Cantor Must Stand Trial on Kid-Sex Rap

New York Post/April 18, 2002

Narberth, Pa. -- A prominent New York City cantor was ordered to stand trial on child sex-assault charges yesterday after a judge heard testimony from the alleged victim.

Howard Nevison, 61, who has been free on bond since his Feb. 20 arrest, continues to work at Manhattan's Temple Emanu-El, said Ralph Jacobs, one of his four lawyers.

Nevison's 12-year-old nephew, in about 90 minutes of testimony, said the cantor had sexually assaulted him four times when he was between the ages of 3 and 7.

Two other relatives of the boy - the cantor's brother and another nephew - have been convicted of sexually assaulting him in unrelated incidents.

One is in prison; the other is on parole.

During cross-examination, Jacobs asked the boy if he was confusing Nevison with another relative, suggesting the cantor's weight had changed significantly over time.

"No, it was my Uncle Howard," the boy responded tersely.

"Let's put it this way. If my mother gained or lost 100 pounds, I would still know who it is because it's family."

Nevison faces two felony counts of indecent sexual intercourse and four misdemeanors, including assault and making threats against the boy, who is a child actor.

The cantor, whose wife of three decades attended the court session, is scheduled to be arraigned on June 13.

The couple has no children.

Nevison, cantor at Emanu-El since 1978, declined comment following the hearing.

He was arrested in February at his West 70th Street apartment.

At the time, investigators in Pennsylvania said claims of abuse first came to their attention in 1998. But Montgomery County DA Bruce Castor said cops didn't pursue the case at the time because the boy was "scared to death."

Castor has described the allegations against the cantor as "very ugly."

Officials at the Fifth Avenue synagogue, the city's largest, have issued a statement that Nevison is considered innocent until proven guilty.

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