A member of the Gateshead Orthodox community went on trial this week accused of a string of historic sex offences against a teenage boy.
Jeremy Bernstein, 37, was accused of touching the boy inappropriately and forcing him to carry out sex acts between December 1998 and December 2003.
Mr Bernstein, from Whitehall Road, Gateshead, pleaded not guilty at Newcastle Crown Court, to indecent assault with a male person of 13 years, indecency with a child aged 13 years, indecent assault with a male person of 14 years, indecent assault with a male person aged 15 years and indecency with a child aged 15 years.
He also denied two counts of indecent assault with a male person.
Anne Richardson, prosecuting, said: “The abuse started by touching the victim’s chest under his jumper while in a synagogue. This was Jeremy Bernstein trying out the victim… Nowadays we would call this grooming.
“The victim buried it deep within him and did not want to admit it to anyone, not even himself. Jeremy Bernstein is a man who knew or believed that even if the victim did speak out, he would be disbelieved.”
The court heard that the victim did not tell the police until two years after informing his wife about the alleged abuse in 2011.
Giving evidence, Mr Bernstein’s wife Melissa told the court how her husband was a “loving, caring person”.
Jonathan Goldberg QC, defending, claimed the victim invented the allegation in order to get sympathy from his wife and keep their marriage together.
He called the alleged victim “a jealous and bitter young man who has tried to ruin the life of a better man than himself. If he (Bernstein) is going to try a grope, he wouldn’t do it in a busy synagogue. Jeremy Bernstein is a deeply religious man.”
Judge John Milford told the jury: “The defence claim the victim was jealous of the success that has been enjoyed by the defendant. ”
He noted that Mr Bernstein had won an award for his contribution to life in the local Orthodox community.
The trial continued as the JC went to press.