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.

Comments (4)
  1. Juanita Sanchez says:

    Being a parent I totally understand wanting to protect my child but this story is getting blown out of proportion. No one was tied to any chair nor touched. There was no sexual assault nor any sexual intent at all. Yes, this may have been a case of hazing but it is also a case of a kid who couldn’t cut it being cut by a team of highly skilled firefighters. The boys involved have been firefighters since they were just 15 or 16. They spend their nights, weekends and holidays saving people from brining homes, fishing their bodies out of the hudson river, putting their lives on the line for others.

    The DA make the correct call by charging these boys as juveniles. If there was something done to this boy it was the 30 year old man who should be raked over the coals not these 18 year old boys. The man should have known better. Persue him not these kids.

    1. Onslow says:

      The definitive nature of your comment leads me to believe you were a witness to the incident in question. If that is the case, then you need to step forward as a witness. If you were not a witness, you have no place to make your comment.

    2. KPMc says:

      Maybe your son doesn’t mind but not every kid should have to put up with that. Tell me… do they also gather the boys together to watch ultimate fighting and then “wrestle” with their shirts off to show how tough they are?

      Does your son like stories about “gladiators”?

      1. Leslie Nielsen says:

        Surely, you jest. On second thought, they are called “Village of Piermont’s Empire HOSE Company No. 1”. Hmmm.

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