NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A group of firefighters in Rockland County is accused of sexually abusing a teenage volunteer. For the first time, the boy’s father is speaking out about what happened to his son.
During his exclusive interview with CBS 2, Marc Bernstein was trying hard to keep his anger in check.
“This has destroyed my son’s life – a serious sex crime has been committed and I want those responsible to be held accountable,” Bernstein told CBS 2′s Lou Young.
Bernstein’s son was 16 last summer when he tried to become a junior firefighter at the Village of Piermont’s Empire Hose Company No. 1 in Rockland County. The boy said the hazing incident happened inside the fire headquarters and that he was tied to a chair and forced to have sexual contact with two older teens and a 30-year-old man.
Bernstein’s lawyer said initial complaints in the small town went nowhere.
“They were stonewalled, and it wasn’t until Mr. Bernstein came to my office and we approached the District Attorney’s office that we got any reaction at all,” Attorney Richard Gilbert said.
The three Piermont firefighters were charged with misdemeanors in Village court even though the victim describes what appears to have been an act of sodomy. In addition, the two 18 years olds were granted juvenile offender status at the discretion of the judge. There may be other victims, according to Gilbert.
“We have reason to believe there is at least one other victim of the defendants in this case,” he said.
Marc Bernstein said he believes the incident is being swept under the rug.
“It’s terribly frustrating and it’s very, very painful. Very painful,” he said. “We want this presented to a grand jury. Let a jury of our peers decide, not somebody sitting in an office making this decision.”
District Attorney Thomas Zugibe dismissed allegations of a cover-up. He said the charges being brought were appropriate to the facts uncovered in the case. The misdemeanor case of endangering the welfare of a child and harassment will go before a Village judge Wednesday night.