NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Three firefighters accused of sexually abusing a teenage volunteer in a hazing incident will face a village judge in Rockland County, amid accusations of a coverup.
Marc Bernstein made the accusations in an exclusive interview with CBS 2.
“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.
He said the assault happened when his son, 16-years-old at the time, tried to become a junior member of the Village of Piermont’s Empire Hose Company No. 1 in Rockland County.
The boy said he was tied to a chair and forced to have sexual contact with two older teens and a 30-year-old man. All three of the accused have been charged only with misdemeanors.
In addition, the two 18-year-olds were granted juvenile offender status at the discretion of the judge.
Bernstein said political insiders in the small town were downplaying the assault.
“It’s very, very frustrating and it’s very painful, very painful,” said Marc Bernstein. “We want this presented to a grand jury. Let a jury of our peers decide, not somebody sitting in an office making this decision.”
One of the defendants is the son of Piermont’s Assistant Fire Chief. Another is the son of a local fire inspector.
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.
“We have reason to believe there is at least one other victim of the defendants in this case,” he said.
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.
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