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Missing rabbi accused of sex abuse

PHOENIX, June 28 (JTA) — Police have few leads in the search for an Arizona rabbi accused of sexually abusing two teenaged girls. Temple B’rith Shalom in Prescott, Ariz., is quietly carrying on without Rabbi David Lipman, who was reported missing by his family May 24, shortly after the allegations surfaced. Lt. Pete Hodap of the Prescott Police Department said police have contacted immigration authorities “to make sure that (Lipman) hasn’t left the country.” “We’re trying to put a flag on his passport,” Hodap said, “to hopefully keep him from leaving the country, if that’s what his thoughts are.” Detective Robert Peoples said June 14 that there were “no leads yet.” “No news,” Peoples said, “don’t know where he is, no one’s talking, no one knows, apparently. Unfortunately.” According to Yavapai County’s The Daily Courier, two girls aged 16 and 14 told police Lipman had been touching them inappropriately. Peoples said his department received a call May 13 from a Child Protective Services employee who reported possible sexual abuse of the girls. The call prompted a criminal investigation against Lipman, who “admitted to inappropriate touching,” Peoples said. B’rith Shalom placed Lipman on administrative leave May 20 and terminated his employment effective May 27. Lipman, 55, was hired in the spring of 2002 and moved to Prescott from a position in Rhode Island. He was only the second full-time rabbi to serve Prescott’s only Jewish house of worship. Lipman is the son of Rabbi Eugene Lipman, who was president of the Reform Movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis from 1987-1989. He and his wife, Robyn Tevah, have five children. Mark Drutz, an attorney and B’rith Shalom member who has been acting as spokesman for the temple, said lay services are being offered on Shabbat, and that the temple’s prior rabbi is helping out. The congregation is receiving institutional support from organizations such as the Union for Reform Judaism, and members of other religions have called to offer assistance. Drutz told the Jewish News that the situation is “devastating, but the congregation is strong, and it will survive and move forward.” The Prescott Police Department has requested that anyone with information regarding Lipman’s whereabouts call the department at (928) 778-1444 or Detective Peoples at (928) 771-5802.