Midwood, NY – Former Yeshiva Principal, Sons Charged With Incest Abuse

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    Midwood, NY – An Orthodox rabbi and three of his sons are suspected of sexually abusing at least four female relatives after the rabbi’s eldest victim — his daughter — confided in a co-worker at a Jewish school, police said Friday.

    The 58-year-old father and his 21-year-old son fled to Israel two days ago and are wanted for questioning in the case, police said. They were apparently driven to the airport by the mother.

    Two other sons, a 24-year-old and a 15-year-old, were arrested on sexual abuse and rape charges. It was unclear whether they had attorneys, and a message left at the home wasn’t immediately returned.

    The suspects’ names are being withheld by The Associated Press to avoid identification of victims.

    Police say the abuse came to light after the oldest victim, now 20, who worked as a teacher’s aide at a Jewish school in Brooklyn, told a teacher there she had been abused. Authorities believe she was assaulted by her father repeatedly for 15 years. The other victims range in age from 8 to 19, and investigators believe the abuse was also repeated.

    Police say the father is suspected of abusing at least two of his daughters. The brothers were accused of rape and other crimes for abusing their sisters. The youngest suspect was accused of sexually assaulting the 8-year-old.

    “This family … has been engaged in a horrific pattern of sexual abuse,” said Assistant District Attorney John Holmes.

    The family lived in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Midwood in a two-story frame house and the father and mother, who are first cousins, had 14 children, police said. All but two live in the home.

    The 24-year-old suspect was married and lived elsewhere, as did the oldest child. There are seven girls and seven boys in the family.

    New York Police Department chief department spokesman Paul Browne said the investigation was ongoing and it’s possible there could be additional victims. The father and son, who is legally blind, left for Israel from Kennedy International Airport on Nov. 29, Browne said. An NYPD detective assigned as a liaison in Jerusalem will assist officers there in the search, Browne said.

    The father was a former head of Yeshiva Tehila L’Dovid until about three months ago, when he resigned for unknown reasons. There was no answer at the school Friday; police would not say if it was the same school where the oldest victim worked.

    State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, whose districts include many of the ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods, discussed sexual abuse among members of the insular world of ultra-Orthodox Jews on a radio show in 2008, prompting dozens of listeners to come forward with stories of abuse. Critics have said sex abuse claims are sometimes handled quietly in Orthodox rabbinical courts, rather than being reported to authorities.

    As a result, the state earmarked about $1 million to fund Hikind’s plans to teach Hasidic Jews to speak up against child molestation. Prosecutors, counsellors and religious leaders in Brooklyn banded together last year to form a program to combat sexual abuse in the community. A hot line was established where victims can call and speak with a “culturally sensitive” social worker.

    As the manhunt continued for the Brooklyn rabbi, one of his sons was charged with a series of sickening attacks — and ordered to stay away from his underage victims.

    The 24-year-old son posted $10,000 bail and left Brooklyn Criminal Court Saturday afternoon after he was arraigned on charges of sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

    He was dressed in traditional Orthodox garb, made eye contact with the judge and simply uttered “Yes” when asked if he understood the charges — which are both misdemeanors — and the restraining order. He was instructed to not contact his 13- and 16-year-old victims and his passport was taken in an attempt to prevent him from fleeing the country.

    He refused to speak with reporters outside the courtroom.


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