Families Rip Plea by Sex-rap Rabbi

by Scott Shifrel (NY Daily News)
April 18, 2008

The families of two boys allegedly molested by a Brooklyn rabbi are upset at a deal that allowed the clergyman to plead guilty to a misdemeanor with no jail time.

Rabbi Joel Kolko, 62, was facing felony child sex abuse charges and should have never been allowed to plead out to child endangerment on Monday, one parent told the Daily News yesterday.

"I'm very disappointed. I feel justice was not served," said the father, whose story first appeared on the Jewish Week Web site. "You have no idea how much pain this guy caused us. And this SOB walks away a free man."

Kolko, who taught first-graders for years at the Yeshiva Torah Teminah in Flatbush, was charged in 2006 with sexually abusing three children.

The families approved the deal, but they say prosecutors talked them into it and they regret it, Jewish Week reported.

"They said it would be better this way," the father told the Daily News. "The whole thing is just a smack in the face. ... It's a joke."

The case started falling apart when prosecutors learned the oldest victim had lied on an unrelated matter, law enforcement sources said. Also, the children would have had to testify in court, not on video, said Jerry Schmetterer, spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney.

"This plea deal is a measure of justice," said Schmetterer. "Looking at what we had to present in court, this was the deal we needed to work out."

Kolko, who is still facing a civil suit from the alleged victims and from three others, has maintained his innocence, defense lawyer Jeffrey Schwartz said.

"It was an irresponsible investigation," he said. "These prosecutors just didn't think it through, and they didn't investigate it properly."