The mother of one of the 13-year-old boys convicted in the Ramapo rape case apologized to the young victims -- one of whom sat in the back of the courtroom -- during a Friday hearing in Rockland County Family Court.
"I want to apologize to the court, to the parents, to the kids," the boy's mother testified. "As a mother, I am on the other side, [but] I can understand how painful this can be for the girls . . . I want to apologize for my son and what happened."
Her son, along with two other 13-year-olds and a 12-year-old boy, were convicted last month of raping a 14-year-old girl and sexually assaulting her 12-year-old sister in June.
The younger victim, dressed in a black and white striped shirt and black pants, sat silently in the last row of the courtroom while the boy who assaulted her sat just feet away, his head bowed and his hands clasped.
"As a woman, I really feel bad because I know that these girls are hurting mentally and it's not an easy thing to forget," the boy's mother said.
She told the court her son was willing to go to therapy on his own, and spoke of his newfound faith as a Jehovah's Witness.
"Since he was released from detention, I have been home with him every day, I speak to him about this every day," she said. "I explain to him how serious the charges are, how bad he got himself into a very tremendous problem. I tell him how we're going to help him get better and not let this happen again."
In separate hearings for two of the 13-year-old boys Friday, Jean Zambrano, from the Rockland County Department of Probation, testified in both hearings and recommended both boys be placed in juvenile facilities.
The son of the woman who spoke in court "did not understand the nature of the crime," Zambrano said in court. "He minimized his actions. He admitted to part of it but not all of it . . . he recalled she said 'stop' and she was laughing [but] he minimized what happened."
Court-ordered psychiatric evaluations, as well as sex offender risk assessments, for the two boys were presented to Family Court Judge Sherri Eisenpress Friday as evidence.
Daniel Bertolino, the attorney for one of the 13-year-olds, submitted 27 pages of letters written in support of his client from friends and relatives.
Ann Pascale, chief of treatment services at the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), took the stand to describe the options and conditions of facilities should the judge decide to place the boys in juvenile detention.
Pascale said child sex offenders, with treatment, have a 92 percent rate of not repeating the crime.
The four boys -- who are due back in court on Nov. 2 -- may not necessarily have to register as sex offenders, Pascale said.