HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A summer trip to New Jersey took a terrifying turn for two teenage boys from Israel. The 13-year-olds say there were touched inappropriately by a rabbi they were staying with in Teaneck.
That rabbi is now facing sex assault charges and faced a judge on Wednesday, reports CBS 2’s John Slattery.
The rabbi, 63-year-old Uzi Rivlin, denied the charges that were based on accusations from two 13-year-olds.
“He’s perplexed, upset and he’s innocent of the charges,” defense attorney Howard Simmons said.
Rivlin, who founded an advocacy organization in Israel for disadvantaged children, was charged with aggravated criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child.
“He’s quite surprised at the allegations against him,” Simmons said.
Rivlin, who is married, lives in Teaneck. He was arrested at his home. Prosecutors said the two boys who made the allegations had come here from Israel — one in 2009; the other, last summer.
“Very short periods of time,” Simmons said when asked if the boys ever spent time in the accuser’s home. “Sort of a way station on their way to camp, summer camp.”
After returning to Israel, the two boys complained separately to Israeli authorities that Rivlin touched them in a sexual manner. The authorities contacted the FBI, which, in turn, contacted Bergen County to pursue the case. Rivlin, who was said to be a teacher at Congregation Beth Abraham in Tarrytown, N.Y., has lived in the United States for 20 years. He had to surrender his passport from Israel. Bail was set at $175,000.
The next move for prosecutors is to fly the two teens in from Israel to testify before a grand jury, in an effort to get an indictment.
As a condition of his release, Rivlin must agree also to have no contact with children under the age of 18.
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