TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — The 12-year-old boy and his rabbi father were driving from the boy's therapist appointment to their Lakewood, N.J., home when the child decided to confide in his father.
The boy said he was sexually abused by his former camp counselor, a man he told people was his best friend, the father said.
"He said that his counselor, Yosef Kolko, sexually abused him," the father testified Thursday.
Kolko, a former yeshiva teacher, is on trial on charges that he sexually abused the socially awkward boy whose family members, prosecutors say, were ostracized by their Orthodox Jewish community for taking the allegations to civil authorities.
Kolko, 39, met the boy in 2007 at religious school-run summer camp in Lakewood where he was a counselor. The boy was 11 at the time, and authorities say the abuse continued until early 2009.
Kolko has denied the charges, which include sexual assault and child endangerment.
The morning after the boy said he was abused in February 2009, the father said he called Kolko. The two met and the father told Kolko he needed to attend therapy and stop working with children. The father wanted to bring the matter to a group of rabbis who had "experience dealing with these issues," he said, and did not intend to make the allegations public. The father recorded the conversation at his wife's urging.
Kolko did not dispute the allegations, the father said. At one point, Kolko told the father he had nothing to say to him, which the father took as an admission as guilt, something Kolko's lawyer disputed.
Later, the father and Kolko went to the home of a prominent Lakewood rabbi, where the father said Kolko was contrite and looked "close to tears." The father said the rabbi took the allegations seriously.
The Associated Press generally does not identify accusers in sex-crime cases and is not naming the father to protect the son's identity.
The boy's father wanted a rabbinical court to deal with the matter. After a few months, he was unhappy with how the case was being handled and that Kolko was not following his recommendations and was still teaching. After hearing Kolko was planning to return to the summer camp, the father called the head of the camp and Kolko, who told him to talk to a Brooklyn rabbi.