Saturday, March 25, 2006

Court Update: Case of Rabbi David Lipman

The following is from an individual who attended the sentencing hearing of Rabbi David Lipman

As promised, here is what happened in court on Friday, March 24, 2006 on the case of Rabbi David Lipman.

They court kind of rolled the charged of the sexual abuse of two teenage girls in with the charge of pornography.

First of all, the defense called Lipman's ex-wife to the stand. She came here from out east somewhere. She is an attorney. She testified about how great Lipman is and what wonderful works he did. They were married in 1975, separated in 1992 and divorced in 1995 or 1996 (she couldn't remember the exact year).

The ex-wife testified about how he took 10th graders to Israel for 6 weeks every summer and she went on some of those trips. When the prosecutor asked if Lipman had abused any other family members, she seemed to hesitate before she answered. She said she never heard any allegations of sexual abuse to the children he taught or counseled. The defense attorney brought up the psycho-sexual evaluation and it showed that Lipman had a sexual preference for 14-17 year old children.

Next, the executive director of the People Who Care program spoke. The program helps people in need, such as providing rides to the doctor, for groceries, other social type services, etc. It also runs the Interfaith program. She said he showed up at meetings when a lot of other clergy did not and he spoke to legislators to get various laws changed. She said he is wonderful, but has a mental health problem that needs to be dealt with.

Next, a congragant spoke (a male). He said he is an atheist or an agnostic, but he liked Lipman and said that he is an incredible man. Someone, and it may have been this man, said Lipman is like a walking encyclopedia. (He has a photographic memory.)

A female congregant then spoke and she, too, said how wonderful Lipman is. She said that since the first allegations arose, he lost weight and his voice has changed. (Remember he was missing for 5 weeks. That is when he lost the weight. He was also clean shaven in court.) The woman said he is more rational since his treatment and alluded to the fact he was suicidal before the treatment. She thinks mental illness is involved and he is trying to deal with it.

The judge asked if there was anyone else to speak and they asked that Lipman's present wife speak on behalf of the two teenage girls. This caught everyone by surprise, so there was a 5 minute recess so the attorney could talk with her.

During the recess, the male congregant that spoke was speaking to someone and he couldn't understand why there was a problem with Lipman viewing child pornography....after wasn't hurting anyone. UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!

His present wife spoke on behalf of the teenage girls and said the older teen feels guilty that she ever said anything and all of this came about.

At one point, the prosecutor said that Lipman should be punished and jailed and his present wife shook her head with a vehement no.

The defense attorney then spoke and said the sentence for this type of crime is 10-24 years and Lipman was willing to serve 12 years so that the teenage girls did not have to testify. He said his profile shows a low recidivism rate and that the Able assessment that the prosecutor talked about always shows a reaction from men when shown the prepubescent pictures. He said Lipman had avulsion therapy. He said he is not a pedophile and Lipman wants probation. The defense attorney said that Lipman suffered trauma for a substantial period of time as a child.

Lipman went through the River Oaks Psychiatric Hospital in January and just got out last week.

Lipman read a statement saying he had remorse. He said the abuse had been festering in him and he acted out on it and has also had multiple partners. He said he is in a 12 step program. He plans to write another couple of books, is in a 12 step program, and hopes to resume a loving relationship with his wife when he gets out of jail.

The judge spoke and said that this man had a lot to offer, is intelligent, has done good works, etc, but that he does have to pay for his crime. He said it showed how well he was liked by the people that turned out today. (The judge will get a letter from me saying he made a big presumption!)

He was sentenced to 13 1/2 years in jail, starting today. He has no credit for time served. When he has served his term, he will be on lifetime probation, which will cost him $75 per month. The probation came with stipulations, such as no drinking or drugs, etc. He will also be listed as a lifetime sexual predator.

Although we would have liked to see a stiffer penalty, we are happy he did not just get probation.

On April 3, they will have another hearing which it sounds like will roll the child sexual abuse charges into this and there will be no further sentencing.

I think the prosecutor felt they did not have a solid enough case on the child abuse charges because the two teenage girls did not want to testify.


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