8 Oct 2008

Chabad leader's abuse case widens

The Times Union - New York
October 8, 2008

Rabbi's son among the alleged victims; accused says vendetta is at work

by Marc Parry | Times Union writer

ALBANY � A Loudonville rabbi faced fresh sex-abuse charges on Tuesday � and his lawyer confirmed the father of one of the alleged victims is another local rabbi.

Yaakov Weiss appeared in Albany City Court on the day before the Yom Kippur high holiday to answer charges that he sexually abused a 13-year-old boy.

The 28-year-old rabbi, founder of the Chabad of Colonie, e-mailed the Times Union a statement on Tuesday night calling the accusations "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. "This is his way of getting rid of us."

Weiss carried an infant child into the courthouse and prayed in the vestibule. He later appeared in the courtroom in handcuffs, pleading not guilty to misdemeanor charges of sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

The charges stem from "inappropriate sexual contact" with the boy in June on Whitehall Road, according to Albany police.

Weiss was released without bail and drove away in a silver SUV.

Weiss adheres to the Chabad-Lubavitch branch of Judaism, known for its outreach work to get Jews more involved in their religion. He moved to Colonie from Iowa in 2004 with his wife Rosa and an infant daughter. He founded the Chabad of Colonie and the Chabad Hebrew School soon after.

Tuesday's charges come one week after Weiss was arrested for allegedly abusing another 13-year-old boy.

The rabbi's new accuser is a member of the same religious community as Weiss, said Dave Rossi, chief of the homicide and special victims bureau in the Albany County District Attorney's Office.

Rossi wouldn't discuss any other details about their relationship or where the alleged abuse took place. Authorities restricted access to all court papers in the case.

Weiss's attorney, Arnold Proskin, also declined to reveal more details beyond his claim that the father of one of Weiss's alleged victims is a rabbi -- a claim Rossi would not confirm.

"I think you're going to find some very strange, strange reasons for these things happening," he said outside the courtroom.

In his statement, Weiss characterized the accusations as a plot concocted by the unnamed "envious" individual.

"This individual contacted the authorities three months ago together with a close friend," Weiss claimed. "His new allegations were released today."

Rossi said the investigation was continuing but he was unaware of any other victims.

Weiss has been suspended, said Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Brooklyn-based worldwide Lubavitch organization.

"I would emphasize very unequivocally that the suspension is in no way whatsoever implicating him or an admission or a decision of guilt," he said.

This article was found at:

http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=727340

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