N.J. authorities probe gay-bias claim

BY admin

May 08 2004 12:00 AM ET

Two gay men have complained that firefighters who work next door to their New Jersey house threatened to kill them, tried to break into their house, and damaged a fence in a series of escalating incidents. Authorities are investigating the allegations involving a half-dozen members of the Secaucus Volunteer Fire Department.

The two men said the firefighters also threatened their two dogs and used antigay taunts and epithets. Peter de Vries, 55, and Timothy Carter, 45, said that during the same tirade last month, the firefighters tried to break in, damaging the fence. "These guys were all over the house, trying to pull down that fence and trying to bust out those windows, shouting 'We're gonna kill you, we're gonna kill you,"' said Carter, who, like de Vries, is a medical journal editor. "We're scared of these guys."

Fire chief Frank Waters did not respond to messages left Thursday seeking comment.

The two men said the firefighters were carousing loudly in the firehouse parking lot when Carter asked them to quiet down. The men said the attack was a terrifying climax to several months of less direct confrontation by a group of younger firefighters who regularly rang their front door bell and ran. On several occasions, Carter and de Vries said they found their back deck littered with used condoms.

Hudson County prosecutor Edward J. DeFazio called the alleged behavior "reprehensible" and said Thursday that the county bias crimes unit was reviewing police reports. The mayor of Secaucus has condemned the alleged misbehavior, and the police chief said his office took the allegations "extremely seriously." No firefighters have been identified individually, and no charges have been filed.

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