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Boston rabbi accused of misusing $480K in temple funds to pay off gay sex accuser

By Travis Gettys
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 12:18 EDT
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A nationally known leader in Conservative Judaism is accused of misusing funds to pay off the brother of a teen he’d engaged in a sexual relationship.

Authorities said Rabbi Barry Starr paid up to $480,000 to a Massachusetts man who threatened to reveal his 16-year-old brother’s sexual relationship with the religious leader, reported the Boston Globe.

Starr, who resigned May 6, is accused of transferring money from the rabbi’s discretionary fund set up at Temple Israel of Sharon, which he led for 28 years.

Authorities said 29-year-old Nicholas Zemeitus, of Milton, threatened to expose the rabbi’s affair with his teen brother unless Starr paid him.

Zemeitus told police the rabbi suggested he alter checks written by elderly congregants to increase their value.

Starr had sought and received thousands of dollars from congregants that he used to buy the man’s continued silence about the relationship.

Some of those congregants, including an elderly Holocaust survivor, are now suing Starr.

The temple’s president said Starr told him he was in trouble and needed to borrow $50,000, authorities said, but he did not describe the situation until pressed.

“Starr told (temple president Arnie) Freedman that he got involved in a romantic relationship with a younger man, who he met online and that the man’s older brother was now extorting money from him,” police said. “Starr said the man was threatening to make details of the romantic relationship public.”

Starr’s attorney said the rabbi was the victim of a “vicious extortioner.”

Police said the allegations support possible charges of larceny by false pretense, forgery, and forging a document.

The age of consent in Massachusetts is 16 years old.

Zemeitus told police he met the rabbi through Craigslist, and he went to Starr’s home expecting to meet a 55-year-old woman for a sexual encounter but instead found a bearded man in his 60s.
Zemetius threatened to tell Starr’s wife about the meeting, police said, and the rabbi offered to pay him $100 to keep quiet.

Court documents did not make clear how this encounter backed Zemetius’s claims that he was related to the teen involved in the alleged relationship.

[Shoving money in pocket via Shutterstock]

 
 
 
 
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