|Saturday, October 11
Outspoken parents told to keep quiet
MERRICK, N.Y. -- Two parents who spoke publicly about the alleged sexual assault of three high school football players by their teammates received threatening letters telling them to keep quiet, Nassau County police said Saturday.
"We were given the letters," said police spokesman Officer Patrick Byrne. "The matter is under investigation." No arrests have been made, he said.
The anonymous, handwritten letters bore no return address and were postmarked in neighboring Queens. The parents were warned in the notes that they would be sodomized with broomsticks unless they stopped speaking about the case, said Jim Rullo, who received one of the letters.
Three varsity players at Mepham High School have been accused of sodomizing three younger teammates with pine cones, golf balls and a broomstick at a preseason training camp in Pennsylvania.
Rullo said the letter read, "It's this simple: Keep your mouth shut and nothing will happen to you or your family."
Rullo received the letter four days after he read a statement from the mother of one of the victims during a school board meeting. The statement was critical of the high school administration and the football team's coaches.
Rullo, the father of a non-football playing Mepham student, said he knew immediately that there was something wrong when the letter with two stamps affixed arrived in his mailbox one week ago.
"I told my wife, `Wow, this does not look good,"' Rullo said. "I held it up to the light, and then I opened it. I read it, and it was a little bit unsettling."
Rullo decided to go public about the letter because he felt not enough people have spoken about the alleged assaults.
Parents have said that the three players who face charges threatened their teammates and ordered them to keep quiet.
"The silence is deafening," Rullo said. "Now that it's hit my doorstep, how do I respond? I can't sit with my head down. There comes a time where you have to say, 'No more.' "
The recipient of the second letter, which arrived earlier this week, did not want to be identified.
Three football players -- a 17-year-old and two 16-year-olds -- face multiple juvenile charges over the incident, including five felonies. A Pennsylvania prosecutor said last week that he would try to prosecute the suspects as adults.
If convicted as adults, they could face sentences of 15 years in prison without parole.