Chasidic teen pleads guilty to firebombing attack

(JTA) – A Chasidic teenager pleaded guilty to assault in the firebombing of the home of a neighbor over a religious disagreement.

Shaul Spitzer, 18, of the New York State village of New Square, accepted a plea bargain Tuesday in the arson attack on the home of Aron Rottenberg. Under the plea bargain, Spitzer reportedly will receive a sentence of no more than 10 years; he was facing up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Sentencing is scheduled for April 17.

Last May 22, Rottenberg was severely burned over half of his body in an early morning attack outside of his home in New Square, which has a population of 7,000, mostly from the Skverer Chasidic sect. Rottenberg has undergone several skin graft surgeries.

Spitzer, who also was badly burned in the attack, had been charged with first-degree attempted arson, first-degree assault and second-degree attempted murder.

He had spent a year as a live-in aide to Rabbi David Twersky, the rebbe of the Skverer sect, before the attack.

Rottenberg filed a civil lawsuit last June against Spitzer and Twersky saying that prior to the arson attack, his family had suffered harassment in the form of rocks thrown at the windows of their home and car, the expulsion of one daughter from the village’s religious school and threatening phone calls to their home.

Rothenberg and his family say they were targeted for harassment for his refusal to pray in the main village synagogue presided over by Twersky
 

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