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Lawsuit claims Piermont, New York Fire Department involved in forcible sodomy for new members. Father sues on behalf of 17-year-old son.


Piermont Fire Department from Google Maps.

Piermont Fire Department website

Courthouse News Service

Read complaint via Curt Varone's

Reprinted with permission by CNS, Courthouse News Service. Article by Chris Fry.:

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, 2010, 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 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). 

Comments - Add Yours

  • WillMega06

    You would have to kill me! If this is true that is some twisted *#**! What is the fire service coming to?!

  • Sharppointy1

    Oh My God…Is this real? Do things like this really happen? I am horrified beyond words that this happened to even one teen/volunteer, let alone that it was “accepted practice” at this company. What’s the solution? Will all of the persons involved be arrested for felony child abuse, hopefully removing their ability to volunteer anymore?
    What is the right thing to do here?
    Speechless Sharppointy1

  • Paul Marshall

    That's a big IF Will.  Innocent until proven guilty, far too little info here to judge either way.  That being said, if these accusations are proven to be true I hope the book is thrown at these people

  • Anonymous

    What a disgrace these men are to the fire service . They should be arrested and charged as child abusers.

  • paramedic70002

    I believe in aliens and bigfoot but the massive nature of this allegation is a little hard to swallow. Especially since they apparently skipped criminal charges and went straight for the money.

    • dave statter

      I have been wondering all day what, if any, criminal investigation has been done.

  • Legeros

    I think the S word might top the list of phrase least desired in fire service headlines…

  • T Hodge

    How many more slaps in the faces can the fire service take? Damn shame, after 39 years of volunteer and paid service we let this kind of crap happen. Va firefighters raping, Fla firefighters running people off the road,  now this what the heck is next

    • Sharppointy1

      @T Hodge – you forgot the Alameda firefighters and police who stood on the beach and watched the suicidal man die.

  • Dickey

    There is definately more to the story here. Money before criminal charges? No mention of of a criminal investigation or even an internal investigation? Hmmm……..something stinks here.

  • Brian McAllister

    That is not hazzing……….its rape

  • dumbfounded

    My mind draws a blank here. I cannot comprehend why a man would do this. Hazing? Male bonding? I can't figure it out. It almost seems like there may be a homosexual thrill recieved by the attackers. And I guess there must be a pedophilic excitement by ghoing after a juvenile. No matter what these attackers reasons were, it makes me sick to my stomach and taste vomit in the back of my throat.
    I hope is these accusations are true, the victim gets millions of dollars and the fire company is left penniless and it is closed down forever. The attackers go to prison for a long time and Karma takes its revenge in prison by a man named Bubba. May you feel the pain you have caused.
    You never were a fireman, you never will be a fireman…you have dirtied the good name of all true firemen. You are nothing more than an immature predator.

  • Knowtheplace

    In speaking with a member today, it is true, however it is not common practice.

  • Legeros

    Hazing with unwanted physical/sexual contact among young male members of a fraternal organization. Haven’t we read those stories for ages, in other arenas? I guess it is not out of the realm of conceivable that it can happen in the context of a fire department organization. Still pretty head-scratching…

  • Dickey

    Now there is criminal charges. Seems as if the plantiff got to the press first. If this really happened then the persons involved should be prosecuted for sexual assault. This is disgusting. A few bad apples make the rest of us look bad. This is a classic case of abusing your position of trust and authority. My thoughts are for the victim(s) in this case. It took a lot of courage to come forward. Hazing is not a common practice in the fire service. Yes, teasing and poking fun is but this is way over the line. I hope they hang 'em high!

    • Legeros

      Is hazing uncommon in the fire service? We had some discussion on that on my blog a couple yars ago. I even made a quiz, asking readers to rate fire station behaviors as razzing or hazing.
      Kind of interesting. If you do a search on "hazing" you'll se more discussion. The blog site is
      The two behaviors particularly rated or commented as unacceptable were messing with gear (safety/job performance) and unwanted physical contact.

  • Hellsmedic

    This is a disgrace to Firefighters and EMS everywhere.

  • Bob

    and after the young men get into the department, you want them to "have your back"?

  • Duffman

    These ass-raping pedophiles are a disgrace.