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Passaic, NJ - New Jersey Jewish Child Therapist Arrested, Charged With Sexual Exploitation

Published on: November 10, 2015 07:59 PM
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(Jewish Family Service & Children's Center of Clifton-Passaic)(Jewish Family Service & Children’s Center of Clifton-Passaic)

Passaic, NJ - The Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that ELLIOT HALBERSTAM was arrested today and charged in a criminal complaint with three counts stemming from his sexual exploitation and enticement of a minor and his receipt of child pornography.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “Elliot Halberstam is charged with violating the trust of his former patient, a 16-year old boy, in the worst way imaginable - he allegedly coerced and tricked the victim into engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and captured it on video and in photographs.  Together with our partners at the FBI, we are dedicated to ensuring that those who sexually exploit children are held to account.” 

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriquez said:  “As alleged, Halberstam violated the trust of a minor who was a former patient of his in counseling, by coercing the victim to engage in sexual activity with him and film it.  The FBI will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who sexually exploit our children.”

        According to the Complaint:

Beginning in March 2015, HALBERSTAM, a child therapist, coerced and enticed a 16-year-old boy who was a former patient of his (“Victim-1”) to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct, and received images and videos constituting child pornography from Victim-1.  To do so, HALBERSTAM groomed Victim-1 through numerous email and text messages, including by posing as another individual to entice Victim-1 to produce and send child pornography to HALBERSTAM and to allow HALBERSTAM to photograph Victim-1. 

HALBERSTAM, 38, of Bergenfield, New Jersey, is charged with one count of coercing and enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison; one count of sexual exploitation of a child, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; and one count of receipt of child pornography, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

There may be more victims of this alleged conduct.  Any individuals who believe they have information concerning ELLIOT HALBERSTAM that may be relevant to the investigation should contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 1-212-384-1000 or https://tips.fbi.gov/.

Halberstam, is listed as an assistant director with Jewish Family Service & Children’s Center of Clifton-Passaic. During a court hearing Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Manhattan, Halberstam was ordered held without bail.


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Read Comments (17)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Nov 11, 2015 at 12:19 AM mother Says:

Again??? Who is going to say this guy is "the nicest person on the block" first? Or because he doesn't have a beard you'll be OK this time?

These people are trusted to HELP our kids, not abuse them and destroy them even more. Hang this creep out to dry - let him get 30 years. Too bad on his family, this is what needs to happen to perverts - they lose everything. If they don't think about what this does to their families, why should we?

2

 Nov 11, 2015 at 09:48 AM Enough Already Says:

If proven true, no Jew of any level of observance should make excuses for this deviant behavior. Sadly if he were part of certain communities, there would be efforts made to hide the problem or worse yet blame the victim (s). Hopefully the full force of the legal system will bring justice for victims.

3

 Nov 11, 2015 at 10:51 AM Realist77 Says:

As a licensed Clinical Social Worker that specializes in treating children and adolescents this type of behavior sickens me. They amount of trauma that is caused takes years to repair. This teenager and his parents trusted this professional. It totally sickens me.

4

 Nov 11, 2015 at 10:56 AM Anonymous Says:

Among our people in New Square and KJ, the kids go to therapy with unlicensed therapists. We'll never know what really happens behind closed doors. And when the kids do discuss what really happens, parents are shunned and have to move.

5

 Nov 11, 2015 at 11:19 AM Realist77 Says:

They go to " Eitza Givers", people that " You can shmooze with". Unfortunately many times the unlicensed "therapist" do more harm than good. They might have the best of intentions but lack the training, and license oversight by a professional board. They do get great " Hechshers" by the local Rabbonim because they know that they will not report to the authorities what needs to be reported ( cases of abuse, neglect, etc..) In NY it is quite easy to find out of the person is licensed. Go to the NY state office of professions. NJ has a licensing board as well that you can verify the license.

6

 Nov 11, 2015 at 11:35 AM zeesh-nj Says:

Reply to #1  
mother Says:

Again??? Who is going to say this guy is "the nicest person on the block" first? Or because he doesn't have a beard you'll be OK this time?

These people are trusted to HELP our kids, not abuse them and destroy them even more. Hang this creep out to dry - let him get 30 years. Too bad on his family, this is what needs to happen to perverts - they lose everything. If they don't think about what this does to their families, why should we?

you're right- i'd have to say this is a shock. he is (was) very well regarded as a therapist and was the go-to-guy to organize projects b/c he's excellent in getting things done. you just never know. reality is often an ugly place. if this is a false accusation, which i wish it were, eli's career and by extension, his life, is toast. so sad. Hashem yaazor the victims.

7

 Nov 11, 2015 at 11:51 AM Geulah Says:

Reply to #5  
Realist77 Says:

They go to " Eitza Givers", people that " You can shmooze with". Unfortunately many times the unlicensed "therapist" do more harm than good. They might have the best of intentions but lack the training, and license oversight by a professional board. They do get great " Hechshers" by the local Rabbonim because they know that they will not report to the authorities what needs to be reported ( cases of abuse, neglect, etc..) In NY it is quite easy to find out of the person is licensed. Go to the NY state office of professions. NJ has a licensing board as well that you can verify the license.

And the license guarantees you no harm?

8

 Nov 11, 2015 at 11:55 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

Among our people in New Square and KJ, the kids go to therapy with unlicensed therapists. We'll never know what really happens behind closed doors. And when the kids do discuss what really happens, parents are shunned and have to move.

Thats the point you think a license verse non licenese matter? Only non licensed people are sickos? I never got the clear difference between licensed and non licenesed in terms of child safety other than their college education.

9

 Nov 11, 2015 at 01:34 PM Realist77 Says:

Licenses guarantee you that the licensee has met the state requirements ( School work, work experience, supervision, passed the exams, and competency) to perform those services under your profession. The licensing board also requires you to have continuing education credits, and they hold you accountable for the services rendered. As with any job, there are those that are dishonest and those that are not competent. As a trained and licensed therapist, you are taught and trained to maintain strict guidelines and boundaries with your patient and the parents.

10

 Nov 11, 2015 at 01:46 PM qazxc Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

Thats the point you think a license verse non licenese matter? Only non licensed people are sickos? I never got the clear difference between licensed and non licenesed in terms of child safety other than their college education.

Training. Testing. Licensing. Regulatory oversight. Accountability.

Capish?

11

 Nov 11, 2015 at 04:19 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

Thats the point you think a license verse non licenese matter? Only non licensed people are sickos? I never got the clear difference between licensed and non licenesed in terms of child safety other than their college education.

" I never got the clear difference between licensed and non licenesed in terms of child safety other than their college education."

At least if they are licensed, we know that they have training. In New Square and KJ, the "therapists" can be shoe salemen, diamond dealers or just parents locked alone in a room with a child. Maybe that's ok for you, but my kids if they ever need help will visit a licensed therapist. Common sense for most of us. Weberman worked in a pants store. That made him a therapist!!!

12

 Nov 12, 2015 at 06:03 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
qazxc Says:

Training. Testing. Licensing. Regulatory oversight. Accountability.

Capish?

No "Capish" I have to take continuing eduaction and I am regulated as well in my field. So what?? Its all nonsense. If one is a sicko it won't help.

13

 Nov 13, 2015 at 09:27 AM Proud Orthodox Jewish Mom Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

Thats the point you think a license verse non licenese matter? Only non licensed people are sickos? I never got the clear difference between licensed and non licenesed in terms of child safety other than their college education.

AMEN AND AMEN!!!!!

14

 Nov 13, 2015 at 08:57 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
mother Says:

Again??? Who is going to say this guy is "the nicest person on the block" first? Or because he doesn't have a beard you'll be OK this time?

These people are trusted to HELP our kids, not abuse them and destroy them even more. Hang this creep out to dry - let him get 30 years. Too bad on his family, this is what needs to happen to perverts - they lose everything. If they don't think about what this does to their families, why should we?

Yes, indeed these people are trusted to work with our children. He worked with my two youngest for five years (I have a rare, catastrophic illness), and he helped us in many ways. I saw him for ten minutes privately before he saw each child privately.

He knew darn well that I was always very on top of what was going on with my children. He always said so. Thank G-d for that, or they could have been victims too.

Thank G-d they were not exploited or abused sexually. We just feel very violated for what he did.

I pity his innocent wife and three innocent children. He basically murdered his own family, as well.

I feel like taking Eli and shaking him by the shoulders and asking him "WHY?!" I don't know how long the scars will remain. Only time will tell...

15

 Nov 13, 2015 at 11:02 AM Proud Jewish Mother Says:

Reply to #7  
Geulah Says:

And the license guarantees you no harm?

Heck no!!! It certainly does not! My two youngest sons worked with him for five years. THANK G-D they were not sexually exploited from what we can tell by that MONSTER!

16

 Nov 13, 2015 at 11:14 AM Proud Orthodox Jewish Mom Says:

Reply to #3  
Realist77 Says:

As a licensed Clinical Social Worker that specializes in treating children and adolescents this type of behavior sickens me. They amount of trauma that is caused takes years to repair. This teenager and his parents trusted this professional. It totally sickens me.

Thank you for your posting. He worked with my two youngest sons for five years. I met with him every week, once a week for ten minutes to give him a "head-up" before they saw him privately. As far as we an ascertain, THANK G-D my children were not sexually exploited in any way. That being said, we are all certainly very scarred and feel very betrayed and frightened from this.
I just want to also say that Jewish Family Service has TERRIFIC therapists. I see Pearl Ricklis, myself, once a week. It should not damage the reputation of the agency and other therapists. We plan to stay with them. JFS are just as horrified and betrayed as we are.
I agree that the scars will take years to heal. I know mine certainly will. We all had a very close relationship with Eli. My heart feels shredded for his innocent wife and three children too!

17

 Nov 17, 2015 at 05:18 AM sayingItAsItIs Says:

Reply to #1  
mother Says:

Again??? Who is going to say this guy is "the nicest person on the block" first? Or because he doesn't have a beard you'll be OK this time?

These people are trusted to HELP our kids, not abuse them and destroy them even more. Hang this creep out to dry - let him get 30 years. Too bad on his family, this is what needs to happen to perverts - they lose everything. If they don't think about what this does to their families, why should we?

I think that is really harsh on the family. I know them personally and they knew nothing about what was going on. They are going through Hell and dont deserve it. His wife was at home looking after the kids whilst he was 'at work'... You SHOULD think about the family as you have a moral responsibility to. just cause he was wrong and he has ruined her live, as well at the lives of the victim / their family/ local community and Klal yisorel name... poor woman is suffering and you can be so judgemental!

18

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