DUANESBURG - One of the two teens charged last week in the May vandalism that briefly shut down Christman Sanctuary in Duanesburg faces an additional felony in connection with a swastika spray painted in the spree, state police said Friday.
State police last week charged two 17-year-olds in connection with the vandalism. Both face one count of third-degree criminal mischief, a felony, as well as misdemeanor petit larceny. State police did not name either defendant.
One of the 17-year-olds, however, faces an added felony of first-degree aggravated harassment. A state police release issued about the arrests on Thursday did not describe the allegations related to the aggravated harassment charge.
But state police Friday detailed those allegations to The Daily Gazette.
"The Aggravated Harassment 1st charge is based on the content of the graffiti that was located at the scene," state police spokeswoman Trooper Kerra Burns wrote. "A swastika was among other obscene images that were spray painted. This was not charged as a hate related incident because [the] investigation found that there was no specific target."
State statute allows the placement of a swastika on property owned by another person without permission of the owner to be prosecuted as a felony.
The Nature Conservancy, the non-profit organization that owns the wooded preserve known for its hiking trails and centerpiece waterfall, said earlier that while it was dismayed by the extent of damage, it was heartened by the community's response.
Paul Gallery, stewardship coordinator for the Nature Conservancy’s Capital Region-Hudson Valley region, described the situation in June as “more intense than run-of-the-mill vandalism.”
Gallery said the vandalism included a lockbox being broken open and the trail counter inside stolen; the lean-to in the gorge was spray-painted and had holes punched in its roof by rocks pitched off the cliff above.
The preserve off Schoharie Turnpike started in 1970 with the donation of 97 acres by Lansing and Lucille Christman. It survived an early proposal that would have routed Interstate 88 through the site. It has since been expanded to 120 acres, with about two miles of trails.
A highlight is the little gorge where the Bozenkill flows over a 30-foot waterfall that is serene or roaring, depending on the recent weather and the season. The Christman Sanctuary's gorge walls, tree canopy and water reduce the sense of the world beyond.