Marc Gafni molested 13-year-old girl in 1980, Child Victim’s Act lawsuit says
For years, a New York woman could do nothing but watch helplessly as the New Age author she says molested her as a child admitted and defended his nauseating conduct to Dr. Phil and The New York Times — until Wednesday, when she sued him in Manhattan Supreme Court, thanks to the new Child Victims Act.
Sara Kabakov claims popular New Age thinker Marc Gafni — born Marc Winiarz — repeatedly sexually assaulted her over a nine-month period beginning in 1980 when she was 13 and he was a 19-year-old Yeshiva University student, according to the lawsuit.
She is suing under New York’s Child Victims Act, which opened a one-year window beginning in August to revive sexual abuse claims that would normally be time-barred.
The allegations first cropped up in a 2004 Jewish Week article, in which a woman anonymously said she was molested by Gafni in 1980 when she was 13.
Gafni, now 59 and a former Orthodox rabbi, was quoted in a 2015 New York Times profile as saying about the claims: “She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.”
Kabakov shared her story with the Forward in 2016, claiming Gafni would sneak into her bedroom at night, wake her up and grope her.
“I remember saying ‘No!’ over and over again,” she told the outlet at the time. “No one had talked to me about sexual abuse, but I remember knowing intuitively, with every cell of my body, that this was wrong.”
In a January 2018 appearance on the “Dr. Phil” show, he “explained” he was “madly in love with Sara.”
“There was never any sense whatsoever… that there was any sense of coercion,” he claimed.
Another woman, Judy Mitzner, has alleged that Gafni touched her under her nightgown against her will when she was 16 and staying with him and his wife. The then-24-year-old rabbi, she alleged, forced her to masturbate him.
He then threatened that he would “destroy” her if she told anyone, she told The Post in 2006.
No charges were filed in either case.
Gafni has claimed Mitzner initiated the affair — something she denies.
Mitzner sued him under the Child Victims Act in August, according to the Forward.
Gafni moved to Israel in 1988, where he became a popular rabbi and briefly had his own TV show. In 2000, he started a community focused on mysticism, but lost it in 2006 after claims of sexual and emotional abuse.
He now appears to live in Utah, where he runs a spiritual think tank called the Center for Integral Wisdom, whose followers include John Mackey, the co-founder of Whole Foods, according to Gafni’s website.
A statement on the organization’s website says that Gafni is “under attack from certain quarters of the religious and spirituality worlds” and that “we fully trust that the claims of sexual harassment and abuse are false, and that other claims against him are maliciously distorted.”
He didn’t immediately return a phone call on Wednesday.
Yeshiva University, which is also named in the complaint, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Kabakov’s attorney, Jordan Merson of Merson Law, said the Child Victims Act is allowing his client and others like her to “be able to get justice through the New York civil justice system for all that they have suffered.”
“Today, Ms. Kabakov can seek redress for the sexual abuse that she endured as a child,” Merson said.
Find out more about Marc Gafni through this wikipedia article.
Original article found here.