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'These Are Good Boys'

By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY — May 31, 2002 – Anthony Hynson knows in his heart that he’s raised two good boys.
The father of four moved to Liberty with wife Lisa last year to escape “a bad situation” in Dutchess County. He wanted to raise his children in a place where they could heal, he said, and deal with their emotional disabilities.
But two weeks ago, Hynson’s son Raymond Swett, 16, and stepson Joseph Beach, 17, were taken into police custody for desecration of the Liberty Cemetery. Each of the boys are being charged with 65 felony counts for a May 14 incident in which headstones were toppled and broken.
Their dad gave them up to police to teach Swett and Beach they can’t hide from what they do.
But now Hynson believes that may have been a mistake.
The boys, both Liberty High School students, are sitting in jail right now, awaiting trial. They were denied bail, and Hynson wants to know why.
Each of the boys has a history of mental illness. Each has been sexually abused in their past, and each has had a pretty horrific childhood, according to their dad. They’ve been through the Sullivan County mental health system, but Hynson said they’ve fallen through the cracks.
Now he wants the chance to get them the help they need.
“I’m asking for leniency,” Hynson said. “I’m asking that they be allowed to come back home.
“These are good boys; they just did something stupid.”
Hynson said he hasn’t excused what Swett and Beach have done. Punishment is in order for their crimes, he noted, but nothing like the jail sentence of up to four years that the boys face.
And he wants the angry Liberty community to know that his sons are remorseful for their actions.
“They’re not really bad kids,” he said.
“Our lawyer told me the community is angry,” Hynson said. “And I was thinking about why they’re angry. Maybe it’s someone’s mother or someone’s grandmother up there.
“I understand that,” he added.
According to Liberty Supervisor Dick Martinkovic, the majority of the damage was done in a portion of the cemetery which is owned by the Town of Liberty.
Tombstones were also damaged in St. Peter’s Cemetery and the portion of the graveyard controlled by the Liberty Cemetery Association.
Since the incident, volunteers have come forward to help fix as many of the damaged stones as possible. Some of the older ones were destroyed, however, Martinkovic said.
The town is unable to contribute monetarily to the project. The work is dependent entirely on volunteerism in the area unless the district attorney’s office seeks restitution from the boys.
Martinkovic has spoken with District Attorney Steve Lungen and expects the boys will be asked to pay for their crimes and possibly do community service. Any jail time requested is up to the prosecutor.
But, Martinkovic said, the feeling in the community is that the boys should be held responsible in some way for what they’ve done.
“I don’t care whether they’re good kids,” he noted. “They have no reason to have done this.
“I wouldn’t doubt that they’re good kids, but that night they weren’t good citizens.”
Hynson is afraid that the one-and-a-half to four-year sentence the boys each face would be too much for their emotional state.
“The average stress kids deal with wasn’t average for them,” Hynson said.
One son had been harassed by drug dealers on the streets near their Liberty home, he noted. Both were feeling the effects of the death of Tyrone Jackson, a Liberty teen who died in a tragic accident earlier in the month.
“Yes, what they did was wrong, but they didn’t think,” he noted. “These boys have been through things people shouldn’t have to go through.”
Hynson does agree that the boys should be held responsible for their actions, but he’s hoping the terms will be less than jail time.
“I think they should have community service at the place that they’ve desecrated,” he noted. “I’ve taught my sons that if they’ve made a mistake, I take them back to the issue and they have to face it.”
Swett and Beach are expected to be back in Liberty Village Court Tuesday.

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