wplg logo

Charges dropped against South Florida rabbi accused of inappropriately touching male students

Rabbi Benita: ‘I’m very happy the truth came out’

A South Florida rabbi who was accused of touching the private parts of a student had the charges against him dropped.
A South Florida rabbi who was accused of touching the private parts of a student had the charges against him dropped.

MIAMI – A South Florida rabbi who was accused of touching the private parts of a student had the charges against him dropped.

Back in April, Rabbi Yosef Benita was accused of the crimes by a student at the Lubavitch Educational Center, which is located near the the Golden Glades Interchange in Miami.

An underage male student initially told police that during tutoring at the Orthodox Jewish day school, Benita touched his private parts four to five times.

“Mr. Benita was falsely arrested and spent time in jail,” said attorney Dustin Tischler.

The child also said the rabbi did the same thing to a friend.

“I knew from day one that Mr. Benita was innocent,” said Tischler.

Benita was arrested, but then attorneys for the rabbi gave authorities a recording of a Zoom call between faculty of Lubavitch Educational Center and the child, where according to prosecutors, the child said that the rabbi tickled him, but did not touch his private parts.

“It’s very hard, but I have faith in god that I didn’t do anything,” said Benita.

Faculty at the school also spoke to the other child, who said, according to a close out memo from the State Attorney’s office, “…the defendant had touched him once as he was leaving the room and was not sure if the touching was an accident as it happened in passing.”

Ultimately, prosecutors decided to drop the charges, “…based on the lack of physical evidence, one on one allegation, delayed disclosure, conflicting statements of events.”

“Safely educating our children is our absolute priority. We take these allegations very seriously and therefore self-reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families. We fully cooperated with the authorities and conducted an independent investigation of our own as well,” the Lubavitch Educational Center said in a statement. “We are gratified that no children were harmed and for the process of justice. We extend thanks to law enforcement for their diligent work as we look forward to welcoming Rabbi Yosef Benita back on campus in the fall.”


About the Author:

Reporter Rosh Lowe is covering the Surfside building collapse and other news for Local 10 News.