By Reuven Blau (NY Daily News)
June 12, 2013
A Brooklyn court on Wednesday awarded $3.5 million to a Jewish gay activist who sued his cousin for allegedly molesting him for several years when he was a boy.
Chaim Levin, now 24, claimed in a Brooklyn Supreme Court lawsuit that he was repeatedly molested by his first cousin Sholom Eichler at a synagogue, at a relative’s home and at an upstate bungalow where the family vacationed.
Levin contended that between 1996 and 1999, he was forced to perform oral sex and was once sodomized with a pen by Eichler, starting when he was 6 years old.
The abuse mostly occurred at Eichler’s home on Eastern Parkway and the synagogue Vishnitz, on Montgomery St. in Crown Heights, according to the suit.
“It was pretty brutal. It was killing me, but I was too afraid to tell anyone,” Levin said.
A court referee ordered Eichler to pay Levin $1 million for pain and suffering and $2.5 million for future pain and suffering due to the repeated assaults, said Levin’s lawyer, David Krangle.
Eichler’s family owns Brooklyn’s largest Judaica store, but it’s unclear whether Levin will ever get the money awarded. The alleged abuser, who did not dispute the charges against him, moved to Israel shortly after the lawsuit was filed.
His lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.
The statute of limitations prohibited Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes from taking action, a spokesman said.
Israeli prosecutors are also looking into allegations that Eichler molested Levin during a family trip to Jerusalem for a relative’s bar mitzvah in 1999, Israeli records show.
In 2004, Levin told a family friend about the abuse. The friend then brought the allegations to the dean of his yeshiva.
“The rabbi said he’d tell my parents, but that he would not disclose who the perpetrator was,” recalled Levin.
Levin welcomed the award, saying he hoped his case would help other victims in the insular Jewish community.
“I get to be the voice for many who don’t have a voice, and that counts for a lot,” he said.