By Tamar El-Ghobashy and Pervaiz Shallwani (Wall Street Journal)
January 31, 2013
The leader of a now-closed yeshiva in Brooklyn charged with sexually assaulting three teenage students from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect denied having any sexual contact with his accusers, a law-enforcement official said Thursday.
Yoel Malik, 33 years old, told detectives he took two of his accusers to motels and spent time there, but denied any sexual contact with them or other boys linked to the case, the official said. He also denied giving the boys cigarettes or alcohol.
Police said Mr. Malik, who was a teacher and part owner of the Yeshiva Ohr-Hamier, was arrested Wednesday and charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse, criminal sexual act, endangering the welfare of a child and forcible touching.
All of the alleged victims had attended the religious school, which police said had been shut down as a result of financial difficulties.
At an arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court Thursday night, Mr. Malik was released on $75,000 bail and was required to surrender his passport. Defense attorney Adam Heyman said Mr. Malik has strong ties to community and a family to support.
The investigation began Sunday when an anonymous caller to a New York Police Department hotline claimed Mr. Malik had molested a 16-year-old boy inside a motel in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood over the course of seven hours, the official said. Investigators retrieved video-surveillance footage from the motel that showed Mr. Malik and the alleged victim entering a room and exiting about seven hours later on Jan. 18, the official said.
The anonymous caller contacted police again and reported additional victims, the official said.
A 16-year-old boy named in that call told police Mr. Malik had taken him to a motel on Shore Parkway. The law-enforcement official said the boy said he had been massaged on his back and neck in an encounter that made him uncomfortable. The second boy also described a previous trip to a motel in Monticello, N.Y., where Mr. Malik had allegedly tried to kiss him.
The official said a third alleged victim, a 15-year-old boy, described three separate incidents in which he had been sexually abused on trips to Monticello and during a car ride home from the yeshiva. That accuser allegedly told investigators he had also witnessed another boy being abused by Mr. Malik in a van about a week after his own alleged incident in the car.
The fourth alleged victim told investigators he had been sexually abused nine times by Mr. Malik, according to the law-enforcement official. Mr. Malik wasn't charged in connection with the fourth boy.
Mr. Malik told investigators he was himself a victim of sexual abuse when he was 12 but declined to provide police with more information, the official said.
In addition to denying any sexual contact with his accusers, he told detectives that one of the alleged victims had made advances toward him, which Mr. Malik had rebuffed.
Mr. Malik and the alleged victims hail from the close-knit Satmar sect centered around Williamsburg in Brooklyn, which maintains its own schools and an informal religious justice system.
Accusations of child-sexual abuse within the community gained wide public attention with the closely watched trial of Nechemya Weberman, a 54-year-old counselor from the community who was convicted in December of repeatedly sexually abusing a young girl. He was sentenced last week to 103 years in prison—a punishment that unsettled even those within the Satmar sect who favor secular prosecutions of sexual-abuse cases. Mr. Weberman's attorneys have said they plan to file an appeal.