9-Month Sentence In Hazing
By CHRISTINE DEMPSEY
Courant Staff Writer
August 24, 2007
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Silvester Baez had everything going for him.
The son of a single mom, the Bronx, N.Y., teenager studied hard, got good grades and was accepted into a program for gifted minority students, A Better Chance in Glastonbury, known as ABC. There, in a wealthy, suburban Connecticut town, Baez interned with a prestigious architectural firm and served as a student representative on the board of education.
On Thursday, the distraught 17-year-old was sentenced to nine months in prison in Superior Court in Manchester and then led away by a judicial marshal to a court holding cell as more than a dozen of his family members and friends looked on, some wailing. A felony assault conviction will now forever stain his record.
Baez was one of four upperclassmen at the program arrested last year on charges that they abused freshmen as part of an ongoing hazing ritual that included slapping, kicking and beatings with pingpong paddles. Some of the abuse was sexual, police and prosecutors say, although the sexual assault-related charge against Baez was dropped as part of a plea agreement. Baez, and the two upperclassmen who authorities say played the most active roles in attacking the three freshmen, pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree assault in June.
Under a plea deal, nine months was the least prison time Baez could get. Still, his attorney, Dale Roberson, pressed Judge Raymond Norko not to send his client away.
It would be “a miscarriage of justice” to allow a felony conviction to follow Baez the rest of his life, Roberson argued. He pointed out that Baez had earned a full scholarship to Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he already earned grades of A in in two courses this summer.
Roberson decried what he said was a lack of proper supervision at the ABC home, and even compared the environment there to the deserted island in William Golding’s novel “Lord of the Flies,” where unsupervised children spiral into a life of savagery. Although the dorm-like home had supervisors, Roberson said, they ignored the hazing problem for years. Baez himself was hazed, he and Baez said.
Neatly dressed in a dark-colored suit, Baez addressed the court before he was sentenced: “I know that what I did was wrong, just as my attorney stated. … They just want to make an example out of me, that’s how I feel.”
Prosecutor Lisa Herskowitz said she didn’t hear Baez express any remorse for what he did to the 13-year-old victim who sufferedthe most abuse. “Maybe, after years of counseling, he’ll be able to pull himself out of the hell these kids have put him through. …He’s in his own kind of prison.”
The abuse Baez said he endured as a freshman – which included being slapped and having paint thrown on him – was minor in comparison, Herskowitz said.
One of the victim’s mothers traveled from New York City, as did Baez’s family, to attend the sentencing. She looked at Norko when she spoke but talked to Baez.
“You sit there and you look all fancy in your suit,” she said. “You look so innocent.”
But she said he urinated on her child, chased him into other people’s backyards and stacked books on him.
“I just wanted to see if you all are really human,” she said.
Norko agreed with Roberson that supervision was lacking at the facility, but he noted that the supervisors “are not before this court, these children are.”
He gave Baez a sentence of five years in prison, suspended after nine months, followed by five years of probation.
Contact Christine Dempsey at email@example.com.
Teen Gets Jail For Hazing Incident
By CHRISTINE DEMPSEY
The Hartford Courant
5:03 PM EDT, August 23, 2007
A former upperclassman in a Glastonbury program for out-of-state, gifted minority teens was sentenced to nine months in prison today for brutalizing freshmen during an ongoing hazing ritual.
Silvester Baez, 17, of the Bronx, was sentenced to five years in prison, suspended after nine months, followed by five years of probation, despite a plea from his lawyer for no jail time. The sentencing took place in Superior Court in Manchester.
In June, Baez was one of three teens who pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree assault. No contest means he will not fight the charge, although he doesn’t admit guilt. He is the first of the three — who also include Jeff Utobor and Pedro Reyes — to be sentenced.
A fourth teen, Christopher Lewis, pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in March and was given probation. He played a lesser role in the attacks, said prosecutor Lisa Herskowitz.
At the time of the assaults, the three teenagers lived at a home in Glastonbury and attended the local high school through the program, called A Better Chance. In all, four upperclassmen were accused of abusing three freshmen in the home.
The victims were ordered to do push-ups and to fight each other, police said. The freshmen were slapped, punched, kicked and hit with pingpong paddles, according to an arrest warrant.
Baez was one of two upperclassmen who held down a victim while a third inserted a pen in one freshman’s anus, police and prosecutors said. A charge of conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault and other charges were not prosecuted.
Copyright Â© 2007, The Hartford Courant