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Jewish Top 10s: Scandals

As controversy and disparagement continue to follow certain Jewish politicians and officials, we've decided to compile a list of the most infamous scandals

By: Daniel Koren
Published: August 23rd, 2013 in News » World
Scandalmakers: Anthony Weiner and Elliot Spitzer

Welcome to Jewish Top 10s, where we compile lists that highlight the best and the brightest of everything yehudi, from delicious recipes to funniest actors, to most obnoxious Jewish wedding songs.

In the wake of, seemingly, several Jewish political scandals, from Weinergate to soon-to-be ousted San Diego mayor Bob Filner, we at Shalom Life decided it's the perfect opportunity to conduct the most controversial list we've ever attempted: scandals.

Though many of the individuals we mention here won't advertise it, the following lists the most influential, and most well-known Jewish celebrities, politicians and the like that have been embroiled in mischievous, inappropriate behavior at one point or another, whether relating to sex, embezzlement, theft or anything else taboo.

So bust out the popcorn, and maybe even pour a few shots of Grey Goose for this one; it's about to get pretty steamy up in here.

HONORARY MENTIONS


SCANDAL: INSURANCE SCAM (FINANCIAL MALFEASANCE)

ACCUSED: WILLIAM RAPFOGEL

PLAINTIFF: METROPOLITAN COUNCIL ON JEWISH POVERTY

VERDICT: TERMINATED FROM POSITION AS CEO; INVESTIGATION PENDING


SCANDAL: DEFRAUDING HOLOCAUST FUNDS OF $57 MILLION

ACCUSED: 31 MEMBERS OF CLAIMS CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

PLAINTIFF: FAMILIES OF JEWISH HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS, CLAIMS CONFERENCE

VERDICT: ALL 31 MEMBERS ARRESTED AND CONVICTED OF FRAUD


SCANDAL: SEXUAL ASSAULT

ACCUSED: DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN

PLAINTIFF: NAFISSATOU DIALLO

VERDICT: CHARGES DROPPED, SETTLEMENT REACHED


SCANDAL: NAZI CONTROVERSY

ACCUSED: STEVE COHEN

PLAINTIFF: JEWISH COMMUNITY

VERDICT: APOLOGIZED FOR HIS REMARKS


SCANDAL: SEXUAL ASSAULT

ACCUSED: ANDREW GOODMAN, 85 SEX-ABUSE SUSPECTS

PLAINTIFF: PROJECT KOL TZEDEK

VERDICT: INVESTIGATION PENDING


TOP TEN

10.


SCANDAL: SEXUALLY MOLESTING A MINOR

ACCUSED: NECHEMYA WEBERMAN

PLAINTIFF: 18-YEAR-OLD GIRL (UNNAMED), JEWISH COMMUNITY

VERDICT: 103 YEARS IN PRISON

Nechemya Weberman, 54, was once a well respected religious counselor in New York's haredi community, before he was convicted of molesting a girl, beginning when she was 12 years old, and was sentenced to 103 years in prison.

Weberman worked as an unlicensed therapist in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. During which, he reportedly made a young girl lock his office door and molested her from the time was 12 to 15. The victim said in court that ‘a sad girl who wanted to live a normal life but instead was being victimized by a 50-year-old man who forced her to perform sickening acts again and again.’

Weberman was convicted at the end of 2012 on all 59 counts of child and sexual abuse. The conviction, and trial, had created a whirlwind of negative publicity on Brooklyn's ultra-orthodox community regarding its strict rules regarding attire, social interactions, and gender segregation. Despite his conviction, the court received dozens of letters in support of Weberman, describing him as a community leader and loyal father. He is currently carrying out a 103-year sentence.

9.


SCANDAL: SEXUAL HARRASMENT

ACCUSED: BOB FILNER

PLAINTIFF: 17 WOMEN, INCLUDING CITY OFFICIALS, A UNIVERSITY DEAN, AND ARMY, NAVY VETERANS

VERDICT: WILL RESIGN AS MAYOR; COURT INVESTIGATION PENDING

Bob Filner is San Diego’s 35th and current Mayor. Before that, he served as a Representative for California’s 51st congressional district from 1993-2012. He is known for being a combative member of Congress who would often deal with constituent issues himself.

However, in recent months, things have not been going smoothly for Filner. On July 11, three long-time supporters called for his resignation, basing their claims on numerous allegations that he had sexually harassed women. That same day, Filner issued a video statement where he apologized for his behaviour, and stated that he would seek help to change it. It was claimed that Filner had engaged in 'inappropriate comments, kissing, and groping'; although he denied this, instead of admitting that he had treated women poorly and occasionally intimidated them, he denied sexually harassing them.

On July 15 the three supporters held another conference, describing accounts from women who said they had been groped, forcibly kissed, and subject to sexually suggestive comments, with one supporter stating that Filner is, and was, "Tragically unsafe for any woman to be around."

As of August 21st, 18 women have claimed Filner harassed them, including a city employee, a nurse, and several members of the U.S. Army that he had come into contact with during his time as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Filner and the San Diego city council have apparently reached some sort of agreement regarding the matter, with reports emerging today that he is set to resign from office.

8.


SCANDAL: USING PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS

ACCUSED: RYAN BRAUN

PLAINTIFF: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

VERDICT: 65-GAME SUSPENSION, BRAUN HAS APOLOGIZED FOR MAKING 'MISTAKES'

Ryan Braun is a left-fielder and third baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers. His baseball nickname is 'The Hebrew Hammer'. Although he hasn’t had a Bar Mitzvah, his father is from Israel, and despite his mother not being Jewish, he identifies as a Jew and has been viewed and accepted as such. In 2011 he was the first Jewish player in half a century to win the MVP award.

In February, Braun’s name appeared in the records of Biogenesis of America, a clinic alleged to have distributed performance enhancing drugs to Major League players. The entry noted that Braun owed the clinic anywhere from $20,000 - $30,000. It did not come entirely as a shock, as Braun had appealed a Performance Enhancing Drugs charge the previous season.

In July, MLB suspended Braun for the remaining games of the season (65), and for the postseason. Braun is set to lose $3.25 million as a result, but did not appeal the suspension this time, saying that "I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions." Braun has been called a “liar” and was criticized by the media for calling the man who performed the test, Don Laurenzi Jr, an anti-Semite. This particularly angered MLB, since Braun was attacking Laurenzi’s integrity, and the integrity of the entire drug program. They considered his speech and attacks on Laurenzi detrimental to baseball. It was because of this that an additional 15 games were added to his suspension. On August 22, Braun apologized for his use of Performance Enhancing Drugs.

7.


SCANDAL: PROSTITUTION SCANDAL

ACCUSED: ELLIOT SPITZER, ASHLEY DUPRE

PLAINTIFF: THE CITY OF NEW YORK

VERDICT: RESIGNED AS GOVERNOR; CURRENT NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE

"I cannot allow for my private failings to disrupt the people's work," Elliot Spitzer said at a news conference in New York City. "Over the course of my public life, I have insisted – I believe correctly – that people take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason, I am resigning from the office of governor."

Those are the words that ended Eliot Spitzer’s term as Governor. The scandal that brought about these words involved $80,000 and multiple prostitutes.

Spitzer’s case has become something of a go-to point of mockery for political Scandals in recent years. The television program The Good Wife is inspired by it, and South Park parodied it by having the Jewish characters Gerald and Sheila Broflovski mirror Spitzer’s press conference.

That being said, some still aren’t entirely sure what happened. Spitzer had been a patron of ‘Emperors Club VIP,’ an escort service, spending $15,000 over six months on seven (or eight) prostitutes. According to reports, the actual number was closer to $80,000, with $15,000 being only from his time of Governor, indicating he had been a patron while still Attorney General.

The scandal began when Spitzer handed $10,000 to one of the prostitution ring's shell companies. His bank and the IRS believed he may have been a victim of an extortion or identity theft plot, and contacted the FBI, who suspected the money could be coming from bribes. They instead found Emperors Club VIP, charging them with violating the Mann Act.

On March 10 2008, the New York Times broke the story, with Spitzer resigning as Governor on March 12. Since the scandal, Spitzer has had a number of television jobs, and has been in the running, unfavourably, for New York Mayor alongside fellow disgraced Jewish politician Anthony Weiner.

6.


SCANDAL: SEXUAL HARASSMENT

ACCUSED: MOSHE KATSAV

PLAINTIFF: SEVEN WOMEN WHO TESTIFIED AGAINST HIM, THE STATE OF ISRAEL

VERDICT: SERVING SEVEN YEARS IN PRISON

Moshe Katsav was the eighth President of Israel and a leading member of Likud. He’s also a convicted rapist.

In 2006 Katsav complained to the Attorney General that he was being blackmailed by a female employee. This soon turned back on Katsav, as she claimed he had committed a number of sexual offences. Following this, Katsav was accused of both raping and sexually harassing up to ten women. His home was raided, and computers and documents were seized.

In September, four other women came forward with complaints against Katsav, leading the Israeli police to determine that they had sufficient evidence for an indictment. Seven women testified against Katsav with allegations that included “breach of trust, fraud, and wiretapping.” Israel’s Attorney General stated that Katsav being the victim of a plot was unlikely.

On 28 June 2007, Katsav reached a plea bargain wherein he would plead guilty to sexual harassment and indecent acts, and receive a suspended jail sentence, paying compensation to two of the victims. However, in April 2008, Katsav called off the plea bargain, believing there was not enough evidence to convict him.

It proved to be an unwise decision, as he formally indicted for rape and other sexual offences a year later. In December 2010 he was found unanimously guilty of “rape, sexual harassment, committing an indecent act while using force, harassing a witness, and obstruction of justice." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called this a “a sad day for Israel,” but claimed that the verdict showed that in Israel, “all are equal before the law, and that every woman has exclusive rights to her body.” In March 2011, Katsav was sentenced to seven years in prison and two years probation. He was ordered to pay 100,000 NIS and 25,000 NIS to two women.

Katsav arrived at Maasiyahu Prison on 7 December 2011. Before arriving he maintained his innocence in an address to journalists, and there was a large domestic, as well as foreign, media presence. It will most likely remain as the most well known scandal in Israel for years to come.

5.


SCANDAL: STATUTORY RAPE

ACCUSED: ROMAN POLANSKI

PLAINTIFF: SAMANTHA GEIMER

VERDICT: ARRESTED, FLED TO FRANCE BEFORE SENTENCING

Roman Polanski, born Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański, is a Polish-French writer, director and actor, notable for such films as Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, Macbeth, Chinatown, The Pianist, and Carnage. Polanski’s family was Jewish, and he lost both of his parents during the holocaust.

In 1968, his wife, the actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by members of the Manson Family. The event would be a watershed moment for Polanski, changing his personality from "boundless, untroubled sea of expectations and optimism" to one of "ingrained pessimism ... eternal dissatisfaction with life".

On March 10th, 1977, the 43-year-old Polanski became involved in a scandal with 13-year-old Samantha Gailey. Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

Polanski has asked Geimer’s mother if he could photograph the girl for his work with Vogue, which he was guest-editing, which she allowed. Geimer said she was uncomfortable during the shoot, during which she posed topless. She did not wish to do a second, but nonetheless agreed, taking place at Jack Nicholson’s Los Angeles home.

Geimer later testified that she and Polanski drank champagne, which she stated was part of a quaalude. She went on to say that, despite her protests, he then performed sexual acts on her. In a probation report submitted to the court, it was concluded that “the victim was not only physically mature, but willing.” Polanski entered a plea bargain, and was set to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, after which the probation officer, psychiatrist, and Geimer herself all recommended against jail time. Polanski caught wind that this would soon change, with him being sent to prison and deported. Instead, he bought a one-way ticket to England and fled the US. He moved to his native France, and has since only worked there, in Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. He has not returned to the US.

In 2009 Polanski was detained in Zurich, Switzerland in relation to the 1978 arrest warrant. However in July 2010, the Swiss court rejected the U.S. extradition request, releasing him from custody.

Polanski continues to make films and receive widespread acclaim for his body of work. Despite all of this, the scandal continues to dominate discussion of his life and work, and will likely continue to do so.

4.


SCANDAL: WEINERGATE ('SEXTING SCANDAL')

ACCUSED: ANTHONY WEINER

PLAINTIFF: SYDNEY LEATHERS, THE ENTIRE TWITTER COMMUNITY

VERDICT: RESIGNED HIS SEAT IN CONGRESS; CURRENTLY IN THE RUNNING AS THE LAUGHING STOCK OF THE NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE RACE

When embroiled in scandal, most political figures rarely have a chance to earn the trust of the public again, and often go down in history for the controversy they were involved in, and nothing else. When the history books speak of Anthony Weiner, it's unlikely his "political" practice will be even mentioned at all.

Weiner became infamous in 2011 during the famous 'sexting' scandal a.k.a. Weinergate. He used Twitter to send a few sexually suggestive images, including a few of little 'Weiner', to a 21-year-old Seattle woman. Once the images surfaced online, he spent days denying that he had posted the image, before finally admitting to sending those, and other, sexually explicit messages to women, who weren't his wife, Huma Abedin, ironically, a woman who can receive much counselling on the subject from her mentor Hilary Clinton.

Weiner resigned from Congress after this scandal, and was slowly making his way back into people's hearts during his run in the New York mayoral race. His wife had forgiven him, and it seemed some members of the public were about to as well, when, last month, more pictures and sexting screen shots were released sent, once again, under Weiner's infamous alias Carlos Danger. Weiner than admitted to 'sexting' with three more women after he left Congress, despite his claims that he had changed. Sydney Leathers, one of the women who came out publicly about Weiner, has since ridiculed him on Howard Stern, and in the form of a porno called 'Weiner and Me'.

Let's see how he does when he runs for Mayor next time.

3.


SCANDAL: MARRYING HIS ADOPTED DAUGHTER

ACCUSED: WOODY ALLEN/ SOON-YI PREVIN

PLAINTIFF: MIA FARROW

VERDICT: THE TWO ARE STILL MARRIED

Woody Allen is one of the few entertainers in the industry that was able to manage a scandal gracefully, and now, twenty years later, it's the last thing anyone thinks about when discussing the genius, albeit peculiar, Jewish comedian, director, producer, writer, actor, and, most importantly, number two on this list.

Allen began a relationship with Mia Farrow in the early 80s, and though they never married, adopted two children together, Dylan and Moshe, and had a biological child, Ronan Seamus Farrow. Allen and Farrow moved in together in a house that included Soon-Yi Farrow previn, the adopted child of Farrow and Andre Previn.

Allen became the talk of Tinsel Town when Farrow discovered he had taken nude photographs of Soon-Yi, and that he admitted to having a relationship with her. After a long public battle for the custody of their children, Farrow won custody, and Allen and Soon Yi stayed together. When their relationship began, he was 56 and she was 19.

On June 22, 2011 Reuters quoted Allen as saying, "What was the scandal? I fell in love with this girl, married her. We have been married for almost 15 years now. There was no scandal, but people refer to it all the time as a scandal and I kind of like that in a way because when I go I would like to say I had one real juicy scandal in my life."

2.


SCANDAL: MADOFF INVESTMENT SCANDAL

ACCUSED: BERNIE MADOFF

PLAINTIFF: WALL STREET

VERDICT: SERVING 150-YEAR SENTENCE WITH RESTITUTION OF $17 BILLION

Bernie Madoff, the former Chairman of NASDAQ, and founder of the Wall Street firm Bernard l. Madoff Investment Securities LCC, established in 1960, was one of the most respected, successful and seemingly legitimate businessman on Wall Street.

That is until December 2008, when it was revealed that the wealth management arm of his business was actually an elaborate Ponzi scheme, in fact, the largest financial fraud in history.

At the time of the original federal charges, Madoff said his firm had 'liabilities of approximately US$50 billion'. He plead guilty to eleven federal felonies and was ordered to pay restitution of $17 billion, and received 150 years in prison.

It was estimated that the size of the fraud he committed was approximately $64.8 billion dollars.

Madoff's brother Peter, Senior Managing Director and Chief Compliance Officer, received ten years, and his son Mark, who was employed at the firm, committed suicide exactly two years after his father's arrest.

The scandal would go down as the most elaborate business schemes of all time, and held serious repercussions for the philanthropic and business communities, which prior to, had respected Madoff as an accomplished businessman, philanthropist and community leader.

As a result of his company's financial fraud, several businesses, hospitals and organizations had to shut down including Jewish federations which lost millions of dollars as a result of Madoff's actions.

1.


SCANDAL: THE LEWINSKY SCANDAL

ACCUSED: BILL CLINTON

PLAINTIFF: MONICA LEWINSKY

VERDICT: ACQUITTED OF ALL CHARGES

And there it is. The grandfather of all scandals.

Presidential scandals are, naturally, the epitome of what a burgeoning little scandal hopes to aspire to. In the 60s it was Watergate, there wee some controversies with Reagan during the 80s, but were certainly not publicized of had a predominant affect on pop culture at the time, and then there was this, the royal scandal, one that we all continue to poke fun of today, and remember with fondness: Lewinsky.

When it came to politics, Bill Clinton could do no wrong. He was a budding candidate for the Democrats, had a strong relationship to Israel, and was attempting to close the gap between liberals and republicans. Then alas, a scandal had to soil his career, though, fortunately, not to the extent of impeachment, but still, resulting in the most famous, most ridiculed, most publicized scandal of the past fifty years. Everyone knows the story. Clinton met a 22-year-old White House intern named Monica Lewinsky, and according to her, had sexual encounters on nine separate occasions from November, 1995 to March, 1997.

She confided in a coworker about her relationship with Clinton, Linda Tripp, who would record tapes of Lewinsky speaking of the affair, and brought them to a literary agent.

The scandal first broke out on January 17th, 1998, and was the only news story that mattered, seemingly, for the next few months. Clinton denying the allegations at first, and only six months later, after Lewinsky handed the infamous stained 'blue dress' to reporters was it confirmed that they indeed had a relationship and Clinton had not been absolutely forthright about the affair.

He admitted to having an 'improper physical relationship' with Lewinsky on August 17th, 1998.

In his deposition for the Jones lawsuit, Clinton denied having "sexual relations" with Lewinsky. Based on the evidence provided by Tripp, a blue dress with Clinton's semen, Starr concluded that this sworn testimony was false and perjurious.

The Senate, however, failed to acquit him on charges of perjury, and Clinton would remain in office until 2000.

To this day, it is the most infamous political scandal of this generation.

Related articles: Scandal, Politisc, Weinergate, Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Bob Filner, Elliot Spitzer, Ryan Braun, Moshe Katsav, Winona Ryder, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen
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