MONTICELLO — A rabbinical student is a free man after a judge on Wednesday dismissed the case in which he was charged with sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy in 2011.
Sullivan County Court Judge Frank LaBuda dismissed the case against Haim Boukris because Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney Eamonn Neary was not able to provide enough evidence to prove the charges against the 29-year-old South Fallsburg resident.
“The decision is not based on the credibility of the young man or any witness,” LaBuda said. “It’s because the court was not able to find the innocence or guilt of the defendant.”
LaBuda specifically said the prosecution couldn’t nail down the date or location where the alleged acts occurred. The judge also said the prosecution’s sole witness gave contradictory testimony.
LaBuda cited a Facebook conversation the boy who alleged the abuse had with a 26-year-old friend from Israel on Nov. 14 — the night before he was scheduled to testify. The boy is now 15 years old.
In it, the teen said he doubted himself and “maybe my mind made something up.”
When the friend asked if he made up the doubt or the story about the alleged sexual assault, the response, which LaBuda slowly read, was “all of it.”
Boukris had been charged with predatory sexual assault against a child and first degree sexual abuse, both felonies.
When LaBuda read his decision, an elated Boukris rushed with a smile on his face to hug his supporters, who were crying.
LaBuda said that Boukris cannot be brought up on these charges again.
But county District Attorney James Farrell said he’s still looking at his options to appeal the decision. He said LaBuda’s dismissal of the case didn’t make sense since the judge had denied a similar motion made earlier in the trial.
If they had sufficient evidence then, Farrell said he doesn’t know why they didn’t at the end of the trial.
One of the reasons could be the teen’s Facebook conversation. But Farrell said the teen said later in the conversation “I remember it happening.”
Farrell called LaBuda’s decision “disappointing” and said he still believes what the teen told him.
“I thought (the teen) was courageous and brave,” Farrell said. “And now his family is paying for it given their treatment in the community.”
Ken Gribetz, Boukris’ New City attorney, called the accusations “nonsense,” and criticized Farrell for even prosecuting the case.
“Haim Boukris did nothing wrong,” Gribetz said. “And the district attorney’s office should have reviewed this evidence properly.”