Saturday, March 25, 2006

Update: Case of Rabbi David Lipman - Former rabbi gets more than 13 years

Prescott Daily Courier
March 25, 2006

PRESCOTT Sentencing him to a mitigating prison term of 13-and-a-half years on Friday for viewing sexually explicit images of young children on his computer, a judge agreed with the state that former Rabbi David Lipman violated his position of trust.

Yavapai County Superior Court Judge William Kiger said that the victims include not only children portrayed in the computer images, but his family and members of his congregation.

"That is a very deep violation of trust," Kiger said.

Lipman, 56, received 13-and-a-half years in prison for one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class 2 felony, and lifetime probation for three counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, Class 3 felonies, which he'll start to serve upon his release from custody. He also has to register as a sex offender.

The charges stem from images that the police downloaded from Lipman's computer while he worked at Temple B'rith Shalom in Prescott.

He also faces 16 counts of child molestation and sexual abuse charges in connection with an investigation that involves two teen-age girls, 16 and 14, which could resolve soon with a probation-eligible plea.

During Friday's hearing, the defense called four witnesses to testify on behalf of the defendant.

Lipman's ex-wife, Linda Cahn, who practices law in New Jersey, said that she felt compelled to testify because the state left out many facts about his life when it offered him a plea.

Cahn described Lipman's work at three synagogues in New York as very dynamic.

"He was an extraordinary rabbi who was very involved with his congregation," she said, adding that Lipman is extremely smart and knows an enormous amount of information. "He has an encyclopedic amount of data in his brain."

Cahn said Lipman had an extraordinary impact on children of all ages.

"He was very, very involved with kids," Cahn said, and through a hands-on experience he taught them about Israel, its history and traditions as well as about Judaism.

"He was well liked and well regarded by members of his congregation," she said.

She said Lipman interacted with thousands of children during their marriage and she never heard a complaint or saw him acting inappropriately around them.

Of the charges involving computer images, she said, "Rabbi's computer is a private matter. It didn't impact anybody at that synagogue."

Lipman said that he is guilty of the charges and takes full responsibility for his actions. He said that for the first time in his life he is receiving treatment for a mental illness that the abuse in his early life has caused.

He said that he hopes he'll be able to overcome his sexual distortions and reconcile with his family.

Asking for a sentence of no more than 12 years, Lipman's attorney, John Trebon, said that his client is not a pedophile and that he suffers from anxiety and attachment disorders, which are treatable.

"If you are going to judge the man, you cannot forget his life," he said. "He dedicated his life to community service."

However, Prosecutor Bill Hughes asked Kiger to impose a presumptive term of 17 years because "I believe he is a danger to the community," he said.

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