Rabbi Weiss indicted; synagogue investigation finds no evidence of crimes with congregants – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted By on June 25, 2022

Rabbi Stephen Weiss was indicted on one count of attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, one count of importuning and one count of possessing criminal tools, according to the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts.

Meanwhile, his former employer, Bnai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike, completed its own investigation, finding no evidence Weiss engaged in illegal, illicit activity within its congregation.

Weiss was indicted by a grand jury June 16, according to the court docket. He was arrested April 18 after allegedly engaging in explicit online conversations with an undercover investigator posing as a 15-year-old boy. His arraignment is scheduled for July 11.

Weiss attorney, Michael Goldberg, told the Cleveland Jewish News June 20 that his client is innocent until proven guilty and has a right to that presumption. He also said the arrest is not representative of a broader pattern of behavior or his clients overall character.

I trust that the Cuyahoga County prosecutor and Bnai Jeshurun Congregation have conducted very thorough investigations of Rabbi Weiss and any misconduct that is alleged to have occurred, Goldberg said. This indictment involves an isolated incident completely outside of Rabbi Weiss professional life. Rabbi Weiss will defend himself as to any criminal conduct alleged. Rabbi Weiss has responsibly served Bnai Jeshurun and the greater Cleveland Jewish community for over 20 years and deserves and has a right to a presumption of innocence.

Weiss was senior rabbi at Bnai Jeshurun. He was suspended April 19 and resigned April 21.

Bnai Jeshurun also responded to the indictment, issuing a statement June 20 to congregants via email regarding access to counseling and the results of its investigation.

You may have seen the news of Rabbi Weisss indictment, the statement read. We know that this next step, and others that will follow in the criminal justice process, may be upsetting to you. We want to remind you that counseling services are still available in partnership with (Jewish Family Service Association) and Bellefaire JCB. To access these confidential services, please contact Carl Vondracek (216-378-3405) directly.

We also wanted to update you on the results of the independent investigation that has concluded. As you are aware, out of an abundance of caution, we engaged the law firm of Flannery/Georgalis to conduct an independent investigation of Rabbi Weisss conduct within our congregation. It is important for you to know that this investigation found no evidence of alleged criminal conduct by Rabbi Weiss within our congregational community.

Bnai Jeshurun president Rebekah Dorman declined to provide further details on the investigation, offering that Our focus remains on helping our congregation heal.

According to the criminal complaint against Weiss, he traveled to a prearranged location in Newburgh Heights to allegedly engage in sexual activity with a purported child, after communicating on a social networking app. He was arrested on scene by law enforcement officers with the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. According to the prosecutors office, the vehicle he was driving was searched and law enforcement officers found a box of condoms, two bottles of lubricant and one bottle of erectile dysfunction medication containing one pill.

Those counts together carry a maximum of 3 years in prison, Lexi Giering, communications specialist for the prosecutors office, previously told the CJN.

Court records showed Weiss posted a $50,000 bond April 19. According to the court docket, as a condition of his jail release, he is required to wear a GPS standard monitoring device.

The arraignment date was set by the clerk of courts after the indictment was filed, Giering said.

Weiss was also suspended by the Rabbinical Assembly April 25, the harshest possible penalty short of expulsion by the international association of Conservative rabbis.

Weiss, a Pepper Pike resident, 60, was a rabbi at Bnai Jeshurun since 2001.

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Rabbi Weiss indicted; synagogue investigation finds no evidence of crimes with congregants - Cleveland Jewish News

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