Baltimore Sun: Allegations mount against respected rabbi


From The Baltimore Sun:

For more than half a century, Rabbi Jacob A. Max was a dominant figure in Baltimore’s Jewish community, founder of one of its most important synagogues, an influential leader who officiated at countless cycle-of-life rituals of the faith. A man, it seemed from afar, above reproach.

But Max’s reputation disintegrated earlier this year after he was convicted of sexually molesting a woman half his age in a Reisterstown funeral home.
On April 13, three days before his 85th birthday, Max was found guilty of second-degree assault and a fourth-degree sex offense after a brief bench trial in Baltimore County District Court. Max, who has been married for 25 years, was sentenced to a suspended one-year prison term and one year of unsupervised probation. He will not appeal, his lawyer said.

News of the conviction prompted five other women to share with The Baltimore Sun their own allegations of improper advances by the rabbi. Three contacted a reporter and the remaining two were referred by others. The women said news of the conviction impelled them to come forward because they believe their charges about Max’s behavior deserve to be disclosed, no matter how long ago the events occurred.

The case also spurred Max’s defenders to come forward, saying the rabbi remains a respectable figure who has been unfairly maligned. Informed of the women’s allegations, Max’s lawyer, David B. Irwin, said his client was innocent. "If anyone took a friendly gesture the wrong way, as far as he’s concerned, he’s sorry," Irwin said. "But he never intentionally molested or inappropriately touched anyone."

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