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New York Cantor Charged with Abuse

February 20, 2002

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) _ The cantor at New York City’s largest Reform synagogue was arrested early Wednesday on charges that he sexually abused a nephew, a prosecutor said.

Howard Nevison, 61, of Congregation Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, was arrested at his New York apartment, said Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor.

Police in Lower Merion, a suburb of Philadelphia, charged Nevison with participating in sexual attacks on the boy from 1993 to 1997 while the boy was 3 to 7 years old.

Investigators said they are working with other, adult relatives of the boy who alleged they were also molested by Nevison when they were children.

Two other family members were previously convicted of molesting the victim. Lawrence Nevison, 55, who is Howard Nevison’s brother and an uncle of the victim, and Lawrence Nevison’s son, Stewart, 30, who lived with the victim’s family for a time, molested the boy in separate incidents.

Castor said prosecutors filed papers in a New York court claiming that Howard Nevison had not previously been charged in the case because the boy was so afraid that investigators doubted he would be able to testify against the cantor.

``We allege that Howard Nevison was the most violent of the three defendants, and that the child was extremely fearful of him, and his mother only informed us in October of last year that the boy was able to testify,″ Castor said.

The complaint alleges that the cantor molested the boy during visits to the family’s home. Prosecutors said medical records show the boy was treated for injuries consistent with sexual abuse.

No one answered calls seeking comment Wednesday morning from representatives of Congregation Emanu-El. A cantor leads a congregation in song, while the rabbi is the spiritual leader.

Castor said he would seek to have Nevison extradited to Pennsylvania.

Lawrence Nevison was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison after a trial in June 2000 in which he was convicted of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and corruption of a minor.

Stewart Nevison pleaded guilty in November 2000 to two counts of aggravated indecent assault and corruption of minors for assaults involving both the boy and his younger sister. He was sentenced to 11 to 23 months in prison and is currently on parole, according to Castor’s office.

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