Convicted, Registered Level 3 Sex Offender
Sues for Defamation
Olam Hafuch Ra'isi - A Topsy-Turvy World
We'd like to share with our friends and supporters some of the details of the jaw-dropping story of Yona Weinberg, a convicted, registered, New York State Level 3 Sex Offender, who is suing me for slander in Israel. The story became public when it was reported in Yediyot Achronot, a popular Israeli newspaper (see translation below*).
As you know, our mission at The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES is and has always been to protect children wherever they are, around the world. This was the reason I utilized Twitter to send an online warning to the residents of Har Nof in January, 2015, that Mr. Weinberg, who had just moved to their neighborhood was a convicted registered Leve 3 Sex Offender who presents a clear and continuing danger to their children. The NYS Division of Criminal Justice website describes a Level 3 registered sex offender, their highest level, as one who has a "high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety exists".
In June 2015, I was served with papers at my home in Monsey, informing me that a summary judgement was issued against me in an Israeli court. The judgement obligated me to pay Mr. Weinberg 200,000 shekel (about $55,000) for slandering him, plus court costs.
My Israeli attorney had that judgement set aside, but as things stand today, I am still facing the specter of a lawsuit for Mr. Weinberg's 200,000 shekel claim against me. Upon my attorney's advice, I maintained total silence regarding this matter until the judgement was set aside, but now that it has, I will vigorously and publicly defend the right of everyone to warn parents about the presence of registered sex offenders in their neighborhoods and the danger they pose to their children.
Bringing awareness about registered sex offenders to parents who may not have access to that information, is congruent with the Halachic guidance we at Project YES received over the years.
Hagaon Horav Shmuel Kaminetsky shlit'a, who has served as Posek (Rabbinic Advisor) for Project YES for nearly 20 years, personally told me that one is not only permitted, but is obligated, to share information about registered sex offenders with others. This is due to their high recidivism rate, which makes them an imminent Sakana (danger) to children. (I called the Rosh Yeshiva yesterday to be sure that my memory of our previous conversations was correct. He confirmed that it was, and gave me permission to share this P'sak (ruling) in his name with our readers.)
We hope that sanity will prevail in the Israeli courts, and that the publicity of the Yediyot article will result in the termination of this frivolous and disgraceful lawsuit.
We at Project YES will not be deterred or intimidated. We will continue to advocate for the safety of our children.
Gut Shabbos and G'mar Chasima Tova.
*The Rabbi Warned about a Pedophile - and Was Sued
When Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz heard that Yona (Jason) Weinberg made Aliyah to Israel, he rushed to warn the Chareidi community is Har Nof that the New Oleh is a convicted pedophile. It didn't cross his mind that as a result of putting out this warning he would be slammed with a legal suit for slander to the tune of 200,000 NIS.
Weinberg (37), a social worker by profession, who had worked as a Bar Mitzvah teacher, was convicted in the USA in 2009 for sexual assault of two 13-year old boys and sentenced to 13 months in prison. His picture and name were published on the sex offenders list, and he was assessed as being a danger to the public of Level 3 - the most severe category.
Last summer, Weinberg, his wife and family emigrated to Israel and moved to the community of Har Nof in Jerusalem. Horowitz, who is dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam in New York, quickly warned the community in Israel regarding Weinberg, while doing so, using the expression: "Residents of Har Nof, convicted pedophile Yona Weinberg, assessed as being danger level 3, should be regarded like a terrorist with a machete." According to his claim, presented in Horowitz' defense, Weinberg left the USA in response to a new allegation which was registered with the police, according to which he again harmed a child. Weinberg denies the claim regarding the new allegation.
In response to this, Weinberg sued Horowitz for slander, in which he claimed: The publicity reached the plaintive’s neighbors and he underwent and continues to suffer from a difficult time. He was also invited to discussions to clarify the situation, including by the school where his children study.
"The fact that the court in Israel did not throw out the case is unfathomable to me," said Horowitz. "I brought to the attention of the community, information which the US authorities found appropriate to publish to warn the public".
Attorney Itzik Bam, representing Rabbi Horowitz, stated in response: "To our great regret, Israel has welcomed a dangerous sex offender, who had the gall to bring a slander suit against someone for warning the public about him."
Attorney Eitan Lehman, who brought the libel suit on behalf of Weinberg, stated: "The plaintive has no objection against the accused for publicizing his conviction itself in the USA, which he apparently acknowledges. The lawsuit relates to the accused lied while claiming that my client "fled" from the USA or that there are new allegations, which are damaging lies."
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