Tuesday, May 03, 2016
Child advocates in the Jewish community spread a video through social media that appears to show a Hasidic school staffer forcibly touching and kissing a young male student.
The video, which surfaced on Facebook early Sunday and had 20,000 views by Monday afternoon, was prompting calls for a criminal investigation and stern rebukes by advocates who have repeatedly complained about the lack of transparency and oversight at private religious schools.
The yeshiva official works at the United Talmudical Academy in Kiryas Joel, N.Y., according to multiple sources.
The footage from an overhead camera shows the educator sitting directly in front of the young boy, who at one point clasps his hands over his pelvic area. At the end of the encounter, the school staffer opens the desk drawer, gives the child a candy, grabs the boy's arms and then appears to put them near the man's crotch, the video shows.
The school worker also seems to be kissing the child on the face for several seconds.
New York State police are looking into the circumstances of the video, a source familiar with the case said.
It is unclear who recorded the incident or when it occurred. Calls to the school - which was closed Monday - were answered.
Viewers on Facebook were horrified.
"My blood is boiling," wrote Boorey Deutsch, who was the first to post the video. "Where are the people who keep saying this never happens in our communities?"
Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler declined to discuss the tape when reached at home Sunday evening.
"Please don't call me here," he said.
A spokesman later noted his office takes complaints of child abuse "extremely" seriously but refused to discuss the video.
"Ethical rules prohibit us from commenting on specific allegations until or unless charges are publicly filed in a court," said chief assistant Christopher Borek.
Child advocates in the community want Hoovler or another law-enforcement agency to criminally charge the staffer.
Any case would be difficult or nearly impossible without the person who took the video coming forward, legal experts said.
Still, forcible touching "for the purpose of gratifying the actor's sexual desire" is a misdemeanor offense, according to New York State Law.
The video has infuriated Deutsch and others.
"Our children are not dirt," he wrote on Facebook. "And we won't be quiet about this."
The clip comes a day before a group of child victim advocates plan to rally in Albany in support of the Child Victims Act which would eliminate the statute of limitation in New York.
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