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American Rabbi Who Warned Parents Against Pedophile, Exonerated in Defamation Lawsuit

After Five Years, an American Rabbi Who Warned Israeli Parents About a Pedophile Is exonerated in a 200,000 ILS Defamation Lawsuit

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz Who Warned Israeli Parents About Pedophile Found Not Liable in a 200,000 ILS Defamation Lawsuit
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz Found Not Liable in a 200,000 ILS Defamation Lawsuit

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, an American Orthodox rabbi and champion for child protection, was ruled not guilty in a 200,000 ILS libel action brought against him by Yona Weinberg, a convicted sex offender.

The complaint was brought in response to a 2015 tweet by the Rabbi urging parents in Jerusalem’s Har Nof area to protect their children from Weinberg and to treat him “like a terrorist with a machete.”

Thus concludes a five-year legal saga in which the pedophile attempted to sabotage the Rabbi’s plans to hold an abuse-prevention lecture in Har Nof by filing a restraining order against Horowitz in an Israeli court.

Justice Michal Hirschfeld’s ruling in the Jerusalem Magistrate Court stated that Horowitz’s primary warning against Weinberg is both truthful and a genuine expression of his viewpoint, which is sufficient grounds for dismissing the central complaint.

Additionally, Hirschfeld stated that she was convinced that the Rabbi “was imbued with a public purpose” as a result of his advocacy in several cases of sexual abuse of youngsters, which devastated their lives and drove some to suicide.

To this end, Judge Hirschfeld concluded that Horowitz was right in coming to the “reasonable judgment” that Weinberg was a “terrorist with a machete,” based on the existential threat that child sex abuse poses.

Despite dismissing the suit’s central complaint, the Judge found Horowitz liable for two false public statements he made, namely that Weinberg was distributing candies to Orthodox children without kosher certification and that he was a fugitive fleeing America to avoid arrest on an additional child abuse charge (because those charges were not filed at the time Weinberg left for Israel).

The Judge ordered the rabbi to pay Weinberg 3,000 ILS in addition to 3,000 ILS in expenses and half of Weinberg’s court fees.

After noting the amount of the award, the judge stated that “the complaint against the principal publication – which is possibly the most significant of all – was dismissed.” Additionally, she was impressed by the Rabbi’s “altruistic motivations, which are motivated by genuine concern for public welfare,” noting that, unlike in the country where the original crimes were committed, Jewish sexual offenders who immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return are not subject to any restrictions in Israel.

Rabbi Horowitz, the founding Dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, a Yeshiva Elementary School in New York, was named “Rockland Educator of the Year” in 2002, received the 2005 Grinspoon-Steinhart Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, and the prestigious Covenant Award in 2008 for his contributions to Jewish Education and child abuse prevention work. In 2011, he co-authored the ground-breaking kid safety book “Let’s Stay Safe,” which soon became a best-seller, reaching over 120,000 Orthodox families in three languages.

Horowitz is a prolific social media influencer across several platforms and has started a new Instagram page @brightbeginningsforum where he posts Under-a-Minute Parents Clips on a variety of parenting subjects, including child safety and abuse prevention, six days a week.

Yonah Weinberg is an Orthodox Jew from the United States who relocated to Israel towards the end of 2014 and resided in Jerusalem’s Har Nof district. Weinberg was convicted of sexually molesting two adolescents five years before he immigrated to Israel. He was preparing them for their Bar Mitzvos. He was sentenced to 13 months in jail, of which 11 months were served, and is currently listed as a level-3 sex offender on New York State’s online sex offender registry. Horowitz began warning the public about Weinberg’s new neighbor after learning of his departure to Israel. Horowitz tweeted: “Har Nof residents, convicted sex offender Yona Weinberg is LEVEL 3!! Consider him a machete-wielding terrorist.”

Rabbi Horowitz’s attorney, Itzhak Bam, states that “Yonah Weinberg is a vile and dangerous pedophile who has been convicted of sexually abusing youngsters.” The Court nitpicked Rabbi Horowitz, concluding that several of his posts were ambiguous, and gave Weinberg a paltry sum that reflects the loathing Weinberg deserves. The judgement reaffirming champions like Rabbi Horowitz’s warnings about the dangers of pedophiles is really wonderful news for which we are quite grateful.” Bam said, “In view of the Court’s interpretation of Rabbi Horowitz’s words, it is quite remarkable that the judge deemed “a terrorist with a machete” an adequate way to characterize child abusers’ life-threatening nature.”

Horowitz stated after the verdict that the five-year legal battle was worthwhile. He referred to a 2016 USA Today interview in which he stated that he “will not be intimidated by Weinberg’s lawsuit” and that he fully intends to continue his child-safety advocacy, noting that he has a sacred duty to use his public voice to educate parents about best practices in child safety education as well as to warn them about the dangers sexual offenders pose to their children.

He continued, “It is past time for Israel to establish a legal registry of sexual offenders, so that parents may adequately protect their children from them.”

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