By Steve Lieberman (The Journal News)
June 21, 2014
A 55-year-old New Square educator, the father of 20 children and brother of a sex offender, has been indicted on charges of sexually abusing a pre-teen boy from 2001 to 2006.
Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld faces a charge of second-degree course of sexual conduct, a felony count covering a variety of sexual acts over a period of time. The count carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years.
The indictment accuses Taubenfeld of sexually abusing the boy, who was under age 13 at the time, on multiple occasions between September 2001 and May 2006, District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said Friday.
While prosecutors declined to identify the young man, the reported victim spoke with The Journal News before Taubenfeld's arrest in January by Ramapo police.
The boy, Laiby, said the abuse started Sept. 11, 2001, when he went to Taubenfeld seeking comfort after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, police said. The abuse allegedly continued until he turned 13 in 2006.
Laiby said he and his family reported the abuse about six years ago to New Square community religious leaders, who discouraged him from going to police.
His report echoed accounts of other New Square abuse victims, including a young man, Yossi, who had reported Taubenfeld's brother, Herschel, to police in 2011. Herschel Taubenfeld pleaded guilty last year to one count of misdemeanor forcible touching, received six years probation and had to register as a sex offender.
In a January investigative report by The Journal News, Yossi and another accuser, Yehuda, described the indifference of New Square Hasidic Jewish leaders to children being sexually abused and said the leaders have created a culture in which victims are discouraged from going to police and abusers are protected.
Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld's lawyer, Gerard Damiani, said his client denies the charges.
Zugibe said the sexual contact involving Laiby took place in Taubenfeld's home, starting on a monthly basis before becoming weekly and then almost daily.
"The victim was a young child when the defendant first began subjecting him to what would become a five-year nightmare of sexual abuse," Zugibe said. "His depraved actions changed the victim's life forever by robbing him of his innocence. Such alleged conduct can not go unpunished."
Taubenfeld has been released pending a future court date.