This was the plea entered into court record by Israel Shapiro before Judge John Miller Tuesday morning in Baltimore City Circuit Court.
Mr. Shapiro made his plea in response to charges of three counts of child sexual abuse, three counts of third degree sexual offense, three counts of fourth degree sex offenses and six counts of second degree assault. The charges were brought to court by the State’s Attorney’s Sex Offense Unit.
Unless a plea deal is made, Mr. Shapiro will appear in court for an April 1 trial.
The allegations made by plaintiffs dated back to 1987-88 and 1993-94.
Mr. Shapiro, a former bar mitzvah teacher, currently works in a local butcher shop.
An Orthodox Jew, he appeared in court wearing a gray suit and gray blue tie, but without wearing any sort of kippah or head covering. He kept his hands on his knees before rising to face the judge.
That omission of a kippah or yarmulke was noted by the plaintiff.
“When I saw him walk in without his yarmulke on, I thought, `What a hypocrite.’ He didn’t take his yarmulke off when he was molesting me. But before a judge in a court room, he doesn’t have it on,” said one of two plaintiffs.
Mr. Shapiro was represented before Judge Miller by local attorney Isaac Klein.
Mr. Shapiro was arrested and charged in early December. He is the son of the late Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro, himself the center of a BALTIMORE JEWISH TIMES investigation of a alleged sexual molestation.
Before ascending the steps to the fourth floor courtroom in the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse, one of the plaintiffs in the case, visibly emotional, said, “I’m feeling sick.”
When asked what he wanted to come from the charges, his answer was simple: “I want him to go to jail,” he said.
In the courtroom, the plaintiff, who was just a young teen when the allegations took place, held hands tightly with his wife.
In the charging documents, the plaintiffs wrote that “Israel Shapiro would shuckle [or rock back and forth] holding me against himself and leining [chanting Torah] out loud while he was feeling me up and touching me.”
At another point, the victim reported “I could feel his erection under me. I would try to get off his lap, but he’d hold me very tightly. I must have been doing something wrong. I thought it was my fault. It was very confusing me as a child. I just wanted to learn.”
On Tuesday morning, there was no doubting the serious nature of the situation. Upon entering the courthouse, visitors had to look at an electronic monitor directing them to the appropriate court room. It was like searching for one’s flight on the video departures board at the airport. But instead of departures and arrives, the board was divided into misdemeanors and felonies.
There on the felony side of the board was Mr. Shapiro. And before a courtroom of people awaiting their time with Judge Miller, Mr. Shapiro’s case was the first one called. The entire not guilty plea took only minutes.
“It’s good there’s a trial date,” said the plaintiff. “It’s a step in the right direction.”