By Regan E. Doherty (The Associated Press)
November 19, 2007
JERUSALEM -- A man who fled the U.S. for Israel more than two decades ago amid accusations he sexually abused children while pretending to be a rabbi and psychologist appeared in court in Jerusalem _ a step toward his possible extradition.
Abraham Mondrowitz, 60, a member of the ultra-Orthodox Gur Hasidic Jewish sect, arrived in court Sunday after his arrest in Jerusalem on Friday. He is accused of abusing children while running an unlicensed private clinic in Brooklyn during the 1980s.
The father of seven fled to Israel in 1985 as New York police investigated charges against him.
The judge extended Mondrowitz's detention until Nov. 27, at which point he will decide whether Mondrowitz will remain in jail or be placed under house arrest.
Mondrowitz's attorney, David Ofek, said he plans to appeal the decision to keep him in custody.
"The state didn't take action for 25 years, so they cannot bring the case back (now)," Ofek said, adding that he has seen no medical reports indicating abuse.
The U.S. requested Mondrowitz's extradition in 1985. Israel ordered his expulsion in 1987, but it was unable to carry out the order as its extradition treaty with the U.S. did not cover sodomy.
In January this year the treaty was amended to include all crimes whose punishment is more than one year imprisonment, and two months ago the United States resubmitted the extradition request, Israeli Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen said.
Sunday's ruling followed an expose on Mondrowitz in local daily Haaretz on Thursday.
Mondrowitz grew up in Tel Aviv and in Chicago after his family moved to the United States in the 1950s, Haaretz said. In 1979, he moved to Brooklyn, where he impressed the Orthodox Jewish community when he told them he had degrees in clinical psychology and educational administration, and was an ordained rabbi, it said. He counseled children at a clinic at his home.
Patricia Kehoe, a retired NYPD detective, told Haaretz all the diplomas were fake.
In December 1984, New York police charged that on two occasions in June of that year, Mondrowitz abused a 10-year-old boy at his home.
Haaretz said that Mondrowitz was a highly influential figure in the Gur community of Brooklyn in the early 1980s. New York police suspect Mondrowitz sexually abused children brought to him as patients, Haaretz said.