Contempt Trial Starts for Brooklyn Rabbi

By Oren Yaniv (NY Daily News)
June 20, 2012

Two encounters between a 12-year-old walking to shul and his one-time yeshiva teacher are the subject of a criminal contempt trial that kicked off Wednesday.

While cases involving violations of an order of protection rarely go to trial, this one did and has gained widespread attention.

That's because the defendant is a rabbi who was once accused of molesting the boy, and Brooklyn prosecutors have taken heat on the issue of sex abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community in recent months.

The kid and his dad say Joel Kolko, 65, glared at the child on two occasions in November 2010 despite a stay-away order.

Kolko was charged in 2006 with sexually abusing the boy. He took a deal two years later, pleading guilty to child endangerment. He got no jail time but was ordered to stay away from the child.

A few months after the boy's family moved two blocks away from Kolko's Midwood home, the two crossed paths on the way to Sabbath services. The following Friday, they encountered the rabbi again, prosecutors say.

But defense lawyer Jeffrey Schwartz says that earlier that day, Kolko's wife saw the boy's father looking in their mailbox, "scoping him out . . . trying to find out where he lives."