Sex abuse rabbi vows to appeal
The attorney representing a borough rabbi sentenced to 32 years in prison for sex abuse last week has vowed to appeal, claiming that the allegations were part of the victim’s elaborate “get-rich-quick” scam.
“This was a set-up,” attorney Arthur Aidala said hours after Rabbi Baruch Lebovits was sentenced to 10 and two-thirds to 32 years in prison for sexually abusing a 16-year-old on eight separate occasions between 2004 and 2005.
Prosecutors charge that Lebovits lured the teen into his car and then performed sex acts on him.
Aidala claims that these allegations were made years after they occurred — after the victim learned that Lebovits’ son won the lottery in Israel and had become a multi-millionaire.
“[Lebovits] is being extorted because one of his sons recently found wealth,” said Aidala, adding that a detective also “turned over crucial paperwork much later than he should have.”
Aidala also lashed out against Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Patricia DiMango, claiming that her sentence was too harsh.
She could have ordered the sentences to be concurrent rather than consecutive, he explained.
“In our opinion, she’s punishing us for exercising our God-given right to hold people to its burden,” Aidala said. “They’re punishing people who want to go to trial.”
During last week’s court appearance, DiMango said that she was ordering the sentences be held consecutively because “it is important for the courts to send a clear message that abusing and harming children will not be tolerated.”
Lebovits sat stone-faced in the courtroom and refused to speak in his own defense when he was asked to address the court.
“No thanks,” he muttered when DiMango offered him a chance to speak.
Prosecutors said that Lebovits is also charged in two other cases of sexual assaults on minors.
Those cases are pending.
Cops assist in assault charges being dropped
Perjured testimony from a police officer helped kick an assault case against a man accused of stabbing another male in the chest after a spat at a borough stoop sale, according to a recently released court decision.
After telling a grand jury that he had tracked down and arrested suspect Akindele Jones following the stabbing on Apr. 26, 2008, Officer Paul Harloff admitted in 2009 that he “may not have been the officer who stopped the defendant or recovered the knife.”
Jones immediately filed to dismiss the indictment against him, claiming that Harloff’s statements “falsely suggested” that he was in flight — which soured his justification defense.
Attorneys for Jones do not dispute that the young man stabbed his victim — the simply claim he was acting in self defense..
Jones said that he was visiting a stoop sale when he began talking to a woman he once dated.
When the two began to argue, Leonard White, the superintendent of the building where the stoop sale was being held, asked Jones to leave.
Jones claimed that White followed him around the corner and then attacked him with a sheet rock knife.
He then pulled his own knife, plunging it in White’s chest.
After stabbing White, he went to a nearby police station to report what happened and show them the deep cut to his face he received from White’s knife.
At that time, a 911 call was transmitted about the stabbing. The cops who were questioning him ultimately took him into custody.
Harloff torpedoed the self defense justification by alleging that after responding to the 911 call, he tracked down and arrested Jones several blocks away.
After finally admitting that he wasn’t the cop who arrested Jones, Harloff named a few of the officers involved in his apprehension.
The officers confirmed that Harloff didn’t take part in Jones’ arrest, but none of them had “any recollection of the circumstances surrounding the recovery and vouchering of the knife,” according to court papers.
Prosecutors asked Judge Dineen A. Riviezzo to not throw out the indictment, claiming that Harloff’s statements to the grand jury was “so generalized that it did not prejudice the defendant.”
“Harloff never indicated that the defendant was running or resisted arrest,” they claim.
Judge Riviezzo dismissed the indictment, allowing prosecutors to re-present their charges at a later date.
Bklyn’s Family Court to expand
A handful of freshly minted judgeships have been ordered for Brooklyn’s Family Court to handle the increased number of cases there, state officials announced.
The Assembly passed a bill last week that would create 21 Family Court judgeships statewide. Seven of those positions will be in New York City, officials said. Upwards of three of these judgeships will filter down to Brooklyn Family Court on Jay Street between Johnson and Willoughby streets.
Currently there are 17 judges sitting in Brooklyn Family Court.
That number includes several Supreme Court judges who are pitching into oversee cases, officials said.