Brooklyn Rabbi Charged with Molesting Boys

by Kilian Melloy (Edge Boston)
March 8, 2010

A Brooklyn rabbi is on trial for allegedly sexually assaulting boys.

A March 3 New York Daily News article said that one of the witnesses in the trial of Rabbi Baruch Lebovits claimed that he had been repeatedly molested by the rabbi in 2004 and 2005, when the witness was in his teens. The man is now in treatment for drug addiction, the article said, a fact that the defense seized upon, calling him a "con man" who was looking for money.

Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory asked the witness, who is now 22, how the alleged episodes of sexual abuse affected him. The witness testified that they left him "Very uncomfortable and confused." The witness is one of three men who say that Lebovits molested them.

A fourth man committed suicide after reportedly claiming that he, too, had been victimized by Lebovits, according to a Jan. 17 article at the website Failed Messiah. 24-year-old Motty Borger was on his honeymoon when he leapt to his death from the seventh story of a hotel. The newly married man had recently told his new bride of the alleged abuse.

The close-knit Hasidic community, to which the witness used to belong, has for years been reluctant to allow outsiders--including the law--to intervene in what they consider to be their own internal affairs. The Failed Messiah story quoted a source as saying that the community knew about the rabbi's alleged molestation of boys for some time, calling it "an open secret."

When asked why he waited for years to come forward, the witness said, "It's a shame to talk about it [among the Hasidic community] and I have low self-esteem," the New York Daily News reported.

An Orthodox sex offender who left Brooklyn and went to Israel in 1985 after being charged with molesting boys could not be extradited back to America for decades because no agreement existed between the two nations for extradition in cases of such crimes, reported The JC.com last Jan. 28. When a legal agreement was established in 2007 for such extradition, the offender, Abraham Mondrowitz, was placed under arrest by Israeli authorities, but was detained in that country because child pornography was found in his home. The Israel Supreme Court has declined a request for his extradition to proceed.

A March 4 posting at the Catholic League web site complained that though the story of the rabbi's trial has been covered in the media, it is not front-page news. "The New York Post and the New York Daily News reported this story on pages 28 and 18, respectively," the posting read. "The scandal-loving tabloids have frequently featured front-page stories when the alleged perpetrator was a Catholic priest. Funny how an accused rabbi does not merit the same treatment."