Last week, I wrote a letter to your parents. This one is for you.
Let me begin by saying that I know you aren’t all from Stephentown. You are from several communities from Utica to Western Massachusetts. And I know you aren’t all bad kids. Really. But wow, what a mess you have gotten yourselves into.
I was teenager once. I did stupid things too. While I never trashed a house or stole a $1200 memorial to a dead child, I did have some lapses in judgment that led me to do things I am not proud of. I have even done things in adulthood that I regret. The bottom line is that people of all ages make mistakes and those who pretend they don’t are outright liars.
Judgment comes when someone doesn’t accept responsibility for their mistakes, doesn’t take steps to make things right, and doesn’t learn anything from it. Whether you were among those planning the party at the Holloway house, buying the alcohol, destroying property, drinking underage or just lying to your parents about where you were going that night, you know what your mistakes were. You have had several chances to accept responsibility for your role in what happened and to make things right by Mr. Holloway and you have chosen not to. That is what you are being judged on, and that is what has people in the community (and now across the country) so upset. The failure to step up to the plate and make things right. To the 4 of you who showed up, worked your behinds off and apologized, thank you. Thank you for doing the right thing. To the seven kids from Cohoes who weren’t even at the party, but decided to show up and help clean anyway? You are beyond awesome.
But what have the rest of you done? Newspaper and TV reports say there have been threats of firebombing Holloway’s house, and threats of lawsuits for putting your pictures on his website. That brings me to the next issue. By now, you must know that what you put online lives forever. Twitter and Instagram are fun ways to communicate, but it is crucial to remember the danger of putting these things out there. Sure, it was fun that night. Maybe even funnier the next day when you went back to your account and remembered bits and pieces of the night. But it’s not something to laugh at. These images have already led to your arrests. What you put online could also keep you from getting a job down the road. You need to learn this right now. Once it’s out there, and can never be undone. Nothing is ever really deleted from the internet. That’s why Mr. Holloway posted the pictures on his site… because YOU put them out there first.
Now, let’s talk about blaming the victim. It seems you and your parents are trying to deflect blame away from yourselves and try to somehow discredit the victim. So, the house is in foreclosure. So, some of the damage was already there. So, he had a domestic incident there 16 years ago with his then-wife. So he has a place on his website where people can donate to either breast cancer research or to a general fund to help him make repairs to the home. So what? None of that is relevant to your role in what happened.
Were you invited by Mr. Holloway to party there? If not, you broke the law. Period. End of story.
Because you broke the law, the hard part is about to begin. Mr. Holloway offered you several opportunities to step up and make it right, and in exchange he wouldn’t pursue criminal charges. Would it have killed you to just say “I’m sorry”? Even if all you did was show up to the party, you still owe this man an apology. And because you didn’t take responsibility and your parents failed to hold you accountable, the legal system is going to do it for you. The first round of you have already been charged. There are many, many more to come. What you are involved in is expected to be the largest roundup of criminals in one case in the history of Rensselaer County.
This is going to be one expensive lesson. I hope it was worth it.