Thursday, August 4, 2016

Child molester sues Rockland Rabbi Yakov Horowitz over tweets

lohud    A child molester who moved from New York to Israel as he was being sought on a new misdemeanor assault charge has turned to the Israeli court system to quiet a Rockland County rabbi intent on spreading the word about his crimes on the internet and in Jerusalem.[...]

Horowitz was visiting Jerusalem to teach a child-safety class in Weinberg's neighborhood, Har Nof. The order would have prevented the rabbi from lecturing there because the community center where he was teaching is within a third of a mile of Weinberg's home.

The bid for the protection order followed Weinberg's filing a defamation lawsuit against the rabbi, who put out tweets warning Weinberg's neighbors in Israel of his presence. The lawsuit remains pending.

Horowitz told The Journal News/lohud that he won't be intimidated by Weinberg, who used his position as a bar mitzvah tutor to gain access to his victims, who were 12 and 13. He also sees the fight as part of a larger effort designed to thwart others from exposing sex offenders and warning potential victims of the danger. The Israeli legal maneuverings are key to this tactic, he said.[...]

Just hours after having to appear in court Tuesday to fight the petition for the restraining order, Horowitz taught his child-safety class to 200 people, as planned. Weinberg had unsuccessfully argued that Horowitz would incite community violence against him and his family, the rabbi said.

The Journal News/lohud is highlighting the case as it conducts a broader investigation into incidents of child sexual abuse in the Lower Hudson Valley.

For Weinberg to imply Horowitz would incite violence, "is outrageous," Horowitz said, speaking to a reporter Monday from Israel, dismissing the latest court filing as "just another way of him trying to intimidate me."

Samuel Karliner, a lawyer for Weinberg in Brooklyn who helped him comply with sex-offender registry requirements while he was in the United States, said Weinberg was fed up with Horowitz, who has been disrupting his life.

"He didn't bring this suit as an aggressor," Karliner said. "He brought this suit to stop things from happening." [....]

"How can you slander a sex offender?" asked Horowitz, founder and director of the Center for Jewish Family Life/Project Y.E.S. (Youth Enrichment Services), a mentorship program for at-risk teens. "If somebody is out there (molesting) children, how do you ruin his reputation?"

A $55,000 default judgment was issued against Horowitz in June 2015 after he didn't show up in court, unaware he was being sued, he said. The judgment was removed, he said, but the case is pending, set to go to trial in November.

In Israel, a plaintiff can win a defamation suit by showing that negative things have been said or written about him but, unlike in the United States, he does not have to prove his reputation, livelihood or social standing have been harmed, according to legal experts.[...]

"In the event he returns to New York, he will be charged," Brooklyn District Attorney's Office spokesman Oren Yaniv told The Journal News/lohud.

Since Horowitz has been writing about Weinberg, two men have come forward with complaints, alleging Weinberg acted inappropriately around them when they were children. [...]

Karliner said Weinberg wasn't fleeing from law enforcement.

"My client left the United States with consent and knowledge of the New York City Police Department, with the Israeli government knowing that he was coming, with the Israeli government knowing his background," he said.

Horowitz, who faces thousands of dollars in legal fees, in addition to the threat of a judgement against him, pledged to continue his defense in order to protect families who have a right to know a predator is in their midst.

"I will fight to the end," he said.

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