STOUGHTON — After allegedly starting a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male two years ago, Rabbi Barry Starr paid as much as $480,000 to buy the silence of a Milton man who professed to be the teenager’s brother and who threatened to expose the relationship, according to sworn statements released Monday in Stoughton District Court.
Starr, who developed a national reputation as a leader in Conservative Judaism in his 28 years as rabbi of Temple Israel of Sharon, allegedly transferred money from the rabbi’s discretionary fund to the alleged extortionist. That man — identified in court documents as Nicholas Zemeitus, 29, of Milton — told authorities the rabbi suggested altering checks written by elderly congregants to increase their value, according to documents that police filed in court while seeking search warrants.
Rabbi Starr also sought and received tens of thousands of dollars from longtime congregants and used that money to assure the man’s continued silence, according to court documents. Many of those congregants revered the rabbi and thought of him as family, including an elderly Holocaust survivor who is now suing his former spiritual leader.
Among those approached by Rabbi Starr for money before he resigned was Arnie Freedman, the temple’s president. The rabbi told Freedman several weeks ago that he was in trouble and needed to borrow $50,000, according to the documents.
“Starr would not describe the trouble he was in,” Scott Leonard, a detective in the Sharon Police Department, wrote in his statement to the court.
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