New York - Convicted Child Molester Sues Monsey Rabbi For Slander
New York - A Monsey rabbi who has long been an outspoken voice in the battle against sexual abuse is finding himself facing another fight after being sued by a convicted child molester for defamation.
According to a report in Yediot Acharonot, Yona Weinberg, who moved to Jerusalem last year, won a summary judgment against Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, director of Project Y.E.S., for using Twitter to warn Har Nof residents that their new neighbor was a registered level three sexual offender and a convicted pedophile who presented a clear and present danger to their children.
As previously reported on VIN News, Weinberg, a former Flatbush social worker and a bar mitzvah tutor, was convicted of sexually abusing two boys, ages 12 and 13, in 2009 and sentenced to 13 months in prison.
In the lawsuit, Weinberg claimed that Rabbi Horowitz’s warnings created tremendous difficulties for him, both with his neighbors and with his children’s schools. Weinberg’s attorney, Eitan Lehmann told Yediot Acharonot that the suit is unrelated to his previous conviction.
“The issue at hand is that Rabbi Horowitz lied when he claims that my client fled the United States or that there are new charges being brought against him, which are harmful lies,” said Lehmann.
VIN News reached out to Rabbi Horowitz, who declined to comment on the ongoing case, but according to a Daily News report, police went to Weinberg’s home last January to arrest him for assaulting an 11 year old Brooklyn boy last January, only to discover that Weinberg had moved to Israel.
Because the assault charge is only a misdemeanor, Weinberg will not be extradited from Israel but a spokesperson at Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s office said that Weinberg will face charges if he ever returns to New York.
An email sent by Rabbi Horowitz on Friday said he was served with papers at his Monsey home this past June informing him that an Israeli court had issued a summary judgment against him, obligating him to pay Weinberg 200,000 NIS ($55,000 USD) plus court costs for publicly slandering him.
Rabbi Horowitz added that his lawyer had the judgment set aside, but that he is still facing potential legal action and hefty fines, a prospect that he described as a campaign of “use/abuse of power, manipulation and intimidation.”
The notion that a convicted child molester could successfully strike back against those who call him out for his actions was particularly disturbing to Rabbi Horowitz, who mused that the specter of potential lawsuits could potentially prevent abuse victims from coming forward.
“If Weinberg is picking a public fight with a balding 56 year old who has a public voice, media access and a history of advocacy, just imagine what he might do/have done to the frightened single mother who pressed charges against him in the first place,” wrote Rabbi Horowitz.
Rabbi Horowitz described Weinberg’s case against him as “jaw-dropping.”
“The idea that an Israel court didn’t dismiss the charges is inexplicable to me,” Rabbi Horowitz told Yediot Acharonot. “I made the public aware of information that the United States government felt is appropriate to publicize.”
“Unfortunately, the Israeli government has seen fit to take in a dangerous sexual offender who has the gall to sue someone for warning the public of the danger that he presents,” added Rabbi Horowitz’s attorney, Yitzchak Baum.
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