By Robert Gavin (Times Union)
January 11, 2010
ALBANY -- A Colonie rabbi admitted in court today he had "inappropriate physical contact" with two naked boys and tried to convince one of the boys to keep silent.
Yaakov Weiss, founder of the Chabad of Colonie and the Chabad Hebrew School, pleaded guilty to child endangerment during an appearance in front of Albany County Judge Stephen Herrick.
He faces up to 60 days in jail and three years probation as part of a plea bargain reached with the district attorney's office. His sentencing his schedule for March 1.
Under questioning by the judge, Weiss admitted he had the inappropriate contact with the boy. He also told the court he told one of the boys to lie about the contact if asked by parents or police.
Weiss, 29, sent an e-mail to the Times Union in October 2008, after being charged, calling the charges "100 percent untrue."
"This has been generated by an individual who has been antagonistic toward Chabad of Colonie from its inception and continues to be envious of continued success," Weiss wrote at the time. "This is his way of getting rid of us."
Weiss moved to the Capital Region from Iowa in 2004. He adheres to a branch of Judaism known as Chabad-Lubavitch, which is known for its work to get Jews more involved in their religion.
Weiss was initially charged in City Court two years ago with sexually abusing the two 13-year-olds in 2007. When he was indicted and arraigned over the summer, Weiss was accused of those charges, as well as allegations he tried to convince one of the boys to lie.
"Just say nothing happened," Weiss told the child on June 30 on Sycamore Street in Albany, the indictment said.
The indictment alleged that sometime between Jan. 1 and April 30, 2007, Weiss repeatedly struck one of the boys on the back on New Scotland Avenue, "knocking him to the ground and then kicked him in the leg."
The court papers say Weiss sexually abused one of the boys in June 2007 and the other between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 of that year. The incidents allegedly took place in a facility at 340 Whitehall Road in Albany.
In both cases, the indictment alleged that Weiss had sexual contact "consisting of placing his penis in contact with said child's buttocks." The incidents allegedly took place inside a pool, called a mikveh, used by some Jews for ritual purification, according to his attorney.
The indictment said one of the boys sought advice from Weiss, his teacher and spiritual leader, on Sycamore Street on June 30 that year.
Weiss "instructed the child to be untruthful" and to "not tell his mother or the police about an incident where the defendant subjected the victim to sexual contact."