Saturday, July 09, 2005

Sexual Education At Home


A Long Island woman was indicted yesterday on rape charges for allegedly encouraging her 13-year-old daughter and another girl to have sex with two older teenagers, providing them liquor and inviting them to their hotel room.

"This all started in the bedroom, on the bed, in front of the mother," Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro said of the alleged crime at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on April 19. "There were comments by the mother that 'It's about time she had sex,' and 'What happens in White Plains, stays in White Plains.' The girls (were) saying to the mother that they're having sex. She didn't think anything of it. I'm sure now she does."

The 41-year-old Long Island mother, whom Pirro would not identify in order to protect the victims' identities, was an accessory to the rape and was therefore charged with the same crime as the two other suspects. A— Pleasantville Cottage School resident Gilberto Gonzalez, 19, and Michael Berger, 18, then a bus boy at the Crowne Plaza. Gonzalez and Berger were charged with second-degree rape, a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.

The mother was charged with two counts of second-degree rape and several misdemeanors counts of endangering the welfare of a child and unlawfully dealing with a child, the latter for providing the girls with alcohol. While the woman remains in jail pending her arraingment, her husband is pursuing a divorce and permanent custody of their two children, Pirro said.

The woman, from Sayville, allegedly brought her daughter and two girlfriends -— ages 13 and 14 — to White Plains for two days of shopping. There, the girls met Gonzalez and Berger on an elevator at the City Center and again at the Applebee's restaurant in the center, where they exchanged cell phone numbers, Pirro said.

The mother and girls called to invite them back to The Crowne Plaza, where they were staying. The mother then bought them liquor, which they drank back at the hotel. She watched as the girls started making out with the boys on the bed. Then Gonzalez allegedly took the 14-year-old into the bathroom for sex. A short time later, Berger allegedly had sex with the daughter in a hallway outside the mother's room. The woman saw this happening, but did nothing to intervene and even gave her approval, according to Pirro.

"It's clear she knew what was going on," Pirro said. "She was amused by it. She thought it was something that should happen, and the sooner it happens, the better."

Berger's lawyer, Richard Portale, suggested that the only person who should have been charged was the mother. He said phone records indicate several calls from the mother to his client and that the mother and the girls claimed the girls were 16 years old.

"He was also plied with alcohol," Portale said. "This was a big setup by the one adult involved. I view my client as a victim of this parent, as the girl is a victim of this parent. It's a case of irresponsible parenting."

Portale would not even concede that his client was guilty of a lesser statutory rape charge, suggesting that there would be no proof that Berger engaged in sex with the girl. The mother is being held on 20,000 bail in Westchester County jail in Valhalla, pending her arrangement in county court later this week. Berger was released on 4,500 bail, and Gonzalez is being held on 7,000 bail pending their arraignments.


Wow, that's what I call sexual education at home.

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