London police investigates sexual assault claims against UK capital rabbi

This is the second time sexual assault allegations have been made against Rabbi Chaim Halpern.

A photo of a traditional "blue lamp" as located outside most English police stations. This one is outside the Charing Cross Police Station of the Metropolitan Police in London. (photo credit: CANLEY/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
A photo of a traditional "blue lamp" as located outside most English police stations. This one is outside the Charing Cross Police Station of the Metropolitan Police in London.
(photo credit: CANLEY/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

London's Metropolitan police are investigating sexual assault allegations against Rabbi Chaim Halpern, who leads the Divrei Chaim synagogue in Golders Green, The Jewish Chronicle revealed on Thursday.

The 21-year-old woman who accused 64-year-old Halpern of sexual assault claimed that he touched her inappropriately and constantly called her to try to persuade her to have sex with him.

"He tricked me into trusting him by acting charming, nice and likable, giving attention and compliments," the unnamed accuser told the Chronicle.

"He invests time into communication such as phone calls and emails, but it’s all just grooming."

Rabbi Chaim Halpern's accuser

The woman now lives in Israel, and she and her therapist told the Chronicle that they have hours of phone recordings to back up the claims.

 A deserted street in Golders Green. (credit: ROBERT HERSOWITZ) A deserted street in Golders Green. (credit: ROBERT HERSOWITZ)

When the accuser initially made her claims in November, the UK's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis made a statement against abusers who “manipulate a culture of respect to serve their own depraved criminality” and urged anyone who has been abused to step forward and speak out.

Second time Halpern is accused of sexual assault

This isn't the first time Halpern has been accused of sexual assault. In 2012, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and perverting the course of justice after women who had met with him for marriage counseling and spiritual guidance accused him of assaulting them, but the police did not have enough evidence to charge him, so the investigation was dropped.

However, London rabbinic judges conducted their own investigation and found Halpern unfit to serve in religious leadership roles. He therefore stepped down from most of his positions but remained as the rabbi of his synagogue.

Halpern has denied the accusations, and his lawyer says that he intends to fully cooperate with the police investigation.

The Scotland Yard investigation comes as Israel Police opened an investigation into Rabbi Zvi Thau after two women accused him of sexually assaulting them when they were minors.