NEW YORK CITY — A prominent Hasidic rabbi has been charged with making death threats against a 22-year-old woman to keep her
from testifying that her father raped her as a child.
Rabbi Bernard Freilich, 47, allegedly went to the woman's home earlier this year and told her he "would teach her a lesson and send her to the cemetery" if she took the stand, court papers said. A grand jury indicted Freilich on felony charges of witness-tampering, witness intimidation, and harassment. If convicted, he would face up to 4 years in prison.
Freilich had pleaded not guilty in May to misdemeanor charges in the same case. His lawyer said he will enter the same plea when he's arraigned on the more serious charges next month. The attorney described his client as a community leader who prides himself on his connections to law enforcement. Before he was first charged, Freilich had been a special assistant to a superintendent in the New York State Police.
The lawyer said Freilich does not know his accuser, whose name was not released. But prosecutors have said the rabbi and the woman's father are close friends. The father was charged in Feb. with first-degree rape, incest, sex abuse, and harassment in the pending criminal case. He was arrested again on April 22 after allegedly violating an order of protection by pounding on his daughter's door and warning her it would be her last day unless she withdrew her accusations.
Prosecutors say that three days later — with the daughter about to testify before a grand jury — Freilich went to her home and threatened her; allegedly repeating the threats the next day. Another Borough Park man also has been charged with trying to get the woman to drop the charges
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