Steward, has been arrested on charges that he sexually assaulted children in his home. Ben Schragger is a former Dean of Pages in the East Kingdom, and participates in the SCA as a member of the Shire of Eisental (http://www.eisental.eastkingdom.org/). In the modern world, this is the Lehigh Valley area of eastern Pennsylvania (USA), near Allentown, Bethlehem, and other cities known for their steel industry.

According to charges filed in court by the local District Attorney's office, Schragger allegedly raped a 9-year-old and a 14-year-old, along with other sexual crimes against minors. The charges filed include rape, aggravated indecent assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and indecent assault. A total of approximately eight children are said to be victims of the alleged crimes. Court documents indicate that Schragger was arrested in September after a state police investigation for these alleged crimes, and for accusations of sitting naked with children in a Jacuzzi tub.

An article in Morning Call, a Lehigh Valley newspaper, says that the District Attorney's allegations cover a period from June 1999 through August 2003. Schragger was arrested, released on US$200,000 bail, and then re-arrested with a higher bail amount of US$10 million. Schragger's attorney, John Waldron, says the higher bail amount is unfair to his client and charges that the court had no right to rescind the earlier bail amount. Waldron also accuses the police of a seizure of computer equipment that was "overly broad", because no charges have been filed relating to computer crime. Waldron says that the activities at which Schragger allegedly committed the assaults were no secret gatherings, but rather were open to parents and children alike.

A spokesman for local authorities said that the Society for Creative Anachronism is cooperating with police, and that at this time no charges are pending against other SCA members related to this case.

Lord Derek Fairhair (mka Paul Zona), Seneschal of the Shire of Eisental, is quoted by Morning Call stating that no one in the Shire knew of improper conduct by Schragger. "'Believe me, if anybody had thought anything like that was happening, action would have been taken, I'm sure,'' he said.

Within the SCA, Lord Ben the Steward is a recipient of the Award of Arms and the Order of the Silver Crescent, the latter being an East Kingdom award for service.

SCAtoday.net is currently trying to reach relevant sources for comment, and will publish one or more followup articles as details become available.

SCAtoday.net staff reporter Karen Larsdatter also contributed to this article.

5 years of ben.

I am altengal of eisental, for the past 4 years I have been a page of eisental, and a long term friend of ben schragger, and for close to a year I have been a adult supervisor under him. right after I left to go to basic military training, he was accussed and they came to my house the sunday after I left looking for me to question me? I found out the day I graduated from bmt that one of my closest friends was accussed of a crime that I knew would get him put in jail, and I know he will die there if he does go. all he has to do is fail 1 case and they will have signed his death warrent, if the morning call's picture of him wasn't evidence enough of that.

I would like to know from anyone that knows just about anything what is/did happen, where, when, and how.

altengal@aol.com

EDITOR'S NOTE -- Please Read

Editor's note: I was able to reach John Waldron, Schragger's attorney, early Saturday morning. Mr. Waldron has agreed to make an on-the-record statement for SCAtoday.net early next week. He is out of town on business at this time and wants to have the case files in front of him during the interview.

We remind our readers that at this time Mr. Schragger has been charged, not convicted. We urge lords and ladies of these Current Middle Ages to respect the principle that Ben the Steward is presumed innocent until proven guilty. We will make every effort to present both the prosecution and defense positions fairly and accurately, hence our offer to Mr. Waldron to publish his statement from the defense point of view, since we have already reported on the prosecution's charges.

--Justin

Re: The Facts

I agree with the writer of this post re: the Morning Call's lack of impartiality. One instance I can point to off the top of my head: they refer to Schragger's "victims." How can an innocent person have "victims?" There are other similar lapses - enough that if/when Schragger is found not guilty, the Call may find itself defending a libel suit. -another insider

Small Correction

According to John Waldron, Schragger's attorney, the higher bail was not set because the court rescinded the lower bail amount, but because new charges were filed and the separate bail was set at the higher level. Waldron does maintain, however, that the US$10 million bail amount was excessive.

The Facts

Altengal,

For all the facts you are requesting, I'd suggest reading the Morning Call but they have proven themselves incapable of impartial journalism on this issue. Your best bet is to go to Ben's hearing and/or trial, provided they are public. Private gossip and supposition will not help ANYone right now.

If you merely desire to comfort your friend, I suggest looking up the addy for Lehigh County prison and paying a visit or dropping a line. If you believe him wrongly accused, and this turns out to be true, he must surely be in the depths of despair right now. It will help to know you are thinking of him.