Author: Adam Horowitz, Attorney

Officials at Orthodox Day School SAR Academy Knew of Sexual Abuse of Twelve Students

A report to the Board of Trustees at SAR Academy, a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school in the Bronx, reveals that school official knew of sexual abuse allegations against assistant principal and teacher Stanley Rosenfed.  Rosenfeld is reported to have abused at least a dozen of the school’s students.

Stanley Rosenfeld, now 84 years old, is a convicted sex offender and has admitted to molesting hundreds of boys throughout his life, including at SAR, according to the report.  Rosenfeld would abuse young boys from SAR by inviting them to his home for Shabbat, where they would sleep over for one or two nights. At night, he would hover over their beds and fondle their genitals or other parts of their bodies. Some former students said Rosenfeld would stop the abuse after boys made it clear that it made them uncomfortable. Others reported laying motionless until the ordeal ended. Former students said the abuse caused them emotional suffering.

“One former student explained that during the night, he awoke to Rosenfeld’s hands on the former student’s penis inside the former student’s pajama bottoms, that Rosenfeld quickly removed them and then justified his presence in the twinbedded room where the boys were sleeping by saying that he heard the former student make a noise and wanted to check on him,” the report said.

The report also says that former students remember feeling as if Rosenfeld had drugged them while sleeping at his house. During those sleepovers, the report says, former students remember Rosenfeld urging them to wrestle with him while both he and the student were in their underwear. Rosenfeld would use the wrestling as a way to molest the boys. He also molested boys on the weekend retreat he would hold after they graduated from the eighth grade.

Rosenfeld, according to the report, also would abuse boys while at school, in addition to molesting at least one girl there. He asked a student to sit on his lap, where he fondled him, and also drew close to students or would corner them in public spaces before molesting them. In addition, the report says he physically abused students, slamming them against the wall and, in one case, grabbing a student’s face and putting it in the snow.

“Some of these students also reported that they heard their classmates talk about Rosenfeld and comment that they had also been touched or fondled by him and heard others more generally joke with one another about Rosenfeld’s fondling of boys,” the report says.

The report found that at least one faculty member alerted the principal at the time, Rabbi Sheldon Chwat, that she had seen Rosenfeld touch a boy’s groin in a school office. In addition, the investigation found that two parents of former students may have told SAR administrators about Rosenfeld’s misconduct, though no parents reported that directly to the investigators. Chwat left the school in 1983 and died in 2014.

It is unclear whether Rosenfeld left the school in 1977 due to these reports. But someone the report identifies as a “senior member” of SAR recalls Chwat saying that Rosenfeld was leaving because he was “the kind of person that has a proclivity or interest in students” and “not the person who should be with kids full time.”

Regardless, Rosenfeld was rehired to teach sixth-grade language arts part time in 1986 for one year. SAR’s assistant principal at the time, Rabbi Joel Cohn, asked the principal at the time, Rabbi Yonah Fuld, if there were any concerns regarding Rosenfeld. Cohn recalled that Fuld, who had been an associate principal while Rosenfeld was employed at SAR, eventually said “for a short amount of time, I think it’s OK.”

Fuld does not recall that exchange, nor does he recall Rosenfeld returning to teach at the school, the report says. It is unclear whether the administrators who hired Rosenfeld in 1986 knew of the abuse allegations. Fuld no longer works at the school and now lives in Israel.

In addition to its findings on Rosenfeld, the report found that Rabbi Sheldon Schwartz, a Judaics teacher, acted inappropriately with at least four students during the 1970s. The report said Schwartz would wrestle with boys and also draw uncomfortably close with students and have them sit on his lap.

Schwartz, according to the report, also would act as an enabler for Rosenfeld’s abuse, urging students to stay with Rosenfeld for Shabbat while frequently staying there himself as well. Two former students said they separately told Schwartz that Rosenfeld had abused them — one following a Shabbat and the other immediately after the abuse occurred.

In both cases, the former students recall Schwartz telling them that the experience was a dream. In the latter case, Schwartz played board games with the student to calm him down.  Schwartz taught at SAR until January, when he was suspended pending the investigation. He was later fired and is now suing SAR for wrongful termination.

Pam Bondi standing at a podium during a press conference | Adam Horowitz Law

Florida Attorney General Sets Up Website to Report Clergy Sexual Abuse

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has followed the lead of the Attorney General offices in other states by setting up a website for people to report past abuse by Catholic priests, clergy and other religious leaders in Florida.  The investigation will be aided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in reviewing the state’s seven Catholic Dioceses.  The link to the site can be found here:  http://myfloridalegal.com/contact.nsf/stopabuse

The website is part of Attorney General Bondi’s investigation of allegations of child sex abuse by priests from seven Catholic Dioceses in Florida: Archdiocese of Miami, Diocese of Palm Beach, Diocese of Orlando, Diocese of Venice, Diocese of St. Petersburg, Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, and Diocese of St. Augustine.   The Archdiocese of Miami issued a statement that it “welcomes these efforts.”  The Diocese of Palm Beach stated it “will fully engage with the Florida Attorney General” and is “pleased” that the Attorney General’s office is undertaking this efforts.  The Diocese of St. Augustine said it is “supportive of the investigation and the diocese will cooperate fully throughout the process.”  The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee released a statement saying it will “continue to cooperate with the statewide prosecutor in an investigation into the policies and procedures that have long been in place to provide a safe environment and to investigate allegations of misconduct with children.”

Analysis from Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is an attorney for persons who have been sexual abused in Florida by priests and other clergy.  He has represented dozens of victims and filed numerous lawsuit on behalf of victims who were sexually abused in Florida.  He hailed this announcement by the Florida Attorney General as “a long overdue step in the march toward justice for all clergy sexual abuse victims.  It is well understood by now that child sexual abuse can result in a dramatic downward spiral for victims.  But when the perpetrator is a trusted member of the clergy, it is a particularly egregious breach of trust.  All of the Catholic Dioceses in Florida have had priests who sexually abused children.  It is time for all of the Dioceses in Florida to make public a list of all the credibly accused priests.”

To file a tip, visit MyFloridaLegal.com/StopAbuse. All information shared is confidential in accordance with  Florida public record laws.  Bondi stressed that the site is for reporting past abuse only, not current cases. The site is also not limited to abuse in the Catholic church.

Attorney Adam Horowitz represents children and adults who were victims of sexual abuse by a priest, minister, rabbi or other clergymen in civil lawsuits. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault at a church or other religious organization, please contact our law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.

Cape Coral Pizza Shop Owner Harry Kaltsounis Sentenced to Jail for Child Abuse of Teen Workers

Harry Kaltsounis, the owner of Cape Coral’s Pizza Depot, has pleaded to guilty to charged that he sexually abused two underage employees at his pizza shop.  According to the Lee County State Attorney’s Office, Kaltsounis, 62, pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse and one count of battery for actions against two teenage girls who worked for him in 2017.  On October 1, 2018, Kaltsounis was sentenced to one year in Lee County Jail and 48 months of probation.

Kaltsounis owned Pizza Depot on SW Pine Island Road in Cape Coral.  The restaurant is now under new management.   According to the police records, Kaltsounis harassed the girls during their summer job by rubbing against them, requiring them to wear very short shorts, kissing them, groping their vaginal area over their clothing, and embarrassing them in front of other employees.

Attorney Adam Horowitz has many years of experience representing minors who were subjected to sexual abuse. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted in the workplace or anywhere else, it is important to have experienced legal counsel. Please call attorney Adam Horowitz at (954) 641-2100 or send an e-mail at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com.

 

Twins Gymnastics Coral Springs

Five Girls Accuse Man at Twins Gymnastics in Coral Springs of Molestation

Five girls between the ages of 7 and 10 who were enrolled atTwins Gymnastics in Coral Springs have accused the gym owners’ brother, Leonardo Suarez Alvarez, of molestation over a two year period.  Twins Gymnastics is owned by twin sisters Maria Elena and Maria del Carmen Suarez.  The police reports stated that Leonardo Suarez Alvarez volunteered at the gym.  He would reportedly clean the gym and also drive the kids to classes at the gym.

Suarez Alvarez was arrested on September 27 on five charges of lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under age 12.   He is being held in Broward County without bond as he is a citizen of Ecuador and prosecutors argued he is a flight risk.  The arrest report details similar allegations by all of the girls involving Alvarez touching their breasts over the clothing.   The reports states that a 10-year-old girl told Coral Springs detectives she reported the incidents involving the touching of the breast and vaginal area to “Ms. Maria,” one of the owners, and Maria told her she would tell her brother to stop.  However, the girl told police that Suarez Alvarez continued to touch her inappropriately and she witnessed him inappropriately touching other girls, as well.

Leonardo Suarez Alvarez is 52 years old and lives in Tamarac.  Twins Gymnastics is located at 1297 North University Drive in Coral Springs. According to the gym’s website (take down as of this date), it provide kids a “safe location” to “hang out after school.”

Like any other business, a gym is responsible for exercising care to protects the children under its supervision and must use due care in the retention and supervision of employees.  If the facts are that Twins Gymnastics allowed a volunteer to remain working at the gym after receiving a sexual misconduct complaint from a minor, an investigation in to whether Twins Gymnastics exercised adequate supervisions is certainly warranted.

Horowitz Law represents children who were sexually abused in connection with their participation in youth athletics.  If you or a loved one was sexually abused, raped or sexually molested by a youth coach, team leader, team administrator or sports team member, contact our law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com for a free consultation.

Catholic Church in Pennsylvania Supports Compensation Payments to Sex Abuse Victims

The Bishops of all the Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania released a statement on September 22 announcing support for a compensation fund for payments to be made to people who were victims of sexual abuse by a priest belonging to Dioceses in Pennsylvania.  At the same time, the legislature in Pennsylvania may be considering legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims.  Contact attorney Adam Horowitz today to determine whether you may be eligible for compensation in either a lawsuit or through a compensation fund.

Legislation pending in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives would temporarily waive the civil statute of limitations for child sexual-abuse claims, opening a two-year window for lawsuits that were previously time-barred.  Nine other states have enacted similar measures, giving victims with expired claims one or more additional years to sue. Those laws allowed thousands of claims to proceed, and led to hundreds of millions of dollars in payouts. The grand-jury report urged Pennsylvania to join those states, saying the legal deadlines imposed on older victims were “a sham.”  In Pennsylvania, anyone sexually abused as a child has until the age of 30 to bring a civil action, under a 2002 law that wasn’t retroactive. The statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions is longer, expiring when the victim turns 50.

The compensation plans, if they are implemented, are designed to compensate victims of child sexual abuse by clergy of the Pennsyvania.  Similar programs were operation in the Archdiocese of New York, Diocese of Brooklyn, Diocese of Rockville Centre, Diocese of Buffalo, Diocese of Rochester, and Diocese of Ogdensburg.  Since that time, dozens of victims dating back to the 1950’s have submitted claims.  In certain cases, the claims process may involve gathering church sacrament records, school records, counseling/therapy records, or photographs to support your claim. For that reason, it is critical you begin assembling these records and do not wait until close to the deadline to submit your claim.  It is also essential that you hire an attorney who has handled cases involving compensation program with the church

Notably, Pennsylvania is also home to many Catholic Religious Order including the following:  Augustinian Frias, Carmelites, Passionists, Capuchin Friars, Benedictines, Barnabites, and Spiritans.  It remains to be seen what, if anything, the Catholic Religious Orders will do to address the sexual misconduct claims that may be brought in Pennsylvania against Religious Orders.

Sexual abuse attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in handling claims on behalf of victims of clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania.  If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual abuse by any priest or clergymen affiliated with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Diocese of Pittsburgh, Diocese of Allentown, Diocese of Allentown-Johnstown, Diocese of Erie, Diocese of Greensburg, and Diocese of Scranton, please e-mail attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100 to discuss your claim against the church in Pennsylvania and learn if you are eligible to file a lawsuit or seek monetary compensation through a fund.   Attorney Adam Horowitz offers confidential, free evaluations of your sexual abuse claim involving priests and clergy of priest in Pennsylvania.

Hollywood Police: Ben Gamla Charter High School Teacher Had Sex With 15 Year Old Student

Roman Jose Fondon Jr., a substitute teacher at Ben Gamla Charter High School, is facing sexual battery charges because he allegedly had sex with a 15-year-old student  in the parking lot of Aventura Mall, on the roof of the girl’s condo, in his car and in an art classroom at the school.  The abuse was discovered when the girl’s mother found her diary, in which she detailed the sexual contact.  According to law enforcement records, Fondon and the girl also exchanged naked pictures of each other via social media. Five sexual encounters are alleged to have occurred between February 26 and April 30, 2018.

Ben Gamla was the first Hebrew-English Charter School in the United States. The school opened in 2007 and has since expanded to other locations.  Roman Fondon, age 28, is a former Florida International University pitcher who played for the Panthers from 2009-12. He finished his career with a 24-19 record and a 4.38 ERA, striking out 226 batters.

Due to the nature and severity of this crime and the position of authority held by the suspect over his victim, the Hollywood Police Department is requesting anyone who may have been victimized or has any information pertaining to the incident, to contact the Hollywood Police Department.

We commend this child for having the courage to report her teacher.  We look forward to an investigation to determine if there were signs or warnings to school administrators about the sexual contact that was occurring.  Rarely is a student molested in school without warning. Sexual predators know they have time to “groom” their victims, to slowly gain their trust, until the sexual contact occurs, almost as if part of a natural progression. Abuse in schools can occur at any age, from pre-kindergarten through college.

If someone you know has been a victim of childhood sexual abuse at a school, contact our law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com 

Florence Fruehan sexual doctor

Two Misdemeanor Battery Charges Filed Against Former Palm Coast Doctor Florence Fruehan

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has filed two misdemeanor criminal charges against former doctor Florence Freuhan in connection with inappropriately touching two female clients.  At least five women in all have reported that their doctor, Florence Fruehan, made inappropriate and unwanted sexual contact with them.  The five women range in age from 39 to 74.  The criminal statute of limitations expired on the other claims for which he was not charged.

Previously, Palm Coast doctor Florence Fruehan had agreed to quit practicing medicine and relinquish his medical license as part of a disciplinary agreement with the Florida Department of Health.  The agreement was made after Dr. Fruehan’s license was restricted after he was accused of sexual misconduct by the Department.  Fruehan remains under criminal investigation by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office following multiple claims of sexual misconduct with female clients.  Dr. Fruehan had been licensed as an osteopathic physician in Florida since 1987.

The agreement specifies that Fruehan surrendering his license “shall be construed as disciplinary action against [his] license” pursuant to Florida law. “As with any disciplinary action, this relinquishment will be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank as disciplinary action. Licensing authorities in other states may impose discipline in their jurisdiction based on discipline taken in Florida.”

The Department of Health action was based on allegations by one of Dr. Fruehan’s patients, a 54-year-old Palm Coast woman identified as “J.M.”  She reports she was seen by Dr. Fruehan and treated for epilepsy for the past two years. During a May 24, 2018 visit, she said Dr. Fruehan led her into an exam room after she told him she was due for a mammogram and groped both of her breasts through her blouse and bra.  Earlier in the visit, Dr. Fruehan had learned that J.M.. recently became a widow.

Dr. Florence Fruehan was previously charged with sexual battery in May 2006 after a 26-year-old Palm Coast woman accused him of touching her inappropriately during an exam while her husband was in the room.  Flagler County courthouse records also indicate that  Dr.. Fruehan was the subject of two arrests for misdemeanor battery–on June 23, 1995, and  on Jan. 16, 1996. The charges were all dropped.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who was a patient of Dr. Fruehan and feels that they had an inappropriate experience to call them at (386) 313-4911.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted by a physician or at a doctor’s office or hospital, it is important to have a lawyer experienced in these matters. We are experienced in handling cases involving sexual assault by doctors and other medical personnelIf you have a been a victim of sexual assault by a doctor in a hospital or medical office, or if you know someone who has, please contact our law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com 

 

Berhane Tafari Oliver

Sexual Battery Charge Filed Against Boynton Beach Massage Therapist

Boynton Beach Massage therapist Berhane Oliver has been criminally charged with sexual battery in connection with unwanted sexual contact he allegedly made with a female client at Healing Hands of Judah during a scheduled 90-minute massage on September 5, 2018.   According to Boynton Beach Police Department records, Berhane Oliver put his hand in his client’s underwear and touched her vaginal area.  He then allegedly penetrated her vagina with his fingers.  The alleged victim told police she immediately told Oliver he was being inappropriate at which time he stopped and apologized.

On September 11, during a control call between the alleged victim and the massage therapist that was recorded by law enforcement, Berhane Oliver admitted to his client that he inappropriately placed his fingers in her vagina.  He also apologized and said he misunderstood what she wanted.  Oliver made a similar admission to police later that same day and even authored an apology letter to the client.

Berhane Oliver, age 38, has been licensed as a massage therapist since 2011.  Healing Hands of Judah is located at 112 South Federal Highway in Boynton Beach.

This is not the first time Behane Oliver has been in trouble with the law.  In July 2015, Berhane Oliver pleaded no contest in Broward County, Florida, to Touch or Strike/Battery/Domestic Violence, a misdemeanor.  In that incident, he was accused of strangling the mother of his two children while on top of her during a domestic altercation while stating “You are not going to take me away from my kids.”  The alleged victim told police she feared for her life.  Oliver was disciplined and fined by the Florida Department of Health in May 2018 for failing to report his 2015 plea agreement.  In addition, the Florida Department of Health recently suspended Oliver’s massage therapist license because he allegedly was not paying his child-support obligations.

Attorney Adam Horowitz has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims against massage therapists on behalf of clients who were inappropriately touched in Florida.  A massage therapist is never permitted to have sexual contact with a client.  If you have a been a victim of sexual assault or sexual battery during a massage at a spa or any location, or if you know someone who has, please contact our law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz  at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com

Military Service Tolls The Time for Crime Victims to File Lawsuits

Most state and federal jurisdiction have time limits, known as statutes of limitations, within which a crime victim must file a civil lawsuit or else the claim is forever barred and will be dismissed as untimely.  But if you are or were a servicemember, your should know about an important statute that protects your rights.

In the case of child sexual abuse, numerous states have begun expanding the statute of limitations for such claims in recognition that the nature of the crime and the devastating effects of child sexual abuse often cause psychological and emotional injuries which render an abuse victim unable or unwilling to come forward with a civil claim at an earlier date. Nevertheless, we often encounter child sex abuse victims from various jurisdictions who contact our office after the expiration of the statute of limitations on their civil claims.

There is one little-used federal statute that may be of use to crime victims to avoid the effect of the statute of limitations deadline. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 App. U.S.C. Section 526(a) provides that the statute of limitations for a civil lawsuit to be brought by any current or former servicemember is tolled for the entire length of a servicemember’s military service.  The federal statute provides as follows:

(a) Tolling of statutes of limitation during military service. The period of a servicemember’s military service may not be included in computing any period limited by law, regulation, or order for the bringing of any action or proceeding in a court, or in any board, bureau, commission, department, or other agency of a State (or political subdivision of a State) or the United States by or against the servicemember or the servicemember’s heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns.

The definitions section of the statute clarifies that “military service” means active duty or any period during which a servicemember is absent from duty on account of sickness, wounds, leave or other lawful cause. See Section 511 (2)(A). The phrase “period of military service” means the period beginning on the date of which a servicemember enters military service and ending on the date on which the servicememeber is released from military service. Perhaps most importantly, the statute encompasses claims brought in any state or federal court. Section 512(a).

In addition, the statute applies to claims which arose both before and during the period of military service. Although this statute is often cited to prevent default judgments being entered against servicemembers, it is equally applicable when the servicemember is the victim of a crime. Therefore, even if you were sexually abused as a child decades ago, your claim may not be barred by the statute of limitations due to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act if you were on duty in the military for a lengthy period of time.

Unfortunately, this statute is unknown by many members of our military and even many attorneys. If you were ever in the active duty in the military and have been the victim of a crime that for which you did not previously seek civil relief, do not assume that the statute of limitations expired. You should instead confer with an experienced attorney who can evaluate whether the time you spent in the military will operate to toll the statute of limitations on your claim.

Our attorneys are experienced in handling lawsuits on behalf of persons who serve in the United State military and we have litigated the issue of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to successfully defeat a statute of limitations defense in sexual abuse case. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual abuse and served in the military, please contact our law firm at 954-641-2100 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse attorney Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com

The Hidden Danger of Sexual Assault on a Cruise Ship

Behind all the fun of cruise ship vacation, there is a danger lurking aboard these vessels which cruise lines do not advertise and passengers tend not think about – sexual assault. The rate of incidents of sexual assault and rape claims on cruise ships – by crew members, entertainers or by other passengers – is much higher that most people think. The combination of late night activity, private bedrooms, close quarters, and possibly alcohol consumption fuels an environment that creates a dangerous risk of sexual assault. Although cruise ships have only begun to publicly release statistics on these types of crimes, there have been hundreds of documented incidents of alleged rape and sexual assault aboard cruise ships since 2010 alone.

You do not forfeit your rights to be in a safe environment when you board a cruise ship. Indeed, it is the cruise line’s responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of their passengers. Cruise companies have a legal duty to provide a safe environment for their passengers and the failure to do so may entitle the injured party to compensation. Furthermore, when a crime is committed by a cruise ship employee or agent, the company is responsible. Our attorneys are experienced in handling cases involving sexual assault on a cruise ship.

Sexual assaults on cruise ships can be particularly frightening and traumatic because the victims are often in middle of the ocean with nowhere to go or near a foreign county with unfamilar laws. Moreover, there may be no local police department and the victim is confused as to whom to report the crime. A cruise ship (which may resemble a small city in population size) typically hires security personnel, but they do not necessarily have a law enforcement background, and you cannot assume that ship personnel will collect evidence to support your case. The security guards are not independent.  They are employees of the cruise ships, not deputized law enforcement officials with the skill and responsibility to investigate crimes. Our lawyers have handled all of these circumstances and are prepared to protect your rights. Now more than ever, cruise passengers are advised to exercise extreme caution while traveling onboard a vessel and to document any incident, no matter how minor, the instant it occurs so evidence is captured and a legal claim can be brought.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted on a cruise ship, it is important to have experienced legal counsel. For instance, most passengers do not realize that by purchasing a ticket on the cruise line, they may have agreed to bring all legal claims within a short window of time (called a statute of limitations) and bring their case in a specific jurisdiction (called a venue restriction). In most circumstances, you will have unknowingly agreed to bring any claim (including a sexual assault claim against the cruise line) within just one year in the Federal Court for the Southern District of Florida or in the State Courts of Florida.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault on a cruise ship, contact our  law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to Florida sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com