The rabbi and children’s teacher from East Windsor charged with sexual assault will not be released from pretrial detention, a state judge ruled Wednesday in upholding his earlier ruling.
Menachem A. Chinn, 40, will remain in jail, locked up since his arrest April 20 on second-degree sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child charges allegedly involving a then 12-year-old boy in Chinn’s home, April 1, 2012. The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office sought to have him detained, based on new bail reform regulations that went into effect this year.
But Steven D. Altman, Chinn’s lawyer, tried to have Mercer County Superior Court Judge Peter E. Warshaw reverse his decision from April 26 to issue the detention order. After a lengthy hearing, Warshaw, sitting in Trenton, was not budging.
He said the testimony at the hearing of Rabbi Aaron Gruman, leader of East Windsor-based Toras Emes/Twin Rivers Community Synagogue and Chinn’s spiritual adviser, or the report of a psychologist who concluded it was unlikely that Chinn would commit another sexual offense if he were released, did not sway him.
He said options, like having Chinn on house arrest with electronic monitoring, would not protect the public.
“Home detention does not prevent this from happening again,” the judge said in giving his rationale.
Altman said outside court that he would appeal Warshaw’s ruling.
Chinn, born in Israel, taught at Shalom Torah Academy, a Jewish school located in Monmouth County. His LinkedIn page also lists him as a youth director.
Since Chinn’s arrest last month, a second alleged victim had come forward claiming that when he was 17, Chinn had sexually assaulted him, from July 2010 to May 2011 – although the judge, in court, indicated the time frame was from 2011 to 2012. The Prosecutor’s Office, earlier this month, announced new charges, again of second-degree sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, had been brought against Chinn.
Chinn was the victim’s teacher and “youth group religious mentor,” the Prosecutor’s Office has said.
But there may by problems with the cases.
In court, assistant Mercer County Prosecutor Renee Robeson referenced what may be a “statute of limitations” issue in the second incident. The alleged victim was 17 at the time, but state law in effect then said that endangering the welfare of a child had to involve some under the age of 16. That means the victim was too old for the offense to apply to him. Authorities are continuing to investigate that case.
Also in court, Altman also referenced a Miranda rights issue, in which he said Chinn had asked for a lawyer when he spoke to police last month, but that his request was ignored. During that interrogation with police, he gave a statement in which some of his answers put him in the time and place alleged by the first victim, Altman said.
The Miranda issue and the admissibility of the statement were not decided Wednesday. The two sides are due back before the judge June 26.
Chinn sat through the proceeding at the defense table, in his jail uniform and yarmulke. At the end of the hearing, a sheriff’s officer would not let him speak in private to Rabbi Gruman.
He is being held in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, with Altman saying he did not know why Chinn had been relocated from Mercer County.
In turning to Altman to represent him, Chinn went with an experienced defense attorney who is no stranger to high profile cases. He is the same lawyer who represented former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi in the matter involving Ravi spying on his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, who later killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in 2010.
Altman was joined at the defense table by fellow lawyer Philip Nettl, an associate in Altman’s New Brunswick law firm.