'Perv' Rabbi in Shul Shocker
Victims Say Yeshiva Hid Kid 'Abuse'
By Heidi Singer, Alex Ginsberg, Murray Weiss and John Mazor
New York Post
December 9, 2006
December 9, 2006 -- A Brooklyn yeshiva covered up a rabbi's long history of child molestation and threatened parents and children who tried to end the abuse, it was charged yesterday.
Officials of Yeshiva Mesivta Torah Temimah knew of Rabbi Joel Kolko's attacks on young boys but ignored them because he was cleared by a rabbinical court, said lawyer Jeffrey Herman, who represents some of the alleged victims.
Details of Kolko's lurid past rocked the close-knit Jewish community yesterday as the rabbi was arraigned on new sex abuse charges yesterday.
They involved a 6-year-old boy - and a 31-year-old man, who says he was abused as a boy and again when he went back to visit the school last year.
The yeshiva denied a coverup.
Head Rabbi Lipa Margulies "never received any hard evidence about anything about Rabbi Kolko," said Avi Moskowitz, the attorney for Margulies and the yeshiva.
But Herman told The Post that when one boy considered making a public accusation against Kolko, his father got a threatening phone call from the yeshiva's leader.
The victim said Margulies "told his father that if your son doesn't keep his mouth shut, I can't guarantee the safety of your other children," Herman said.
"It's very scary stuff," he said. "All of a sudden, kids were afraid to come forward."
Word of the scandal first broke in May when Kolko, who is 60 and has 18 grandchildren, was hit by a $20 million lawsuit. Two former students filed the suit, charging they were molested more than 25 years ago.
One of the accusers, David Framowitz, 48, said he had been abused by Kolko at least 15 times over two years, both at the yeshiva and in the front seat of a Plymouth driven by the rabbi.
Kolko was arrested Thursday on the new charges, including allegedly touching the 6-year-old at the yeshiva on Ocean Parkway in Midwood.
He was also charged with attacking the 31-year-old man, who was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in May.
When the former student attended a social event at the school in January 2005, Kolko held the man down and forced the victim's hand onto Kolko's genitals, authorities said.
Yesterday, the rabbi, wearing a navy blue suit and black yarmulke, said nothing at his arraignment as $10,000 bail was set.
His lawyer, Scott Tulman, said the charges were "unquestionably . . . serious, but the fact remains it is just an allegation."
Moscowitz said the claim that Margulies threatened victims who came forward was "absolute lies."
Asked whether the school knew of the previous accusations, he said, "There's ancient history that's being referred to, but there have been no credible complaints."
But Herman said there are claims that Margulies interfered with a rabbinical court to protect Kolko, whom his accusers called "a very sick man."
"But what's incredible to me is that you have a rabbi who runs this school and presumably doesn't have this sickness and is alleged to have been covering for a known pedophile for over 25 years," he said. "It's a breach of trust at the highest level."
Assistant District Attorney Marc Fliedner indicated more victims are being sought, saying the case was a "comprehensive, ongoing investigation."
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