The Borough Park rabbi/travel agent accused in hundreds of incidents of sexual abuse was convicted yesterday of molesting a 16-year-old student. Baruch Lebovits could be sentenced to 32 years in jail, after being found guilty on eight counts. "I understand that there are a significant number of Jewish holidays coming up,” said the judge. “And I am sorry." The young victim testified that in 2004 Lebovits offered to let him drive his car, then unzipped his fly and performed oral sex on him. Among the rabbi’s other alleged victims is a young Hasidic man who committed suicide on his honeymoon, by jumping from the seventh story of a hotel.
Last week the victim—who’s since left the ultra-Orthodox community—said that after being abused by Rabbi Lebovits, he’s fallen prey to heroin and other substances. The defense attacked him as an unreliable addict, and insists he was trying to blackmail the powerful community leader. "We’re extremely disappointed," said lawyer Arthur Aidala of the guilty verdict. "We were hoping that the jury was going to see things differently...Mr. Lebovits still maintains his innocence." Friends and relatives gasped at the ruling, but at least one person was pleased. "Thank God, justice was served," said the father of the abused boy, according to the Daily News.
Lebovits was acquitted on two other counts, reports the Post, but still faces charges in two more molestation cases, that could earn him another eight years behind bars.