Rabbi pleads to endangering welfare of a child, ends sex abuse case

By Steve Lieberman (The Journal News)
July 28, 2015

A Monsey rabbi accused of sexually abusing a 7-year-old boy pleaded guilty Tuesday to a lesser charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

Prosecutors said the agreement met the family's request to spare their son from having to testify in public.

Rabbi Gabriel Bodenheimer, 72, principal of Yeshiva Bais Mikroh for decades, faces three years probation when sentenced Oct. 27 on the misdemeanor count. As part of the agreement, the rabbi is barred from teaching or entering any school. He will also be subject to typical restrictions imposed on sex offenders.

Rockland County Court Judge Rolf Thorsen accepted the rabbi's plea.

Prosecutor Richard Kennison Moran told Thorsen the case was being resolved at the request of the victim's family, who told Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe they wanted the boy to move forward with his therapy and life.

"The victim is extremely strong mentally," Moran said. "I believe he would be able to testify before this court. The family wants to spare their son the ordeal of testifying. I respect his family's wishes."

The boy's grandfather said Bodenheimer's guilty plea speaks volumes.

"The fact he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge tells you what the crime was," he said after court. "It tells you he is a predator and a bum. He took away a child's innocence that can never be given back."

Bodenheimer had earlier rejected a plea agreement that would have resulted in state prison time. He had maintained he never touched the boy.

A grand jury charged the rabbi last year with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual act and one count of first-degree sex abuse. The charges covered oral and anal sex with a child and carried a maximum of 25 years in prison.

The boy, now, 12, was 7 when Bodenheimer allegedly abused him at his school office between Aug. 1, 2009 and July 31, 2010. The boy and his mother filed a complaint in December 2013 with the Ramapo police.

Bodenheimer, who lives at 3 Dunhill Lane, said little Tuesday, standing with his lawyer, Avi Moskowitz. He admitted to knowing the boy and taking actions that endangered the child's welfare. He is prohibited from going near the boy in the future.

Bodenheimer, who has 14 children and 100 grandchildren, has led the Bais Mikroh on Viola Road for decades, educating thousands of Orthodox Jewish boys. He has been active recently in the push to change the state education aid formula to bring more aid to the East Ramapo School District and to the private schools that many of its young residents attend.