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Fire Dept. Accused of Sexual Abuse

Fire Dept. Accused of Sexual Abuse


Male-on-male sexual abuse, including forced sodomy, is a "rite of passage" for new recruits to the volunteer fire department in Piermont, N.Y., a new lawsuit alleges.

The suit, filed in federal court by Mark Bernstein on behalf of his 17-year-old son, claims the son was "forcibly caused to engage in acts of sodomy, all against his will and consent" when he joined the volunteer force last August, Courthouse News Service reports.

The complaint says, "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." This hazing was a prerequisite for joining the department, the suit claims.

Bernstein says his son was "battered, physically restrained, pushed, shoved and forced into submission" and had to seek medical and psychological treatment. He is "permanently damaged," his father says.

The village -- a small, affluent community on the Hudson River north of New York City -- and three firefighters are named as defendants. The Bernsteins seek damages for "battery, civil rights violations, and outrage," the news service reports.

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