Cantor placed on probation in assaults on young boy
Centre Daily Times, PA
September 19, 2006
NORRISTOWN, Pa. - The former cantor of a prominent New York City synagogue was placed on probation in connection with alleged sexual assaults on a young boy during the 1990s in Lower Merion Township.
Montgomery County Court Judge Paul W. Tressler, however, on Tuesday ordered Howard Nevison to visit a New York prison to get a clear understanding of what awaits him should he violate his 12-year probation.
Nevison, 65, the popular cantor at the 10,000-member Temple Emanu-El on Manhattan's Upper East Side, was ordered to have no contact with children under 12.
Tressler said probation was a standard sentence for a person without a prior criminal offense. He said Nevison had been "a perfect citizen" before the criminal case and posed little threat to the community.
After four years of fighting the charges, Nevison entered an "Alford plea" in June to five misdemeanor charges, meaning he did not admit any wrongdoing but acknowledged that prosecutors would likely win conviction at trial.
He entered the plea to charges of indecent assault, simple assault, terroristic threats, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of a child. A felony charge of aggravated indecent sexual intercourse was dropped by prosecutors as part of the plea agreement.
The courtroom was packed with supporters of the cantor, including the temple's senior rabbi, Ronald Sobel. Nevison was put on leave from the Reform synagogue in 2003.
Authorities said the attacks began when the boy was 3 and continued until he was 7 years old. Two other men have served time for sexually assaults on the same boy.
The youth, now 17, called Nevison "a coward" who robbed him of his trust and happiness as a child. "As a cantor in the Jewish religion, you should know that what you did will not sit well with God," he testified.
Nevison said that he had "compassion" for the boy but did not apologize in court.