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Judge Denies New Trial For Convicted New Haven Rabbi

Rabbi Daniel Greer (right) confers with his lawyer William Dow outside court in September.
Rabbi Daniel Greer (right) confers with his lawyer William Dow outside court in September.

Sentencing was delayed for prominent New Haven Rabbi Daniel Greer, convicted in a high-profile criminal trial centering around sexual abuse of a former student at his Yeshiva.

A judge denied a motion Wednesday for a new trial after his attorneys argued that local blogger Lawrence Dressler, who wrote hundreds of negative blog posts about Greer and helped prosecutors locate witnesses, acted as an “admitted agent of the state” when he allegedly harassed and attempted to intimidate the only two defense witnesses, Jean Ledbury and Thomas DeRosa. Ledbury is Greer’s longtime secretary and DeRosa is a former teacher at the Yeshiva.

Attorneys David Grudberg and William Dow claimed that Dressler’s conduct deprived Greer of his constitutional right to a fair trial and asked, at a minimum, for an evidentiary hearing, which took up most of the day’s proceedings. 

Greer, 79, was convicted in September on four counts of risk of injury to a minor after former student Eliyahu Mirlis accused him of repeatedly raping and molesting him when he was under the age of 16 and attending the Yeshiva of New Haven school in the early to mid-2000s. 

Judge Jon Alander, who presided over the September trial, heard testimony Wednesday from the two witnesses who claimed that their encounters with Dressler before the trial impacted their trial testimony. 

Dressler, who is a disbarred lawyer after being convicted of a federal felony in a mortgage fraud scheme, was called to the stand. But on the advice of his attorney John Williams, Dressler repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions that might be self-incriminating.

Since Dressler invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege, Grudberg called Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Maxine Wilensky to the stand to question her about the prosecution’s relationship with Dressler and attempted to show that Dressler was acting as an agent of the state. 

The two prosecutors in the case, Wilensky and Assistant State’s Attorney Karen Roberg, acknowledged meeting with Dressler, exchanging text messages, and having many conversations with him about witnesses for the case, but said he did not have the authority and was never asked to contact or interview any of the witnesses. 

Grudberg said the testimony from DeRosa and Ledbury showed that “because of Mr.  Dressler’s conduct, their testimony was not what it could have been and should have been. Without his harassment, without his contact, this case could have been very different.” 

But Judge Alander, listing several reasons, denied Greer’s motion for a retrial. Alander said that he did not credit the testimonies of DeRosa or Ledbury that contact with Dressler impacted their testimony in the trial in any way.

A new sentencing date was set for December 2.

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