Evan Zauder, the Yeshiva University graduate and Modern Orthodox day school teacher who pleaded guilty in January of last year to one count each of enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, transportation, receipt, and distribution of child pornography, and possession of child pornography was sentenced Tuesday.
Zauder Gets 13 Years
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Evan Zauder, the Yeshiva University graduate and Modern Orthodox day school teacher who pleaded guilty in January of last year to one count each of enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, transportation, receipt, and distribution of child pornography, and possession of child pornography was sentenced Tuesday, YU's student newspaper, the Commentator, reported.
A spokesperson for the United States District Attorney told paper that Zauder was sentenced Tuesday to 156 months (i.e., 13 years) in Federal Prison, which is a fraction of the sentence he could have received.
Leading Modern Orthodox rabbis and laypeople, including many from Yeshiva University, wrote letters to the court before Zauder's sentencing asking for leniency for Zauder.
And, as the Commentator notes, those letters asking that Zauder be given the minimum sentence were written after it became public knowledge that Zauder had abused a child:
…The trial also revealed that on April 14, 2011, Zauder solicited sex from a male minor between the ages of 14 and 15 in a park in New Jersey and continued a relationship with the boy for several months. A text message sent by Zauder to a third party and intercepted by the FBI described Zauder “convincing Minor-1 to perform oral sex on him.”
Dr. David Pelcovitz, Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Psychology and Jewish Education at Azrieli, special assistant to YU’s President Richard Joel, and an instructor in pastoral counseling at YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, asked Judge Kaplan for the “lowest sentence permitted under the law” because of “Evan’s advanced capacity for self awareness and empathy.”
In an interview with The Commentator, Dr. Pelcovitz, who authored Child Abuse in the Jewish Community and peer reviewed publications on child physical abuse and emotional abuse, claimed that, at the time of his writing the letter, the only charge he was aware of against Zauder was child pornography use. “I would never have done this if there was a direct victim involved,” he said.
However court records show that reports of Zauder’s abuse of a minor were released in early January 2013, when Zauder plead guilty to enticement. The FBI press release related to the case was carried in multiple Jewish papers that week, while the letters in support of leniency are dated from February through April of 2013. Although the date of Dr. Pelcovitz’s letter was blacked out by the court, none of the post-trial leniency letters written in support of Zauder were dated before February 1, 2013.
“The purpose of the letter was not a clinical evaluation, it was asking that justice be tempered with mercy.” Dr. Pelcovitz, a child abuse advocate since the 1970s, told The Commentator. He urged “nuance” in this case involving his former student, arguing that “child pornography use rarely translates into physical abuse of minors [...] The letter was just saying that, maybe, Evan will respond to treatment after his jail time.”
Dr. Pelcovitz, who said prison terms for convicted possessors of child pornography were often “draconian,” hconcluded, “You have to understand that this was not arguing that he shouldn’t be punished. It’s common that people in the community argue that some of his redeeming features should be taken into account by the judge.”…
None of the letters by those affiliated with Yeshiva University acknowledged Zauder’s victims. “If there were victims I would have certainly acknowledged them,” Dr. Pelcovitz said.
FailedMessiah.com posted the letters Monday.
Zauder's direct victim(s) are not believed to be members of the Jewish community.
[Hat Tip: Sheesh.]