WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CN) – A man claims that forcible sodomy is a “prerequisite” for volunteers at the Piermont Fire Department. He says that when his teen-age son volunteered, firefighters “forcibly caused [him] to engage in acts of sodomy, all against his will and consent,” and that this “ritual” is “a prerequisite” for all people who want to join.
Mark Bernstein sued the Village of Piermont and three named firefighters in Federal Court, on behalf of his 17-year-old son.
Bernstein claims the village knew about the hazing ritual and “took no steps to prevent this rite of passage and as such acquiesced in its implementation.”
He claims that when his son volunteered for the force, in August 2010, he was “battered, physically restrained, pushed, shoved and forced into submission,” and that the sexual abuse left him “physically and psychologically ill.” It caused him to seek medical and psychological treatment and has left him “permanently damaged.”
The father says every prospective firefighter is subjected to this hazing and that Piermont “manifested a deliberate indifference to these violations of civil rights” and created “a receptive atmosphere for the various acts of pedophilia performed by the co-defendants.”
The complaint states: “(S)ometime prior to Aug. 14, 2020, and on occasions too numerous to mention, the defendant the Village of Piermont promulgated, fostered and implemented a policy whereby new arrivals (‘initiates’) into the position of volunteer firefighter would be subject to a form of ‘hazing’ whereby fellow firefighters would restrain the initiate’s movements, depriving him of his freedom of movement, expose their genitals to the said initiate, and attempt to forcibly cause the initiate to place his hand upon and/or fondle the genitals of various members of the Piermont Fire Department, and/or force the said initiate against his will by dint of duress to sodomize an existing firefighter.
“Sixth: That upon information and belief, the aforementioned exercise of what the defendant The Village of Piermont deemed to be ‘hazing’ was done to each and every named individual defendant herein and further deemed to be a ritual utilized as a ‘rite of passage,’ a prerequisite in acceptance into the Village of Piermont Fire Department”.
The father and son seek damages for battery, civil rights violations and outrage. They are represented by Richard Gilbert with Levine & Gilbert of New York, N.Y.
Piermont, on the west bank of the Hudson River, is a town of about 2,600. Its median household income of $88,000 is 61 percent higher than the state average, according to city-data.com. Its fire department apparently is all-volunteer. The town budget for fire protection is extremely low; the village has no official website. It decided to create an official website 2½ years ago but the site is still under construction, according to an Internet search this morning (Thursday).