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Teen sues 40-year-old woman for statutory rape ; Husband also named in $22 million filing

An 18-year-old who had a three-year sexual relationship with an adult woman while he was underage is suing the woman and her husband, seeking $22 million.

But the husband is fighting back with a counterclaim, accusing the teenager of interfering with his "marital contract" -- in effect seeking damages for allegedly seducing his wife.

"The claim is, the boy was acting much as an adult," said the husband's attorney, R. Thomas Burgasser.

Kristine Kornacki-Miller, 40, pleaded guilty in October to third-degree rape for having sex with the teenager. In January, Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III placed her on 10 years' probation, which began with a six-month jail sentence.

Even though the teen she had the affair with is now legally an adult -- 18 years old, The Buffalo News is not publishing his name because he was considered the victim of a sex crime while he was underage.

The Sheriff's Office became involved in the case in February 2009 after receiving an anonymous letter about a teen in Wheatfield who had been sexually abused. The teen said the same letter was sent to his home and his school, which he said is the first time his parents found out about the relationship.

He accused Jeffrey Miller, Kristine's husband, of writing that letter, an allegation that Burgasser denied.

The teen, who soon will turn 19, said he and Kornacki-Miller averaged two encounters per week from shortly before his 14th birthday until sometime in 2008, when he was 17.

"I realized I shouldn't be doing it as soon as I was in that police station," the teen said. Before that, "I didn't know it was messing me up. I never even thought about it."

The teen's attorney, Christopher J. O'Brien, said the gender difference will be a factor that he will have to contend with.

"Because he's a boy, he's looked at differently than if he was a girl," O'Brien said. "There's a tendency among men to say, 'Oh, what boy wouldn't want that?' But if you ask a mother whether she would want her children to be raped like that, you'll find out very quickly how differently it's looked at."

The teen's lawsuit seeks $2 million in compensatory damages for physical and emotional distress and pain and suffering, O'Brien said. It also seeks $20 million in punitive damages.

The suit also accuses Jeffrey Miller of knowing about the sexual relationship between his wife and the teen and not informing the teen's parents.

"All he did was facilitate it, by not telling anybody," O'Brien charged.

But Jeffrey Miller's counterclaim asserts that the teen knew the Millers' marriage was in trouble and used that knowledge to start a sexual relationship with Kornacki-Miller.

"We didn't acknowledge that Kristine started it," Burgasser said, "because I don't believe she did, but because of her age, she was prosecuted statutorily."

The woman was rated a Level 1 sex offender, the least dangerous classification.

In August 2007, the Millers moved out of the neighborhood where they lived, which was near the teen and his family.

"It went on after it was discovered. That's why we're suing the husband," O'Brien said. "It goes on another year."

The boy said the relationship with Kristine Kornacki-Miller continued after the Millers moved, well into 2008. That contradicts his police statement, which said the sex ended in 2007.

Jeffrey Miller wrote a letter to the court before his wife's sentencing, asserting that the teen's parents came to his door when they heard the Millers were moving and asked if their son's "fascination" with his wife was the reason.

"I gave no information, except that we needed to get a fresh start and work on our marriage. However, they kept pressing the issue, and finally my response was, 'You don't want to know,' " Miller wrote.

The boy's parents wrote their own letters to Murphy before sentencing, outlining why young males might be fascinated with Kornacki-Miller.

Burgasser said he is prepared to make an issue of the teen's upbringing and the conduct of his parents.

In a criminal rape trial, the alleged victim's sexual past is generally off-limits under New York's rape shield law, but Burgasser said, "A civil case is entirely different."

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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