Rabbi pleads not guilty to sex abuse of boy

Gary Lieberman, 56, was arrested and charged with sexual abuse of a boy who was a student at the West Hempstead Hebrew school where he was employed as a religious teacher, police said. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Oct. 18, 2013)

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A Queens rabbi sexually abused a 10-year-old boy between November 2009 and May 2010 while teaching at a religious school in West Hempstead, according to Nassau police.

Gary Lieberman, 56, of Far Rockaway, pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree sexual abuse Friday in First District Court in Hempstead.

Lieberman is charged with abusing the victim in a second-floor learning resource room at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County on Nov. 4, 2009, and Nov. 6, 2009.

The investigation is continuing and additional charges may be filed, police said.

Lieberman warned the victim that if he reported the abuse nobody would believe him -- "because he was a rabbi," according to court papers.

Judge Joy M. Watson issued an order of protection, directing Lieberman to stay away from the victim.

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Lieberman, a sweater pulled over his face, left the courthouse after posting $100,000 cash bail without responding to questions from reporters. Lieberman's wife and an adult son attended the proceeding, according to his attorney, Alexander Novak of Cedarhurst.

Lieberman was arrested Thursday after an investigation by the police Special Victims Squad.

The alleged abuse was reported by the chairman of the school's governing board, police said.

Lieberman had been terminated by the Hempstead Avenue school on Aug. 31, 2010, according to police.

Hebrew Academy executive director Robert H. Shelly said Friday in a statement that the allegations were "recently brought to our attention."

"The school was proactive in reporting the allegation to the police, and we are continuing to cooperate with their investigation," he said.

It was not immediately clear how the alleged abuse came to light, or why Lieberman was fired. He faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted of the charges, prosecutors said. He is scheduled to return to court on Tuesday.

Anyone with information about possible additional victims is asked to contact the Special Victims Squad at 516-573-4022.

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