2022 YIR: Former Atlanta Rabbi Arrested on Sex Charge
Former Ahavath Achim rabbi Stephen Weiss was arrested in April.
Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.
The arrest in suburban Cleveland of a former assistant rabbi at Ahavath Achim Synagogue for allegedly soliciting sex from a minor shocked those who knew him in Atlanta.
Rabbi Stephen Weiss, who served as an assistant rabbi at the AA synagogue from July 1990 to June 1997, had been the senior rabbi at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, in Pepper Pike, Ohio, since 2001.
Weiss, 60, was arrested April 18 by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children task force. He allegedly communicated on a social networking app with an undercover investigator posing as a 15-year-old boy and then traveled to a location in Newburgh Heights, Ohio, to meet what he thought was a teenager.
Weiss was charged with one count of attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, one count of importuning and one count of possessing criminal tools. The Cleveland Jewish News reported: “According to the prosecutor’s office, the vehicle he was driving was searched and law enforcement officers found a box of condoms and two bottles of lubricant.”
He was released April 19 after posting $50,000 bond and was required to wear a GPS location monitoring device. If convicted, the maximum sentence would be 3.5 years in prison.
B’nai Jeshurun suspended Weiss immediately following his arrest. He was suspended April 25 by the Rabbinical Assembly, the international Conservative/Masorti movement’s rabbinic body.
Weiss was indicted June 16 by a Cuyahoga County grand jury on one count of attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, one count of importuning, and one count of possessing criminal tools. He pleaded non-guilty at his arraignment in July.
In October, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office offered Weiss a plea agreement. He was given a Dec. 23 deadline to accept or reject the offer. The plea agreement would dismiss the importuning charge if he pleads guilty or no contest to the other two charges, according to the prosecutor’s office. Should the case not be resolved, a trial is scheduled for Jan. 18, 2023.
Several people connected to Weiss during his time at Ahavath Achim declined to comment. “I was on the AA board and he was an admired rabbi. There were no concerns about him personally that I was aware of,” said Sherry Frank. “This is a sad story.”