by Steve Lieberman and Shawn Cohen (The Journal News)
January 17, 2014
RAMAPO — The 55-year-old brother of a convicted sex offender from New Square was arrested Friday on accusations he molested a young boy repeatedly over five years, police said.
Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld, 55, an educator like his younger brother Herschel, and the father of 20 children, was charged with a felony for alleged sexual abuse starting Sept. 11, 2001, when the preteen boy came to him seeking comfort after the terrorist attacks.
“I went to his house and he told me ‘I’ll give you love, I care about you,’ ” the alleged victim, Laiby, recalled Friday to The Journal News. He said Taubenfeld, a family friend, molested him that day and dozens of other times until he turned 13 in 2006. “I was scared and I trusted him completely, unfortunately. I was a naive child and didn’t know what he was doing was wrong.”
Laiby said he and his family reported the alleged abuse about six years ago to New Square’s Grand Rabbi David Twersky and other community leaders, who discouraged him from going to police.
“My mother, my brother and I told him (Twersky) what was happening to me,” said Laiby, who asked that his last name not be used. “He let him (Taubenfeld) walk free.”
Twersky has not responded to requests for comment.
Laiby’s alleged problems were similar to those of other New Square abuse victims, including a young man, Yossi, who reported Taubenfeld’s brother to police in 2011. Yossi was profiled earlier this month by The Journal News.
Laiby, who is 20, went to police in July.
“The community protected him,” Laiby said. “Since New Square did not want to deal with this, I went to police. I need to feel a closure.”
Taubenfeld, also known as Mendel Zarkowsky, was charged with second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child.
“The guy was hard to track down because he had two different names,” Ramapo Detective Lt. Mark Emma said.
Taubenfeld was released on $25,000 bail Friday for an appearance scheduled for Jan. 27 in New Square Village Court.
Defense attorney Gerard Damiani said Taubenfeld denies the charges.
Damiani said the police complaint should be dismissed because it said Detective Peg Braddock had personal knowledge of the accusations. Damiani said the detective was not a witness and the charges came from the accuser.
Taubenfeld faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
“It’s a step closer to getting justice,” Laiby said of the arrest. “I’m hoping this pervert who did this to me will get his time in prison.”
Moshe Taubenfeld’s brother Herschel Taubenfeld avoided jail last year when he admitted to sexually molesting Yossi.
Herschel Taubenfeld pleaded guilty to one count of forcible touching, received six years probation and had to register as a sex offender.
Yossi publicly criticized the non-jail sentence. He and another alleged victim, Yehuda, and their advocates have accused the New Square leadership of looking the other way when it comes to sexual abuse.
They argue that New Square and other Hasidic Jewish communities have created a culture where sex abuse rarely gets reported. Those who report abuse are ostracized, they say.
The Taubenfelds are the second pair of Ramapo brothers accused of sexually abusing children. Monsey residents Shmuel Dym, 34, and his younger brother Betzalel Dym are both registered as Level 2 sex offenders.
Dr. Alan Tuckman, Rockland’s former forensic psychiatrist, said having siblings involved in sex abuse is rare, but could result from abusive upbringings.
“If they were sexually abused or demeaned as children there is a higher likelihood they would become sexual abusers,” Tuckman said, but added, “The overwhelming majority of children sexually abused do not become sex offenders.”