By Tara Rosenblum (News 12)
August 29, 2013
NEW SQUARE - A shroud of secrecy surrounds the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of New Square. Many of the residents shun the outside world and keep to themselves.
However, a sex abuse victim from the community has spoken exclusively to News 12.
Yossi, who prefers to use only his first name, says he wants to speak out about his ordeal in the hope that other victims of abuse will come forward.
Yossi claims that Herschel Taubenfeld, a teacher in his community, inappropriately touched him three times a week for four months.
The teen asked for help from the head rabbis of New Square who had just set up their own sex crimes unit called the VAAD. The agency told him to see a therapist.
Two months later, Yossi reported the abuse to the Ramapo police. He says that his friends stopped talking to him and treated him like he didn't exist.
Yossi says his attacker admitted to the crimes, but religious leaders in the community sent Taubenfeld to Israel to obtain his rabbinical ordination. He also says he was offered $100,000 to keep quiet about the situation, which he refused.
In December 2011, one month after Yossi reported the abuse, Taubenfeld turned himself in. He was charged with 30 misdemeanor counts of forcible touching, endangering the welfare of a child and third-degree sex abuse. However, the rabbi avoided jail time in exchange for six years probation.
According to students, Taubenfeld is still teaching at one of New Square’s largest religious schools.