By Oren Yaniv (NY Daily News)
June 26, 2012
A Brooklyn rabbi who was once accused of molesting a young student beat another rap Tuesday when he was cleared of staring down the boy despite an order of protection.
Jurors deliberated for a mere eight minutes before finding Joel Kolko, 66, not guilty of contempt of court. The first-grade yeshiva teacher was arrested in 2006 for allegedly sexually abusing the then 7-year-old boy. But two years later Kolko ended up taking a plea to child endangerment — a deal that enraged the alleged victim's family.
In 2010, Kolko twice crossed paths with the boy and his father as they walked to shul, allegedly leering at them in violation of the stay-away order. But the defense noted the incidents took place right outside the rabbi's Midwood home, claiming he was entrapped.
"Really, there was no evidence to support anything," defense attorney Jeffrey Schwartz said after the verdict in Brooklyn Criminal Court. "It was the cat trying to be the mouse." Jurors were never told about the old case, which led to the order of protection. Ben Hirsch, an advocate for abuse victims, conceded that prosecutors trying the contempt case "were given a very difficult task."
But he argued the defeat could have been avoided if District Attorney Charles Hynes had not given Kolko the no-jail deal in 2008 instead of going to trial.
"It's tragic," he said. "(Back then) he would have achieved an almost guaranteed guilty verdict."