In the case of Atlantic City's firehouse sex scandal, can we stop talking jail - and start talking suspension and termination?

Can we stop talking race - and start talking about unethical, repulsive behavior on city time and property?

Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel has put the ball squarely back into the city's court. And it sounds like that's exactly where it should be.

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Housel said there is no basis for criminal charges in an alleged sexual incident between on-duty firefighters and three young black women inside an Atlantic City firehouse. The allegations are that a firefighter had one of the teenagers touch his genitals, then sexually gratified himself in front of all three women, with four other firefighters present.

Housel said the 16-year-old women were of a legal age of consent, there was no evidence of forced sexual activity and the incident does not fit the criminal charge of "official misconduct" - which involves an unauthorized exercise of a public employee's "official functions."

The law is the law. Mayor Lorenzo Langford, who said he disagrees with Housel, and the Rev. Al Sharpton- who has held rallies calling for criminal charges - may wish it were otherwise. But what these firefighters allegedly did was apparently not criminal.

That doesn't mean it wasn't terribly wrong. It doesn't mean it isn't a matter for civil court. And it sure doesn't mean the city shouldn't pursue the hell out of this and maybe fire these guys.

Langford has restarted the city's investigation. How long can that investigation take? This has been going on for ages. The city should get this wrapped up and take action.

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