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Monday, June 3, 2013

Teaneck rabbi in teen sex trial has stroke, ‘not likely to recover’

A stroke suffered by Teaneck rabbi Uzi Rivlin has put him in the intensive care unit and all but ended his trial on charges of molesting two 13-year-old Israeli boys staying with him as part of a scholarship program.

“Rabbi Rivlin is in the intensive care unit, and cannot walk or speak,” Superior Court Judge Patrick Roma said, reading from a letter written by Rivlin’s treating physician.

Defense attorney Howard Simmons told the judge that Rivlin, 66, is in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit of Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Demetra Maurice said one of the alleged victims arrived from Tel Aviv last Wednesday, just as news broke of Rivlin’s illness. The other was due to leave Israel today.

Today’s flight was cancelled, Maurice said, adding that she’s made arrangements for the second teenage witness and his mother to leave by the end of this week.

Roma said he will ask Presiding Judge Superior Court Liliana DeAvila –Silebi if the jury, which was empaneled last month and was due to arrive for duty tomorrow, can be assigned to another case.

The boys were brought to what was called “Camp Rivlin,” and stayed at the rabbi’s home in 2009 and 2010, under the sponsorship of an organization that he founded. Prosecutors said he fondled and masturbated both and forced them to masturbate him.

The 13 charges against Rivlin — who had a stroke in the spring of 2011 — also include two counts of impairing the morals of a minor.

The FBI summoned local authorities here after the boys went to Israel police separately after returning from the U.S., Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said when his detectives and Teaneck police arrested Rivlin in August 2011. The rabbi had remained free on $175,000 bail since then.

Rivlin, of Congregation Beth Aaron, launched The Scholarship Fund for the Advancement of Children in Israel (Keren Milgot) more than 17 years ago. Through the program, hundreds of youngsters stayed with host American families and attended Camp Moshava, an Orthodox Zionist camp in Pennsylvania.

Many came from troubled or terribly poor homes; some were orphans. Two attended Yeshiva University, while others went to local yeshivas in North Jersey and New York, including the Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck. One, a foster child, made his bar mitzvah at the Jewish Center of Teaneck while staying at “Camp Rivlin.”

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