Baruch Lebovits, a 59-year-old Orthodox Rabbi from Brooklyn, New York, has been sentenced to 10-2/3 to 32 years in prison for sexually assaulting a teenage boy. The sentence, meted out by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Patricia DiMango, was the maximum penalty.
Lebovits, who was never officially ordained, was called â€œRabbiâ€ as a sign of respect by members of his Borough Park Hasidic community. He was found guilty of eight sexual abuse counts last month.
At trial last month, prosecutors said Lebovits molested the now 22-year-old victim in a car on eight occasions in 2004 and 2005. The victim, who was 16 when the abuse occurred, was lured into the car by the promise of driving lessons. The victim, also an Orthodox Jew, was friends with Lebovits’ son at the time.
At trial, the victim testified that he waited to come forward because he was ashamed. He has broken ties with his Hasidic community.
Lebovitz, who has been accused in hundreds of other incidents of sexual abuse, faces charges in two more molestation cases. If found guilty, he could face another eight years in prison.
After the sentence was handed down, several advocates told the New York Daily News that it will send a message to the Orthodox Jewish community where, they say, frank discussion of sexual abuse is rare.
According to a report in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, in the last year, Brooklynâ€™s State Supreme Court has issued an increasing number of subpoenas to members of the Jewish Orthodox community in relation to child sexual abuse cases. Until recently, most of these cases were handled within the community.
According to the Kings County DAâ€™s office, 30 members of this community in Brooklyn have been prosecuted for child sexual abuse. Among those 30 prosecutions, half were for misdemeanor offenses, half for felony crimes, the Brooklyn Eagle said.