Rabbi pleads guilty to endangering child


 NEW YORK (JTA) — An upstate New York rabbi in a plea bargain admitted to "inappropriate physical contact" with an underage boy.

Yaakov Weiss, 29, the founder of the Chabad of Colonie and the Chabad Hebrew School, pleaded guilty to one count of child endangerment for telling a 14-year-old boy not to "just say nothing happened" if asked about a 2007 incident, according to the Times Union of Albany.

Weiss was facing four counts of child endangerment and sexual abuse stemming from incidents with two boys in 2007. He allegedly had inappropriate sexual contact with the boys in a mikvah, or ritual bath.

If found guilty on the charges, the rabbi could have received up to two years in prison and would have had to register as a sex offender.

Weiss later had a phone conversation that was monitored by police in which he told one boy to say nothing happened if questioned by the authorities. That led to the charge of child endangerment, to which he pleaded guilty in exchange for dropping the other charges.

Weiss is facing 60 days in jail and will not have to register as a sex offender.

He has said the allegations against him are baseless.

"This has been generated by an individual who has been antagonistic toward Chabad of Colonie from its inception and continues to be envious of continued success," Weiss wrote to the Times Union in an e-mail several months ago. "This is his way of getting rid of us."

Assistant District Attorney Prosecutor Shannon Sarfoh, who prosecuted the case, said she was “pleased that the case was resolved in this manner, requiring the defendant to publicly admit to the conduct he subjected those two boys to, while also sparing them the difficulty of testifying to the events publicly.”

According to a Chabad spokesperson, Weiss was suspended from the international Lubavitch organization immediately after the allegations first surfaced.

Weiss is the son-in-law of Sholom Rubashkin, the former manager of what was the Agriprocessors meat plant in Postville, Iowa, who was convicted in November of financial fraud.


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