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Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, November 24, 2005

Satterday pleads guilty

By Matt Cook

BERNE — A Berne man pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a girl whom he was babysitting in Watervliet.

Gordon Satterday, 34, of 1638 Helderberg Trail, Berne, pleaded guilty last Thursday, before Judge Stephen W. Herrick, to one count of first-degree sexual abuse.

He faces three years in state prison and two years of post-release supervision.

According to the Watervliet Police Department at the time of the arrest, on Sept. 23 Satterday was babysitting the child of an acquaintance in Watervliet when he molested her. The girl was younger than 11 years old, the indictment says.

The girl told her mother about the abuse, police say, and the mother called the police. Satterday was picked up by the police, and, during an interview, admitted to the crime, said Watervliet Sergeant Edward Watson.

Watson described the abuse as "inappropriate fondling of the genitals."

Satterday had no prior history of abuse, Watson said.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares noted the speed with which the case was prosecuted. Now, he said, the victim can get on with her life.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 19, 2006.

After legal action: Ackroyd wants to get paid

By Matt Cook

BERNE — It’s been almost a year since Edward Ackroyd and his son, Wade, sued the Berne Fire District to allow absentee ballots in a fire-district election. Although the suit resulted in the fire district issuing absentee ballots and changing the date of the election to accommodate the ballots, Ackroyd believes the matter hasn’t been totally resolved. The fire district owes him the amount of his legal fees, Ackroyd said. The fees total $550.

According to section 8101 of the New York Civil Practice Laws and Rules, "The party in whose favor a judgment is entered is entitled to costs in the action, unless otherwise provided by statute or unless the court determines that to so allow costs would not be equitable under all of the circumstances."

The question however, is if the agreement, reached in New York State Supreme Court between Ackroyd and the fire district last December, qualifies as a judgment.

"We’re doing some research on that, legally," said William Young, the fire district’s attorney. "If we’re not liable to pay, we’re not going to pay."

If his research reveals that the fire district is responsible for the costs, Young said, the district will pay. Young said that the district’s previous attorney, William Conboy, who represented the district at the time of the lawsuit, felt the district was not obligated to pay.

From reading the court documents from last December, Young said, "It does not, at any point, indicate that anyone is going to be entitled to costs."

Last December, Wade Ackroyd, who was away at college, wanted to vote in a fire district election for fire commissioners and a new quarter-million dollar firetruck. When his father, Edward, contacted the fire district, asking for an absentee ballot for his son, he was told they weren’t available, which led to the suit.

The Ackroyds and the fire district reached an agreement last year in the chambers of New York State Supreme Court Judge William McCarthy. In open court, McCarthy ruled to allow the settlement and authorized the commissioners to move the date of the elections. He also waived a legal requirement to release the new absentee ballots at least 60 days before then elections.

Edward Ackroyd is asking to be reimbursed $550 for his legal fees. He sees the district’s failure to pay as another example of the poor administration that caused his lawsuit in the first place.

He noted that, in court last December, Conboy told the judge that his clients were firefighters, not experts on the law.

"Actually, it seems that they still are firemen," Ackroyd said.

Ackroyd’s lawyer, Michael Rhodes-Devey, said a judgment was made in the case.

"We did not disagree on the action, but there was a settlement on the record," Rhodes-Devey said.

Rhodes-Devey sent a letter to Young in August, requesting the money. Young responded, by letter, asking on what grounds Ackroyd was entitled to the money. In a letter dated Sept. 27, Rhodes-Devey cited the state’s civil practice law. Since then, Rhodes-Devey said, he and Ackroyd have not heard from the fire district or its attorney.

If the fire district does not pay, Rhodes-Devey and Ackroyd said, they are going to continue to pursue the money.

"We’re going to enforce this like any other decision," Rhodes-Devey said. However, he said, "We don’t want to go after a public institution in a harsh manner."

"We’ll chase it," Ackroyd said.

Meanwhile, Ackroyd said, the case is providing an educational opportunity to the students of Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School. A school board member, Ackroyd is giving copies of all his legal documents to BKW Superintendent Steven Schrade to pass on to the government teacher.

"The kids get to learn how local government works, in this case a fire district government," Ackroyd said.

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