NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A rabbi has been accused of sexually abusing a student at a religious school on Long Island four years ago.
Gary Lieberman, 56, of Far Rockaway pleaded not guilty on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse in First District Court in Hempstead on Friday. He was freed on $100,000 bond and ordered to stay away from his accuser.
Lieberman repeatedly abused the student between November 2009 and May 2010 at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County in West Hempstead, where he was a teacher, police said.
The student was 10 years old when the alleged abuse began, investigators said.
Lieberman allegedly molested the student in a learning resource room and a school bathroom, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported.
“Lieberman told the victim that if he tells anyone about this they would not believe him because he’s a rabbi,” Det. Lt. Kenneth Lack said.
The rabbi’s wife and son were in court Friday, but did not speak.
Lieberman was terminated from his job at the Hebrew Academy in August 2010, but police say he may have continued teaching at other private religious schools. Sources told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff he was let go for inappropriate touching that didn’t rise to the level of a crime. Parents said they were told he was massaging students’ necks.
School officials said they learned of the alleged abuse this year and notified police, who arrested Lieberman on Thursday.
“There was an allegation regarding an incident which allegedly occurred years ago which was recently brought to our attention regarding a teacher that has not worked at the school for several years,” the school said in a statement.
“The school was proactive in reporting the allegation to the police and we are continuing to cooperate with their investigation,” the statement continued.
The statute of limitations for this type of crime is five years.
“Serious allegations. We’ll seriously look into them,” Lieberman’s attorney, Alexander Novak, said.
Parents gathered at dismissal time outside the Hebrew Academy on Friday said they have confidence in their school.
“We have been happy so far and my children know when to tell me things,” Rachel Hanuka said.
“We trust our school and trust everything will be be taken care of appropriately,” Sari Kahn added.
Lieberman is due back in court Oct. 22. He faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted of each charge and the sentences run consecutively.
Detectives worry there could be additional victims and are asking anyone with information to contact the Special Victims Squad at 516-573-4022.
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