Teen Testifies About Abuse at Trial of New Jersey Yeshiva Teacher

In nearly two and a half hours of testimony in a New Jersey courtroom, a teenage boy described repeated sexual assaults by a counselor at an Orthodox Jewish summer camp.

The boy, 16, and described by the Asbury Park Press as “tall, lanky and rosy-cheeked,” said he was happy when he attracted the attention of counselor Yosef Kolko in 2007 at Yachad summer camp, saying he had no friends at the time and it felt “awesome” to be noticed by a “cool” counselor. But when the boy returned to camp the next summer, Kolko singled him out in a series of encounters that involved touching, oral sex, and attempted anal sex, the Press said.

The teen testified that secret encounters with Kolko continued through 2008 and into early 2009 at places in and around Lakewood, New Jersey, including the basement of a synagogue.

Kolko, who was a counselor at Yachad as well as a teacher at Yeshiva Orchos Chaim in Lakewood, is charged with aggravated sexual assault, attempted aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and child endangerment, the Asbury Park Press said.

In her opening statement, Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Laura Pierro praised the boy and his family for bringing the case to the authorities. The Orthodox community discourages its members from involving secular authorities in abuse cases, pressing them to resolve such matters internally, Pierro said. The family was ostracized by the community and eventually moved away to Michigan, the Asbury Park Press reported.

The teenager said he hesitated to tell anyone about the abuse in part because he was afraid of ruining Kolko’s career and his chance to get married, the Press said. Kolko had said he was getting help, the boy testified, so the boy thought there was no reason to say anything. But in early 2009, when he confided in a therapist who discouraged him from contact with Kolko, the boy decided he should tell his father about the abuse.

 

 

 

 

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