4 teens face charges after house party

By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / March 25, 2010

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EAST BRIDGEWATER — A mother’s dream vacation in Paris turned into a nightmare last month when she returned to find her son’s classmates had crashed a party and destroyed much of her home — punching through walls and ceilings, stealing computers, and soiling the floor and closets with blood and urine.

Police estimated the teenagers’ rampage caused more than $45,000 in damage.

“They destroyed everything, basically destroyed our lives,’’ Jill Steidle said yesterday, trying to hold back her frustration. “It was just breathtaking, everything you worked so hard for.’’

Steidle had gone to Paris for a vacation with her husband and parents, and her daughter and three nieces, who all turn 16 this year.

Police earlier this week charged four teenagers in the Feb. 20 vandalism, and said more people could be arrested.

But Steidle is calling on school officials and the community to do more to punish four students she says have continued to harass her family, calling her 18-year-old son a snitch, setting up Facebook pages mocking the destruction, and refusing to acknowledge any role in the incident. One Facebook page, according to court records, was called the “Homewrecker Crew.’’

“It’s all a joke to these kids,’’ Steidle, 42, said. “There are no consequences, and that’s why they keep doing what they’re doing.’’

One of the teenagers was described by police as a frequent nuisance in town who “has not been able to stay out of trouble and in fact he continues to be involved in increasingly more destructive behavior,’’ according to court records.

The teen, 18-year-old Gersham E. Grossman, does not have a criminal record but has been involved in a number of incidents, including larcenies, shoplifting, and malicious destruction of property complaints that have been resolved by police and his parents, according to court records.

Grossman was charged with malicious damage to a motor vehicle, the family truck, and using a motor vehicle without authority. He pleaded not guilty in Brockton District Court, and a pretrial hearing has been scheduled for May 7. Grossman was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Michael Edwards, 17, and Daniel Peterson, 18, also were charged with malicious destruction of property.

They pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in District Court; pretrial hearings were scheduled for May.

A 16-year-old was also charged with larceny and brought before juvenile court.

Steidle said she was shocked to hear that even after the students were arrested they were allowed to attend East Bridgewater High School with her son. She has called for them to be suspended, and said they should not be able to attend graduation ceremonies.

“They don’t deserve it,’’ she said.

Her son, fearing for his safety, has not gone to the school since the four were arraigned earlier this week.

He is not going to his prom, she said.

Steidle, who said she was told that the students may go before a disciplinary hearing on Monday, yesterday met with the school principal, Paul D. Vieira, to express her outrage.

Vieira would not comment on the incident or the students yesterday, confirming only that he met with Steidle.

According to court records, Steidle’s son was staying with friends and relatives and went to his home on Elm Street to let out the cat when revelers started showing up.

He asked them to leave, but they would not.

Court records indicate he did not call police because he feared he would get beat up. And from 7 to 11 p.m., more people started showing up.

For several hours that night, they partied. Some urinated on beds and in bureaus. Fights broke out and blood spilled on the floor. Someone stole DVDs, jewelry, a Sony PlayStation 3, video games, and a laptop, among other items. Several of the revelers broke through walls with baseball bats, according to court records.

Police Detective Michael E. Jenkins said yesterday that the investigation is ongoing and more charges are possible as evidence is compiled.

He said the circumstances of how the party started remain under investigation.

“It didn’t give them the right to ruin the house,’’ he said. “This just got out of control.’’

He said the family had to bring in specialty cleaners. Wooden floors were damaged, and flour was poured down toilets.

“It was just disgusting,’ he said.

But at least one of the partygoers, the 16-year-old, told the Globe yesterday that only a select few “with reputations’’ have been targeted in a party that was crashed by dozens of others.

“There are a lot of false accusations towards me and a few people,’’ he said. “It’s being blamed on four kids, and there were at least 100 people there.’’

The teenager acknowledged that the party grew out of control.

He said he felt bad for the mother and the family, but said that he had always been friendly with the son and that the party had been planned. He said two other parties were held there that week.

“Pretty much everyone in the house was intoxicated, and when you have that many people in one place, not much good can happen from that,’’ he said. “It was a house party that went wrong. Everyone was wreaking havoc.’’

Milton Valencia can be reached at