NEW SQUARE — A New Square educator accused of molesting a young boy repeatedly over five years is innocent, his lawyer said Monday while rejecting comparisons between this case and another in which the suspect’s brother abused a teenager.
“They’re two different individuals,” lawyer Gerard Damiani said after his client Moshe Taubenfeld appeared in Village Court on a felony charge that could land him in prison for up to seven years.
Taubenfeld, 55, made no comments during the brief hearing, during which the judge kept the defendant’s bail at $25,000 and confirmed that he had to turn over his passport and must stay away from the victim.
Media filmed the first part of the hearing, but were ordered to turn off cameras after his lawyer raised objections.
Taubenfeld, a father of 20, ducked the media and rushed out a side door afterward.
His lawyer said Taubenfeld is under a “pretty big strain.”
Taubenfeld was charged with second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child. The alleged abuse started Sept. 11, 2001, when the preteen boy, Laiby, said he came to the man seeking comfort after the terrorist attacks.
The abuse allegedly continued until the child turned 13 in 2006.
Laiby said he and his family reported the abuse about six years ago to community leaders, who discouraged him from going to police.
His experience was similar to those of other New Square abuse victims, including a young man, Yossi, who reported Taubenfeld’s brother, Herschel, to police in 2011.
In an investigative report earlier this month in The Journal News, Yossi and another accuser, Yehuda, described how the community has created a culture in which victims are discouraged from going to police and abusers are protected.
Herschel Taubenfeld pleaded guilty last year to one count of misdemeanor forcible touching, received six years probation and had to register as a sex offender.
While he avoided jail, advocates for Laiby say they’re pressing for maximum prison time for the brother.
One victims advocate, a Brooklyn man who identified himself only by his first name of Abraham, attended the hearing and said outside the courtroom that he’s hoping this latest case will set a precedent for New Square that sex abusers will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
The case will eventually be moved to Rockland County court, which handles felony prosecutions.