An upstate New York man who corralled four boys in a closet when he found them vandalizing a relative’s home won’t be prosecuted on child endangerment charges, a prosecutor said on Thursday.
Wayne County District Attorney Richard Healy said that he reviewed Jesse Daniels’ case and recommended that a town justice dismiss the four counts of endangering the welfare of a child that were filed against Daniels earlier this month.
Police charged Daniels, 53, after the parents of the boys, ages 8 and 10, complained that he handled them roughly after finding them inside his father-in-law’s home in Clyde on the night of June 8. The home is next door to the house where Daniels and his wife live in the rural village located midway between Rochester and Syracuse.
Daniels told police he and his wife heard noises coming from his father-in-law’s home, which he was renovating. He went next door while his wife called 911. Once inside, he found four boys with hammers, the interior trashed, with holes in the walls, broken windows and spray-painted graffiti.
Daniels took the hammers away from the boys and put the four children in a closet until police arrived. He estimated the home’s damage at more than $40,000.
Healy sent a letter Thursday to Galen Town Court Justice Lester Carr saying he was declining to prosecute Daniels “in the interest of justice.” The boys were charged with burglary and criminal mischief. Their cases were handled Wednesday in Wayne County Family Court.
Daniels said he believed the boys committed the vandalism in retaliation for Daniels’ wife telling them earlier in the day to stay off the couple’s property.
“When I had them in the closet,” Daniels said, “I said, ‘You guys know me. I’m your neighbor. Why did you do this?’”
Paul Bowler, the father of two of the boys, said Daniels grabbed the neck of one of his sons and left a mark. He said that his boys are traumatized and that Daniels should have faced more charges.
“I understand they were in the wrong, but there are other ways to handle it,” Bowler said last week.
Healey said they may charge Bowler and his wife for endangering the welfare of their children. He said that the parents had a responsibility to not allow children on the streets so late at night.
“We are looking into the parents,” Healey said. “The parents of the children may in fact be prosecuted.”
He also said the children may be responsible for other acts of vandalism around the village.