By Steve Lieberman (lohud.com)
January 30, 2013
NEW SQUARE — A teacher has been classified as a low-level sex offender based upon his recent conviction for forcibly touching a young boy.
Herschel Taubenfeld pleaded guilty earlier this month to the misdemeanor charge as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors in New Square Justice Court. The agreement spared the child from having to testify.
Ramapo police originally charged Taubenfeld in 2011 with 30 misdemeanors – 10 counts each of forcible touching, endangering the welfare of a child, and third-degree sexual abuse.
On Monday night, Taubenfield underwent a classification hearing before Justice Stewart Salles, the longtime elected judge for the Skver Hasidic Jewish community in New Square.
Taubenfeld, who lives at 92 N. Garfield Drive in New Square, was classified as a level 1 offender, based on a total score that takes in his criminal history, the crime, and other aspects of his life.
A level 1 determination means he’s a low risk to repeat his offense, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services website. As a Level 1, his name will not appear on public data-bases of sex offender or police notification of the community.
A Level 2 is a moderate risk while a Level 3 classification means the person is a high risk and a threat to the public safety.
Those sex offenders can be found on the state sex registry and their address and personal information is made available by the police to public and private agencies, like schools, libraries, and day-care centers.
For advocates of children who’ve been sexually assaulted, Taubenfeld’s also was the first sexual abuse case prosecuted in the New Square community, said Rabbi Noson Leiter, the founder of Help Rescue Our Children, an Orthodox Jewish children’s advocacy group. Leiter also heads Torah Jews for Decency in Monsey.
Leiter and other advocates have claimed some community leaders keep the lid on sexual abuse and other crimes, pressuring families and survivors to steer clear of reporting abuse to police and testifying in court.
Leiter said that despite the lack of jail time in the Taubenfeld case, “this case sends a message that sometimes a strong victim can actually force a plea with incarceration.”
Leiter said Taubenfeld's admission to molestation charges confirms that current New Square leadership clearly failed to stop him.
“Thus, New-Square families need the leadership and assistance of those outside of Square to protect their innocent children,” he said, “and to raise them in the spirit of holiness, on which the Village of New-Square was originally founded."
“We still have no idea of how many other victims may be suffering in silence,” Leiter said.