Justice For Christopher: Gang Assault = Disorderly Conduct
What was initially considered as gang assault has become merely a case of disorderly conduct by one person.
During coverage of recent Plattsburgh City Court cases, WIRY-AM radio local news reported today that Patrick Roszel, 22, of Broad Street pled guilty to disorderly conduct after being charged with harassment, second. Roszel was fined $250 with a $125 surcharge and is to pay $15,200.68 restitution by April 6th. Fifteen days in jail were conditionally discharged on condition that he stays out of trouble for the next year.
I'm not a lawyer or legal expert but this outcome does raise some questions. And after an online search of New York State Penal Law, I have more questions.
Back in November 2010 Christopher Rigsbee was brutally beaten by a group of men on Broad Street. As reported in a previous post on this blog, only one of the men, Roszel, a Plattsburgh State student, ended up in court. Considering the severity of Christopher's injuries, it would seem that Roszel's actions deserved much more than a disorderly conduct charge. Below this post is a second piece, "New York State Penal Law: Which Charge Fits The Crime?," that details the differences between what laws one would assume pertain to the incident -- felonies -- and those that Roszel was charge with -- violations.
If you read the description of harassment in the second degree, the legal system seemed to start somewhat low, not high, with its charge. And reducing the charge down to disorderly conduct is an insult to what Christopher Rigsbee -- and also his girlfriend who was punched by one of the thugs -- went through.
Keep in mind that during grand jury proceedings, the other men involved in the gang assault pointed at Patrick Roszel as being the lead culprit. Also, Christopher's girlfriend was a witness to what happened.
So why has Patrick Roszel been treated so lightly? He and his friends knock three teeth out of their victim, pounding Christopher into the pavement while calling him homophobic slurs. Even under the violation of disorderly conduct, Roszel could have spent up to fifteen days in jail. The WIRY newscast didn't mention anything about him performing community service.
Others have pointed out that Patrick's father, Hugh I. Roszel, Sr., is President of Tricon Piping Systems, Inc. of Syracuse, New York. According to a November 2004 article in The Business Journal, his company had a major expansion back then. Roszel, Sr. stated Tricon was growing quickly and steadily, revenues at a rate of 20 per cent annually.
Roszel, Sr. also has a son, Hugh I. Roszel, Jr. A Hugh Roszel (no Sr. or Jr.) is listed as a member of the Town of Cazenovia Planning Board. Also, a Hugh Roszel is named as Principal under company contacts for Willow Bank Yacht Club in Cazenovia, NY. Patrick Roszel in his online resume lists the Willow Bank Yacht Club as summer employment 2007 - 2010 (Yard Staff).
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New York State Penal Law: Which Charge Fits The Crime?
Considering the violent attack on Christopher Rigsbee, which one of the following would seem to better fit the severity of the crime?
S 120.06 Gang assault in the second degree.
A person is guilty of gang assault in the second degree when, with intent to cause physical injury to another person and when aided by two or more other persons actually present, he causes serious physical injury to such person or to a third person.
Gang assault in the second degree is a class C felony.
S 120.10 Assault in the first degree.
A person is guilty of assault in the first degree when:
1. With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument; or
2. With intent to disfigure another person seriously and permanently, or to destroy, amputate or disable permanently a member or organ of his body, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person; or
3. Under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious physical injury to another person; or
4. In the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempted commission of a felony or of immediate flight therefrom, he, or another participant if there be any, causes serious physical injury to a person other than one of the participants.
Assault in the first degree is a class B felony.
S 240.26 Harassment in the second degree.
A person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person:
1. He or she strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects such other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same; or
2. He or she follows a person in or about a public place or places; or
3. He or she engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which alarm or seriously annoy such other person and which serve no legitimate purpose.
Subdivisions two and three of this section shall not apply to activities regulated by the national labor relations act, as amended, the railway labor act, as amended, or the federal employment labor management act, as amended.
Harassment in the second degree is a violation.
§ 240.20 Disorderly conduct.
A person is guilty of disorderly conduct when, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof:
1. He engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening
2. He makes unreasonable noise; or
3. In a public place, he uses abusive or obscene language, or makes an
obscene gesture; or
4. Without lawful authority, he disturbs any lawful assembly or meeting of persons; or
5. He obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic; or
6. He congregates with other persons in a public place and refuses to
comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse; or
7. He creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.
Disorderly conduct is a violation.
New York Penal - Article 10 - § 10.00 Definitions of Terms of General Use in This Chapter (Excerpts)
3. "Violation" means an offense, other than a "traffic infraction," for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of fifteen days cannot be imposed.
5. "Felony" means an offense for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year may be imposed.