August, 18 2018

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Problem With Cedar Knolls Rape Case

Three teenagers at the Hawthorne Cedar Knolls residential treatment center accused of raping a 13-year-old girl on campus were ready to plead guilty yesterday in exchange for no jail time, but one of the lawyers balked because the judge could throw out the deal if they are re-arrested before the sentencing.

The Hearing

The hearing was therefore adjourned until Wednesday, when the prosecutors and defense lawyers will again try to finalize the deal in Westchester County Court.

The look of exasperation was palpable on the face of Judge Rory Bellantoni, who put his hand to his head toward the end of a two-hour hearing when lawyer Eugene Trainor questioned a condition that the defendants stay out of trouble before sentencing.

At the time, Trainor's client, Gyale Taylor, 16, of Yonkers, and the other defendants - Stanford Beaulieu, 16, of the Bronx and Mario Rivera, 15, of Brooklyn -had already begun the process of pleading guilty to first-degree rape, a felony punishable by up to 25 years in state prison. The plea deal would give them 10 years' probation and grant them youthful offender status, meaning their criminal records would be sealed.

"Are you pleading guilty because you are in fact guilty?" Bellantoni asked the boys, to which all of them replied, "Yes."

The Accusations

The boys are accused of forcing the girl into a vacant campus building, dragging, punching and slapping her, pulling off her clothes and raping her. The girl, a resident of the center for troubled youngsters, reported the incident to staff about 90 minutes later, but police were not called until several hours later.

The Treatment Center

The Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services runs Cedar Knolls on Linda Avenue, which houses about 300 boys and girls, many from broken homes in New York City who have behavioral problems.

In July, two state agencies announced they would jointly investigate Cedar Knolls and the Pleasantville Cottage School in light of a recent spate of reported rapes at the two residential treatment centers.

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