Monday, February 25, 2013

Spring Valley religious school principal slapped pupil, cops say 

The principal of a major religious school has been charged with assault, accused of slapping a 10-year-old student in the face several times.

Rabbi Meilech Spitzer was charged late last week following an investigation by the village police.

Police officials have not returned telephone calls about the arrest and have not released details of the Feb. 12 incident involving the administrator of the United Talmudical Academy, a Satmar Hasidic Jewish school on Madison Avenue.

But in a criminal complaint obtained by The Journal News, Spitzer is charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and accused of intending to physically harm the child. The complaint is signed by Spring Valley Police Detective Kevin Freeman.

Spitzer slapped the victim “numerous times on the left side of his face and left ear,” according to the complaint.

The boy’s left eye swelled up as well as the left side of his face and ear, according to the complaint. The boy also had red marks across the left side of his face and ear.

The incident had been reported by some blogs that cater to the the ultra-Orthodox community. One blog posted photographs of the boy’s face.

Spitzer, who gave the police a Brooklyn address of 147 Rutledge St., could not be reached for comment at United Talmudical Academy.

A message was left at his home on Monday with a woman who identified herself as his wife. She said she would give him the message.

Spitzer’s lawyer, James Licata, declined to comment when contacted Monday morning. Licata represents Spitzer as a private lawyer, but he has been the county chief public defender since 1993, an appointed position by the county executive.

Licata said Spitzer has not appeared in Spring Valley Justice Court. His court appearance is scheduled for April 4.

The United Talmudical Academy operates a number of schools under that name in New York City, specifically Brooklyn, and suburbs like Rockland, including Monsey and Spring Valley, for boys and girls in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Along with operating the school for hundreds of students, the academy owns a building on South Main Street, up the block from Route 59.

In April, the academy was cited by Spring Valley for doing jack-hammering an old school administration building's balcony for removal, causing an asbestos-insulated ceiling to partially collapse.

School officials filed for the permit but had not gotten approval because the Building Department still was reviewing its plans.


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