On Trial: Rabbi Accused on Numerous Child Molestation Counts

By Sabrina Jaszi (Gothamist)
March 4, 2010

Today a 22-year-old testified In Brooklyn Supreme Court that he was sexually molested by Borough Park Rabbi Baruch Lebovits. The young man, who's no longer part of the Hasidic community, was dressed in "jeans, white shirt, tie and a yarmulke" and spoke softly, according to the Daily News. "How did you feel?" asked the assistant district attorney. "Very uncomfortable and very confused," he responded.

Lebovits will soon stand trial on charges of sodomizing two others, and has been accused of hundreds more counts of child rape and abuse. Still, his lawyer called the witness a "con man" and warned the jury, "You're going to be sold a bill of goods."

Lebovits's accuser told the court the rabbi had assaulted him multiple times in a car between 2004 and 2005. Since the incident, he said, he's fallen prey to heroin and crack addiction. "It's a shame to talk about it and I have low self-esteem," said the man, who waited to press charges until after leaving the tight-knit religious group. But the defense railed on: "There's no video, there's no eyewitness, no DNA, there's no fingerprints... That evidence doesn't exist because all these acts... didn't happen."

If convicted, Lebovits faces a sentence of up to seven years on charges of criminal sexual acts in the second-degree. Late last year a Hasidic man named Motty Borger committed suicide by jumping from the seventh story of a hotel two days into his honeymoon, having confided to friend that he'd been molested by a prominent rabbi. According to Failed Messiah and the Post, that rabbi was Lebovits.