By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Two young men embraced in the hallway outside a courtroom in Trenton late Friday afternoon, their paths brought together and their lives scarred by a man they knew as rabbi but who had sexually exploited them.
These were the victims of Menachem A. Chinn, an East Windsor resident who was sentenced on two accusations of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child that he had pleaded guilty to July 7. His deal with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office called for him to get two five-year suspended prison terms, meaning he will not go to prison, lifetime parole supervision and be required to register as a Megan’s Law sex offender.
The punishment did not seem to fit the crime in the eyes of the families of the two men.
The mother of one of them, in her remarks to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Peter E. Warshaw, said that in a “perfect world,” Chinn would go to prison for the “rest of his life.” Her son said in court that he was “disillusioned” with the criminal justice system.
Assistant Mercer County Prosecutor Renee Robeson sought to address that issue, and noted the difficulty in cases like these where there is no DNA evidence or witnesses and there is a “delayed disclosure.” In both cases, the crimes took place in a span from 2010 to 2012, although one of the victims contended he was victimized as far back as 2005.
Even Warshaw took the step of defending authorities’ handling of the case by saying the Prosecutor’s Office “knew what it was doing.”
Chinn, 40, sat silently in between his two lawyers — declining an opportunity to say something when Warshaw gave him a chance to speak. The judge took note of his silence, and even put into the official record of the proceeding that Chinn had sat there “unflinching” and “unmoving.”
“He served himself, he served nobody else,” Warshaw said from the bench. “He destroyed lives and moved on.”
Authorities had alleged that Chinn, a former teacher at the Shalom Torah Academy, had taken advantage of the two men when they were under the age of 13.
Originally charged in April in a case involving one of the victims, Chinn faced additional charges when the second victim came forward.
One of the men, addressing the judge during sentencing, spoke of being a “kid when this nightmare happened.” He told that Warshaw that, in 2005, he was a middle-schooler at the Shalom Torah Academy and that Chinn was his Judaic studies rabbi.
In a voice that never wavered, he told of how Chinn had wanted the boy to “massage” him and how he would seek to be the first back from recess and have to get under Chinn’s desk so no one would see him. He described other acts, including rape, over a 12-year-period. At one point, the man’s mother began to weep.
“I know this is only the beginning of a long road of healing,” he told the judge.
The judge ordered that Chinn’s passport be held by parole authorities. Chinn is a native of Israel, but his parents live in Canada, the judge said. He has lived in the United States for 19 years, 18 of which have been in New Jersey. He is the married father of six children.
Lawyers for the two victims were in court watching the proceeding, although it was not immediately known if the victims intend to sue Chinn or anyone else.
Chinn’s sentencing originally was scheduled for Friday morning, but it was put off to accommodate one of the victims and his family. The case finally was heard in the afternoon and ended around 4 p.m. The sun would be setting, meaning a new day would be starting, per Jewish law.
The judge would not make any allowances for the Sabbath, and ordered that Chinn report immediately to parole supervision. It was unclear how Chinn, an Orthodox Jew, got home from court.
As he left the courtroom to catch an elevator, a woman called out, “Shame on you.”
By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer