Retired Cheshire Rabbi Acquitted of Child Abuse Charges in Virginia
By Ed Stannard
New Haven Register
March 12, 2016
|Eric Silver |
A retired rabbi of Temple Beth David was acquitted Friday of three felony counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, according to a spokeswoman for the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in Virginia.
Eric A. Silver, 73, was found not guilty by Norfolk Circuit Judge David Lannetti in a trial that began Thursday. The child he was accused of abusing was a female relative, said Amanda Howie, spokeswoman for the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
“I think it’s not a surprise,” said Martin Cobern, a past president of Beth David. “I think the whole thing was bogus from the beginning and I’m just sad that it destroyed [a year] of his life and his reputation.”
Silver testified in his own defense, according to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper. His lawyer, James Broccoletti, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Silver was arrested Feb. 24, 2015, on three counts of taking liberties with a child. He had been extradited to Virginia after his arrest in Connecticut. His current residence could not be determined.
The charge includes exposing one’s genitals, sexual touching, a variety of sexual acts, as well as trying to lure a child under the age of 15 to perform such acts. The law also applies if someone 18 years old or older receives remuneration for encouraging someone under 18 to be a subject of sexually explicit material. Virginia does not have a statute of limitations on the charge.
Silver, a Vietnam War-era Navy veteran and chaplain, retired from Temple Beth David in 2010 after serving as rabbi for 20 years. He was previously spiritual leader of a synagogue in Great Neck, New York. He has had private audiences with Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
Temple Beth David, a Reform congregation, will be seeking a new rabbi starting this summer. Rabbi Joshua Whinston, who succeeded Silver, has said he will leave the congregation when his six-year contract expires on June 30.