Friday, January 26, 2007

Lame apologies; No forgiveness; Off to jail they go

Joseph LePore and Sean Ryan walked into a Newark, New Jersey courtroom shortly after 10 a.m. today wearing jeans and casual clothes. They were there for their sentencing, having pleaded guilty to arson (and some smaller charges) for their roles in setting the January 2000 fire at Seton Hall University that killed 3 freshmen and injured more than 50 others. Why jeans and casual clothing? Well, after each were sentenced to 5 years in state prison -- eligible for parole after just 16-months -- the two men left the courtroom in handcuffs and were to be processed and turned over to the Department of Corrections.

We still wish that these two men had taken responsibility for what they did. They still blame the University for the deaths of their victims. But even if Seton Hall should have had sprinklers to combat fires, the facts remains that LePore and Ryan started the fire. End of story.

We wish they had offered something more than a lame apology to the victims and their families. Instead Sean Ryan merely repeated himself: "I am very, very, very sorry for your losses. I'm very, very sorry." And LePore didn't offer much more: "I wish I could do something to take away your pain. I'm sorry." To be forgiven, you need to admit what you did. They still have admitted nothing more than pulling a "prank that got out of hand."

Speaking of forgiveness, there wasn't much of that to go around.

Frank Caltabilota Jr.'s father told LePore and Ryan: "I can't forgive you both for what you have done." He called the pair cowards, and told how they set a banner on fire and ran from the dormitory - not bothering to warn others of the danger. Frank's mom also said that she would never forgive the two.

More to come.

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