YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Cliffside Park man was sentenced to 28 years in prison today for raping two pre-teen sisters after breaking into their home in a horrifying early-morning attack.
Serkan Seyrek must serve 23 years, nine months and 22 days before he will be eligible for parole, under a plea agreement with prosecutors.
There’s little chance of a civil commitment once Seyrek, 22, is released: Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi said experts at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel didn’t find him to be a compulsive, repetitive offender.
“There is no excuse, no defense,” Seyrek told the judge today. “I know what I put the victims and their families through.
“I should have known better, slow down, control yourself – but I didn’t.
“I also apologize to my family,” he added. “I’m sorry for what I have put them through emotionally and financially.”
Defense attorney Sabby Grant claimed her client is a “good person who made a very big mistake,” and attributed his actions to youth and alcohol, saying he “had the brain of an adolescent.”
The tearful mother then told the judge that she agreed to a 28-year sentence because “I don’t want to put my daughters through a trial” and bring back all the memories.
“When they found out out he lived only a block and a half away, they were terrified,” she said.
Constant talk about the attacks by her daughters’ classmates forced her to enroll them in different schools, the grieving mother said.
“They don’t want to see anyone,” she said. “They don’t want to walk on the streets because they are afraid.
“I can’t put the pain into words.”
She also said Seyrek “deserves every day of the 28 years…. I am here to tell you he has to pay for what he did, however old he is. He is old enough to pay for what he did.”
Seyrek pleaded guilty to the crimes in November after first insisting that police got the wrong man.
He described in horrifying detail the early-morning Feb, 2012 attacks that put the East Bergen community atop the Palisades on edge for seven months before he was caught.
Seyrek said he attacked the 9-year-old girl first, threatening to kill her if “she told anyone or made any sound.” He said he then ran to her 11-year-old sister’s bedroom and assaulted her the same way before the girls’ mother woke up, discovered what was happening and fought him off.
A passing motorist heard the woman’s screams and ran after him. Others on Washington Avenue, seeing what was happening, joined in.
The attacker headed west, turned south on Grove Street and then bolted into a backyard at the corner of Lincoln Avenue before vanishing.
Seyrek, who lived around the corner from the victims, left fingerprints on doorknobs in the house — and on others he tried in the neighborhood — as well as blood on the girls’ bedsheets, authorities said.
The blood came from cuts he sustained earlier that morning when he pulled a knife on his mother and the two struggled over it, his lawyer explained.
Seyrek said he heard helicopters after he returned home hours after the attacks, indicating that police were looking for him. Although his mother wanted to take him to the hospital for treatment of his cuts, he said he refused because he believed it would implicate him in the rapes.
An extensive manhunt ended in his Sept. 7, 2012 arrest.
Detectives were aided by a necklace he was wearing that the girl’s mother broke as she pulled Seyrek off her daughter. A piece of it was found inside the house and another near a fence that he jumped as he fled.
Authorities released images of the string-type necklace during the manhunt. It had an attached piece of circular black colored cloth with “serv_n” engraved on it. The second-to-last letter was missing.
Seyrek then became a “person of interest” after Cliffside Park police arrested him for breaking into the Elks Club on Anderson Avenue and stealing a bottle of cognac.
Keane credited Detective Sgt. Sean MacKay with obtaining enough information in an interview with Seyrek for authorities to bring the charges.
McKay told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that Seyrek “was very anxious, more than for the crime he was accused of would warrant.”
Suddenly, the sergeant said, Seyrek asked him whether anyone had been arrested in the assaults. McKay took his fingerprints and kept in contact with Seyrek until authorities could draw up an arrest warrant.
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Catherine Fantuzzi said Seyrek traveled to Turkey after the assaults and planned to return if he wasn’t arrested.
Ahmet Seyrek ( photo below ) begged for leniency during today’s sentencing, telling DeAvila-Silebi that his son was 2 when he was diagnosed with cancer and later lost an eye in surgery. A prosthetic eye made him a target for bullies, his father said.
“I told him, ‘You are strong. Show them’,” the elder Seyrek said.
He said his son later coached soccer and helped younger relatives learn English.
In addition to his prison sentence sentence, he must serve five years of probation and will be registered as a sex offender for life under Megan’s Law.
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
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