Temple member faces sex charges

The Las Vegas Sun/July 25, 2002
By Kim Smith

A member of a local Jewish temple will face three felony charges alleging he tried to rape a fellow temple member, according to the Clark County District Attorney's Office.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Doug Herndon said Michael Segelstein , 44, will be arraigned August 22nd on one count each of attempted sexual assault, battery with intent to commit sexual assault and open and gross lewdness.

Segelstein and the 46-year-old alleged victim both attended the Chabad of Las Vegas and the Temple Beth Sholom in April 2001, Sgt. Russell Shoemaker of Metro's sexual assault unit said.

The incident is alleged to have taken place that month in the parking lot of the Temple Beth Sholom.

Segelstein may have been a cantor at the Chabad, Shoemaker said. A cantor serves as the musical voice of a Jewish congregation. "According to Rabbi (Menachem) Harlig, no. According to the victim, yes," Shoemaker said.

Court documents state that the alleged victim told police that Segelstein accosted her as she was leaving the temple on April 4, 2001. She said he pushed her up against the car and she fell while trying to escape. Segelstein is alleged to have kissed and groped her against her wishes, telling her in crude language he wanted to have sex with her.

"Due to her religious beliefs, (the woman) went to her rabbi, Rabbi Harlig, to report this incident," the court document states. "(The woman) is an Orthodox Jew. (The woman) says that Orthodox Jews are encouraged to keep matters pertaining to other Jews within the Jewish community."

The alleged victim told police that Segelstein apologized for his behavior, but she took the matter to the Chabad's national headquarters in New York.

"Apparently she wasn't satisfied with the resolution," because she reported the incident to Metro in April 2002, Shoemaker said.

The alleged victim could not be reached for comment. Segelstein and his attorney, Jeffrey Shaner, did not immediately return phone calls. Harlig could not be reached for comment either.

According to court documents, Harlig and Segelstein declined to speak with police when they were contacted in May, referring all calls to Shaner.

Harlig did eventually speak with police, Shoemaker said. "Rabbi Harlig, once he understood the nature of our investigation, cooperated fully," Shoemaker said. "I believe he initially felt we were investigating something that had already been investigated and resolved by the church."

Segelstein posted $16,000 bail after spending one night in the Clark County Detention Center, Shoemaker said.

Segelstein is the second religious figure in the Las Vegas area to have sex-related charges filed against him in recent months.

The Rev. Mark Roberts faces two felony counts and seven gross misdemeanor counts in connection with allegations made by five young men who claim they were sexually and physically abused by the Catholic priest over a five-year period.

Roberts, who has been suspended from St. Peter the Apostle Church, is scheduled for trial May 19.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.