News

Actions

Lewiston teen charged with rape at home where parents are accused of hosting booze-fueled parties

Posted: 4:37 PM, Dec 04, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-04 23:17:59Z

It all started with a tip to the New York Department of Social Services Child Abuse Hotline by a staff member from a Buffalo-area school.

The tipster notified police that possible criminal activity was happening inside a home on Mountain View Drive in Lewiston Heights.

The investigation that ensued by New York State Police led to a teenager, his mother and stepfather all facing criminal charges.

The 17-year-old boy, who 7 Eyewitness News is not naming because he is a minor, is charged with first degree rape, third degree rape and sexual abuse involving multiple 15- and 16-year-old girls.

A source close to the victims tells 7 Eyewitness News that "multiple" alleged sex abuse incidents took place inside the home.

The accused teen's mother, Tricia Vacanti, 47, and her husband, Gary Sullo, 53, have been charged for allegedly supplying alcohol to minors during at least six booze-fueled occasions at that same home over the past year and a half .

The specific allegations against the 17-year old son have not been made public because the case is currently sealed by the Town of Lewiston Court.

7 Eyewitness News has learned the family was also hosting a 17-year-old female exchange student from Italy, who was attending Lew-Port High School.

Paul Casseri, Superintendent of Lewiston Porter Central School District, says he was contacted by investigators in September who wanted to speak with the exchange student. 

"We ultimately came to know that the issue was specifically with a young man (son) living at the [Mountain View Drive] address.  We contacted EF Exchange and they worked with investigators to facilitate that conversation.  EF Exchange made the decision to remove the exchange student from the home," Casseri said.

The charges against the teenage son and the detailed allegations listed in the criminal complaint against his guardians have rocked the affluent community where they live, as well as Canisius High School, the elite private boys school he attended.

The now-former student's friends were stunned when news of the charges came out on November 7th , according to a Canisius staff member who spoke to 7 Eyewitness News on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from school officials.

“No boy knows where the hammer might fall next,” the staffer said.

Edward Cosgrove, the attorney representing Canisius, confirms the school was first contacted by investigators on September 20th, 2018.

In a statement, Cosgrove told 7 Eyewitness News the teen was "placed on home study" within days of the school being contacted by investigators, and withdrew altogether on October 25th.

"Since Canisius cannot know what takes place during the student's time outside of the school day and beyond its supervision and care, the school offers its prayers and concerns for everyone involved," Cosgrove wrote in a statement to 7 Eyewitness News.

7 Eyewitness News has spoken with several neighbors and people familiar with the family, who describe frequent parties at the Lewiston home on Mountain View Drive, involving many teenagers.

Neighbors tell us the home was known by teens as the "party house" where kids knew they could drink.

Court documents paint a picture of parties fueled by alcohol and marijuana. In one complaint, Vacanti is accused of supplying Jell-O shots and smoking marijuana with the teenagers. Police also cite video evidence of Vacanti and Sullo providing booze to minors.

The teen, who is being represented by attorney Barry Covert, has pleaded not guilty. He was released on $5,000 bond and has been living in the Southern Tier with his biological father, according to multiple sources.

Covert declined our request for comment.

Vacanti and Sullo have also pleaded not guilty.

All three defendants are set to appear in Town of Lewiston Court on December 18th.