EXCLUSIVE: An 18-year-old special needs student charged with molesting a 3-year-old boy he’d pinned in a locker at the Leonia firehouse has been indefinitely committed to the secure unit of Bergen Regional Medical Center, under guard by the county Sheriff’s Office, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
Although Darius E. Levine tentatively has an initial court appearance scheduled for next week, a source said today: “We don’t know when that’s going to happen. It depends on an evaluation.”
He remains held on $100,000 bail.
Screams brought volunteers running last Thursday at the firehouse, where they found the young son of a volunteer firefighter pinned in a locker, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
Levine was “touching the boy and touching himself,” a source with direct knowledge of the incident said.
Firefighters pulled Levine away, then called police, as the frightened youngster was comforted.
The boy was riding scooters with his brother when the incident occurred behind a firetruck, the source said.
Investigators were at the firehouse for several hours into the night before arresting Levine and charging him with second-degree sexual assault by contact following an intensive review of the circumstances.
The youngest of three adopted special-needs children in his family, the 4-foot-11-inch Levine has spent a lot of time around the Leonia firehouse, a department source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
He’s been unable to become a full-fledged firefighter because of his disabilities, the source said — explaining that, although Levine is intelligent, he is also developmentally and physically disabled.
Levine is scheduled to graduate next year from the Community School of Teaneck, which serves children with learning disabilities and attention deficits.
He has also participated in the Puffin Cultural Forum, a project of the Teaneck-based Puffin Foundation Ltd., which reaches into the community for artwork and photography from all walks of life.
The Leonia firehouse was closed to all but fire protection and other emergencies on Friday as the investigation continued.
Although firefighters said they believed ordinary activities would resume the next day, borough officials suspended department operations on Monday and secured mutual aid agreements from Fort Lee and Teaneck to cover their respective sides of town.
Residents packed a Borough Council meeting last night to express their frustration at the move.
Members of the 115-year-old volunteer squad had previously begun inquiring about creating a paid department.
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