Orthodox rabbi in Utah tells court that nanny sexually abused him as a child


(JTA) — An Orthodox rabbi testified in a Utah court that his family’s former nanny sexually abused him for about 10 years beginning at age 8.

Rabbi Avrohom Zippel, 27, at a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Salt Lake City identified Alavina Florreich, 69, in court as his abuser. He may be the first Orthodox rabbi to come forward during the #MeToo movement as a survivor of sexual abuse, the Deseret News reported.

District Court Judge James Blanch ordered Florreich to stand trial on five counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony and two counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony.

The rabbi, who works as a Chabad emissary in Salt Lake City, where he grew up, said the #MeToo movement inspired him to come forward. He also cited as an inspiration Jewish Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, who testified in court alongside 156 other women against former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted of sexually abusing them.

Florreich, a native of Tonga, a kingdom in the South Pacific, was arrested last March on suspicion of 131 counts of child abuse.

In interviews taped by police, Florreich said she was teaching Zippel to be a good husband and that it was “all part of the boy’s curiosity” and it was just him “learning,” according to a police report, the Deseret News reported.

Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City in 2002 at 14 and was sexually abused during her nine months being held captive, attended the hearing in a show of support for the rabbi. She has helped to advise him on the case, according to the newspaper.

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