State Police: Abuse Allegations At Orthodox Camp Unfounded; Offender Arrested For Trespassing

By Allison C. Witty (Vos Iz Neias)
August 16, 2012

State police have arrested and charged 31-year-old Yoel Oberlander of Monsey, a registered sex offender, with trespassing on the Camp Shalva premises in South Fallsburg in the early morning hours of August 8. He is in custody in the Sullivan County jail and is being held on $5,500 bail.

The New York Post reports (http://bit.ly/R5Rhs5) that State Police Capt. Joseph Tripodo said Oberlander “knowingly entered and unlawfully remained in the bunk, the sleeping quarters of the boys.” Security cameras captured Oberlander creeping into the buildings which housed the sleeping campers, but despite earlier allegations of child molestation, Capt. Tripodo said an investigation revealed “no allegation of sexual abuse.”

Oberlander was employed as a truck driver for Golden Taste, a kosher-food business. In 2002, he was convicted of sexually abusing an 11-year-old Rockland County girl. Camp Shalva authorities purportedly waited an estimated 35 hours before they contacted a criminal attorney who advised them to call the police.

The attorney for Camp Shalva, E. David Scharf, said surveillance video showed Oberlander in the halls “going in and out of the sleeping quarters with not enough time to commit an act of molestation.” In an interview with VIN News, Scharf added, “Once we got back information that the person involved was allegedly a level two sex offender out of Rockland County, the camp made the determination that an internal camp investigation was no longer sufficient and they contacted law enforcement.”

The police were first notified about the incident by Survivors for Justice, a group that advocates for victims of sexual abuse. Survivors for Justice said they received word that the male campers had been molested by a trespasser, but that campers were instructed not to contact their parents.

“An immediate report would have protected kids in other camps where this driver was making deliveries that day and the next,” remarked Survivors for Justice Spokesman Ben Hirsch. “We hope the children were not pressured into changing their stories.”