A Williamsburg man is due to be arraigned Thursday afternoon following his arrest in connection with an alleged sexual assault that occurred in Monsey, New York sometime between April and June of 2023.
Joseph Grunwald, a convicted sex offender and Williamsburg resident, was arrested Jan. 3 in Borough Park as he exited a synagogue. He is being represented by attorney Allegra Glashausser of Brooklyn Federal Defenders.
According to a criminal complaint filed by Breon Peace, the US District Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Grunwald began communicating with the underage victim in April of last year, using the instant messaging app Telegram to lure a minor to meet him using interstate commerce.
Grunwald allegedly asked whether the victim was a “bocher” — a Yiddish term for boy — with the victim replying he was 14 years old. Grunwald then allegedly told the victim that he was a school bus driver, sending the victim pictures of himself aboard a school bus.
As time progressed, Grunwald continued to communicate with the victim, allegedly asking the victim sexual questions. According to the criminal complaint, Grunwald on more than one occasion explicitly said he was interested in young boys, telling the victim, “I do it with teenagers every day” and “wow I like young boys.”
Grunwald also allegedly described in his messages to the victim how he bribed other victims by purchasing them items or gifts, going on to promise the victim that, if he needed anything, Grunwald would buy it for him on Amazon.
In June of 2023, the victim alleges that Grunwald arranged for him to visit on the premise that Grunwald would help the victim get a cell phone. Grunwald then allegedly picked up the victim from his shul — a Yiddish word for synagogue — before driving the two of them to a dead end road near Lake Suzanne in Monsey, where Grunwald is said to have molested the victim.
Following the sexual assault, Grunwald continued to use Telegram to message the victim, at times threatening to kill or harm the victim and his family, according to the criminal complaint. In one message to the victim, Grunwald said that this was not the first instance where he had assaulted a child.
“You’re not the first boy I’ve done this to,” one message from Grunwald allegedly read. “I promise you that, and I’m warning you with your life. You blocked me and you lit a fire under me. I’m going to beat you. I promise you.”
In further messages, Grunwald also allegedly threatened to call the victim’s mother and therapist and tell them everything that transpired.
The threatening messages continued well into December of 2023, with the suit alleging that Grunwald had made threats to the victim within the prior week to the complaint, which was filed on Thursday.
The Eastern District of New York’s District Attorney office is seeking Grunwald’s imprisonment for the duration of the trial, citing his previous convictions of sexual assault which required him to register as a sex offender in New York State, as well as the risk to the community Grunwald poses.
“He is a serial sex offender who committed a hands-on sexual assault of a child, threatened that child, and bragged that he has exploited other children,” the suit filed by Peace’s office on Thursday stated. “He also has a strong incentive to flee in light of the strong evidence against him, the 20-year mandatory minimum sentence he faces, and the possibility of additional charges.”