A respected Jewish teacher skipped bail and fled to Israel using a false passport after being charged with sexual offences against two teenage girls, a court heard on Tuesday.
Father-of-10 Todros Grynhaus, 50, denies five counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault.
On the first day of a retrial at Manchester Crown Court, the jury were told that Mr Grynhaus, a member of the Charedi community in Salford and the son of a rabbi, had admitted molesting a girl of 14 in a hotel jacuzzi.
The admission was made to his cousin, a rabbi in the strictly Orthodox community in Gateshead, following a meeting where Mr Grynhaus was confronted with the sexual abuse allegations.
The court heard that Mr Grynhaus told his cousin that he had abused two girls, admitting that “demons were going through him at the time”. But, he said, it was now behind him, with the offences alleged to have taken place around five years earlier.
With no formal action taken, one of the alleged victims decided to contact police in November 2012 and Mr Grynhaus was charged with five counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault against two girls when they were aged around 14 and 15.
But after he appeared in court and was granted bail, he fled to Israel using a false passport and was then held in Israeli custody when his fraud was unmasked, the court heard.
The jury heard he then claimed to be from Guinea and produced more false identity papers but was eventually returned to the UK and remanded in custody.
Prosecuting, Alistair Webster QC said: “The relevance of what I have just told you is this: when assessing what he puts forward, you are entitled to know that this is a man who was quite prepared to go to some lengths to deceive both UK and Israeli authorities. What does that tell you about his reliability and credibility?”
The jury were earlier told the case would concern a community “of which they may know little”.
Opening the case, Mr Webster added: “Some members of this sect go a long way to exclude many modern traits from their world. For example, their children are not normally allowed access to the television, radio, newspapers or the internet.
“The children spend much time on religious education. It is a very different world from that in which many of us operate. It is one in relation to which, as the evidence develops, you may detect tensions about what is, or is not, acceptable behaviour.
“What we are concerned with, however, is not the niceties of particular doctrines or expectations within that community. We are concerned with what is unlawful under any code, and certainly the laws of England – sexual attacks upon vulnerable young victims.”
The offences remained secret for years because there was a “reluctance” within the community to report matters to the police, with Mr Grynhaus later telling officers that if anybody reported alleged abuse they would “ruin their lives”.
The jury heard that the first major sexual assault occurred when Mr Grynhaus forced himself on a teenage girl.
He is accused of forcing himself on the girls and touching them inappropriately or asking them to perform sex acts upon him.
Mr Webster said: “You will have to use your understanding of the world to try to envisage how a young girl in her position would feel and react. With a respected figure, authoritative, in a society which paid him respect, what could she do?
“There was no tradition of going with such matters to the police. She had virtually no sex education.”
When the allegations surfaced, Mr Grynhaus’s cousin, along with Rabbi Shraga Faivel Zimmerman, who is a senior rabbi in Gateshead and psychologist Dr Michael Schauder lured Mr Grynhaus to a meeting and confronted him.
Mr Webster said: “Mr Grynhaus and his wife turned up and Dr Schauder put the allegations to him. He didn’t deny or protest, but simply said, in a business-like way: ‘OK, what do you want me to do?’ Dr Schauder said he should see a therapist in the UK. It was made clear that the matter would be taken further if not.”
Discussing a conversation Mr Grynhaus had with his cousin weeks later, Mr Webster added: “He said this – and you may think that this is the clearest possible admission of guilt – it was all over and he was no longer a danger.
“He admitted to messing with her sexually. He had changed his life a number of years ago. ‘You have no idea’, he told his cousin, ‘of what demons were going through me at the time.’”
When interviewed by police, Mr Grynhaus denied all the allegations and said there was a conspiracy against him and they were part of a “revenge plot”.
The trial continues.
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