Bronx, NY - Riverdale Rabbi Maintains His Innocence As Bronx DA Looks Into Complaints
Bronx, NY - Just over two weeks after the New York Times ran an article alleging that a Riverdale rabbi may have engaged in inappropriate behavior with boys, young men and rabbinic interns in his congregation, the Bronx district attorney’s office has confirmed that they are investigating several complaints and are asking any possible victims to come forward.
Terry Raskyn, director of public information for the Bronx County’s Office of the District Attorney, told VIN News that complaints against Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt are currently being investigated. Assistant District Attorney Jill Starishevsky, who has been prosecuting sexual offenders for over a dozen years and author of My Body Belongs to Me, a children’s book that encourages child victims of sexual abuse to speak out instead of suffering in silence, has been assigned to the investigation.
According to the New York Times story, Rabbi Rosenblatt is accused of inviting boys as young as twelve to play squash or racquetball with him. The games, which took place in the late 1980’s, were followed by joint showers and soul searching conversations about life and faith in the sauna, and often conducted in the nude.
The earliest complaint against Rabbi Rosenblatt surfaced last fall appeared on a Jewish chat group with approximately 500 members, turning up at least six more individuals who described similar experiences. While no allegations of sexual misconduct have turned up, complainants are alleging that Rabbi Rosenblatt stared at them while they were undressed, or repeatedly placed his hand on their legs.
Raskyn could not confirm if the investigation was launched in response to the New York Times story or was the result of complaints against Rabbi Rosenblatt but urged any other potential victims to contact the district attorney’s office.
“Anyone who needs assistance should contact us,” Raskyn told VIN News. “We have crime victims’ assistance units that will provide service to all victims, even those that are no longer within the statute of limitations.”
Raskyn declined to say how many complaints have currently been received or what possible charges are being considered against Rabbi Rosenblatt.
The Jewish Week reported one week ago that Rabbi Rosenblatt is expected to step down from his post at the Riverdale Jewish Center in the near future and that the synagogue’s board voted overwhelmingly in favor of negotiating a financial settlement with Rabbi Rosenblatt by a vote of 34 to 8.
In a letter sent to his congregants, Rabbi Rosenblatt, who is currently on a six month sabbatical, apologized if his behavior over the years inadvertently offended anyone.
“I want to assure you however that it was never my intention to cause any harm, not did I ever do anything that was unlawful,” wrote Rabbi Rosenblatt. “If any of you feel that my behavior, even if innocent, was inappropriate, I apologize to those affected.”
Rabbi Rosenblatt’s lawyer, Ben Brafman, said that he doubts that any charges will be brought against his client.
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