A 38-year-old child therapist from Bergenfield, NJ was arrested yesterday and charged with, among other things, coercing a 16-year-old boy into engaging in sexual activity with him while filming and photographing him.
Starting in March, therapist Elliot Halberstam "coerced and enticed a 16-year-old boy who was a former patient of his to engage in sexually explicit conduct"; he would then take pictures and videos of the teen, according to a statement from Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office. He is also accused of setting up an email account through which the victim, who apparently wanted to become a model, would send explicit videos of himself. Halberstam is accused of renting hotel rooms to film sexual encounters with the victim, offering him alcohol, and using the email accounts to discuss the victim's grooming.
The FBI is also investigating whether Halberstam had additional underage victims. "Actually currently trying to use my amazing grooming techniques to convince and lure another teenager into coming to a hotel room and get blown," he wrote in an email, according to a criminal complaint. "Working amazingly well. Apparently I'm an expert at it."
Halberstam was arrested on Tuesday and charged with coercing and enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, sexual exploitation of a child, and one count of receipt of child pornography. "Elliot Halberstam is charged with violating the trust of his former patient, a 16-year old boy, in the worst way imaginable," Bharara said in a statement yesterday. "Together with our partners at the FBI, we are dedicated to ensuring that those who sexually exploit children are held to account."