Lawyer: Pearl River vandal's parents paid big price

The faded graffiti spelling out the title of

The faded graffiti spelling out the title of the Kanye West song "No Church in the Wild" remains at the gymnasium & cafeteria entrance to Pearl River High School Tuesday morning. (June 12, 2012) (Credit: Leslie Barbaro)

An attorney for one of the youths charged with vandalizing Pearl River High School in June said Wednesday that his client's parents paid a bigger price than any judge could ever impose: Not being able to see their son graduate.

Attorney Joseph Mullen made his comments after the last of the vandalism charges was settled.

Plea agreements will require the seven students involved to make restitution for the damage done -- each paying about $440 -- and to complete 40 hours of community service


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Mullen was critical of the way school authorities handled the incident.

"It was just a very political thing for the school to do," Mullen said of the decision to exclude his 18-year-old client from graduation ceremonies. "I understand the school had to set a precedent ... but I think they could have handled it better."

On June 7, the day before classes ended, vandals used spray paint to imprint on an exterior wall of the school the title of a hop-hop tune by Kanye West and Jay-Z: "No Church in the Wild." Track and field equipment was pulled from the football field into a courtyard and a portable fence was knocked over. School officials estimated damages at nearly $10,000.

Mullen's client was not able to attend or walk at his graduation ceremony.

"The principal shouldn't have taken any action," Mullen said. "They were found guilty before they even went to court. They were just suspects."

Mullen said the exclusion from graduation ceremonies was "very hard on the parents" because "everybody wants to see their child graduate high school."

The lawyer said his client was "very upset that he let his mother down."

School officials declined to comment on the resolution of the case yesterday.

Each deal in the case was made as an adjournment and contemplation of dismissal -- also known as an ACD -- in which the charges will be sealed and dismissed after six months if the defendant stays out of trouble during that time.

The names of those involved were not disclosed because they were charged as youthful offenders.

A hearing was scheduled for 6 p.m. next Wednesday at the Orangetown Justice Court to ensure compliance.

Attorneys for each of the other offenders did not return repeated calls for comment. The Pearl River High School principal, William Furdon, could not immediately be reached.

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