Synagogue cantor faces sexual abuse charges

Saturday, March 9, 2002

NARBERTH, Pa. -- A longtime cantor at one of the nation's largest and most prominent Reform synagogues surrendered to authorities Friday to face charges he sexually abused his nephew.

Howard Nevison, 61, of Congregation Emanu-El in New York City, was arrested Feb. 20. He and his attorney had said they would fight extradition to Pennsylvania.

Police in Lower Merion, a Philadelphia suburb, charged Nevison with sexually assaulting his nephew on three occasions between 1993 and 1997 while the boy was 3 to 7 years old.

Nevison had been free on $100,000 bail, set by a New York judge. At a hearing Friday, District Justice Henry J. Shireson set bail at $250,000.

Nevison posted 10 percent of the sum and was released. He was ordered to give notice of any travel outside New York. The judge also ordered that Nevison's passport, now held by New York police, be turned over. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for next Friday.

Police have known about the allegations since about 1998 but did not pursue charges until the victim, who was undergoing therapy, was ready to confront the uncle, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor said.

"We were disappointed that the district attorney's office decided to revive this investigation three years after the allegations originally surfaced," said Nevison's attorney, Ralph Jacobs.

Nevison is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, simple assault and terroristic threats.

Nevison has been the cantor at the Manhattan temple since 1978. A cantor leads a congregation in song, while the rabbi is the spiritual leader. In April 1994, he became the first cantor to sing at the Vatican.

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