Madonna and Ashton Kutcher’s rabbi was found liable for sexual misconduct against a follower. According to Jewish Business News, Kabbalah Centre International and Rabbi Yehuda Berg was sued for inflicting emotional distress on Jena Scaccetti.
As the report states, the rabbi was accused of pushing alcohol and drugs on Scaccetti before groping her. Scaccetti sought millions of dollars in damages in the civil lawsuit against Berg and the Kabbalah Centre. The jury awarded her $177,500 in damages.
Rabbi Berg’s celebrity followers include Madonna, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore,and Lindsey Lohan.
“Ms. Scaccetti is very happy that the jury found in her favor and awarded her damages – and is especially happy that by bringing this lawsuit she may have saved others from being victimized by Yehuda Berg,” Alain V. Bonavida, Scaccetti’s attorney, said.
The jury wants KCI to pay the woman who sued Berg $42,500 after learning that the organization negligently supervised Berg.
Scaccetti said in her testimony that she was a member of the KCI in Los Angeles for 6 years. She admitted to considering Judaism after getting out of an abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend.
The report continues that Scaccetti “accused Berg of inviting her to his mother’s apartment in 2012, plying her with alcohol and narcotic painkillers and making an unwanted sexual advance that included hugging her and fondling her leg.”
Scaccetti sued Berg and KCI in January 2014. She claims that rejected Berg made strong advances during the 4-hour visit that concluded with him calling for a cab to take her home … after he took her phone and deleted all of the text messages.
Berg testified that he offered Scaccetti a drink and some Vicodin, claiming that she complained of painful kidney stones. He added that he touched her leg to gauge if “anything intimate” might happen. The rabbi denied forcing himself on her.
Jurors did reject Scaccetti’s claim that Berg’s actions amounted to battery but they found his actions to be malicious in nature, Bonavida said.
Forward reports that Rabbi Berg, 43, is the former co-director of the Kabbalah Centre, which is a “spiritual group whose brand of Jewish mysticism has drawn many celebrity devotees,” like Madonna and Ashton Kutcher.
The jury at the Los Angeles County Superior Court Berg to be known in Hollywood as “a rabbi to the stars,” the victim’s lawyer said.
The Kabbalah Centre is a non-profit organization founded in 1965 by Berg’s late father, Philip, “a rabbi who espoused teachings rooted in metaphysical principles of Jewish belief.”