Monday, June 28, 1999

Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries

  1. Telling all.
  2. Talking at an intimate level at the first meeting (in a non-therapeutic setting).
  3. Falling in love with a new acquaintance.
  4. Falling in love with anyone who reaches out.
  5. Being overwhelmed by a person - preoccupied.
  6. Acting on the first sexual impulse.
  7. Being sexual for your partner, not yourself.
  8. Going against personal values or rights to please others.
  9. Not noticing when someone else displays inappropriate boundaries.
  10. Not noticing when someone invades your boundaries.
  11. Accepting food, gifts, touch, or sex that you don't want.
  12. Touching a person without asking.
  13. Taking as much as you can get for the sake of getting.
  14. Giving as much as you can give for the sake of giving.
  15. Allowing someone to take as much as they can from you.
  16. Letting others direct your life.
  17. Letting others describe your reality.
  18. Letting others define you.
  19. Believing others can anticipate your needs.
  20. Expecting others to fill your needs automatically.
  21. Falling apart so someone will take care of you.
  22. Self-mutilation
  23. Sexual and physical abuse
  24. Food, chemical abuse and/or other substances.

Monday, June 07, 1999

Case of Samuel S. Aster, PhD

Case of Samuel S. Aster, PhD
(AKA: Sam Aster, Samuel Aster)
Music Teacher - Teaneck, NJ
Brooklyn, NY
College Professor, Columbia University, New York City, NY

Aster admitted abusing at least five more children, confirmed acts were filmed. The District Attorney believed his office has enough evidence against the accused, and therefore considers that none of the victims have to be called to the stand.  Several of the young girls (ages 8 to 13) who were allegedly molested by Sam Aster were members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Teaneck.  

They believed at the time other children who might have been molested by Sam Aster atteneded the Yavneh Academy, an Jewish day school in Paramus.

Aster could have faced a jail term of more than 100 years if convicted on all of the charges. 

Sixteen charges had been leveled against Aster, including one count of aggravated sexual assault with a child under age 13, eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child by videotaping children engaged in sexual acts, and seven counts of second-degree sexual assault.
On November 3, 1999 Samuel Aster was found dead in his home, this was prior to  this case going to court.  His body hanging in the house about 6 p.m., sources said. A plastic bag covered his head. One has to wonder if this was a suicide or if someone murdered him.  How common it is for someone to be able to hang themselves with a plastic bag covering their head?  Considering he was an alleged serial rapist, one has to wonder how many other children throughout his life he molested.  How many of his victims were abused during his years living in Brookyn?  How many rabbonim might have known that he was molesting and helped to cover up any alleged crimes?  Many of the child survivors were never given the opportunity to have their day in court.

Aster received his Ph.D. from Columbia University and was a professor of the College of Manhattan since 1982 by some programs in the field of art. 

If you have a photograph of Samuel Aster or more information about this case, please forward it to The Awareness Center. 


Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs.

Table of Contents:

  1. Teaneck Man Held On Abuse Charges Piano Stuent, 8, Alleges Sex Assault (06/07/1999)
  2. Music Teacher Accused Of Molesting Students  (06/07/1999)
  3. Teacher Allegedly Taped his Attacks -- Accuse of Abusing Two Piano Students (06/08/1999)
  4. Denuncian por abuso sexual a profesor de piano (Sexual abuse reported by piano teacher) (06/08/1999)
  5. Videotapes Said to Show Assaults on Students (06/09/1999)
  6. Stranger In The Circle of Light (06/15/1999)
  7. Teacher Allegedly Attacked Five More -- Videotaped 7 Girls Prosecutor says  (06/23/1999)
  8. Profesor de piano admite haber agredido sexualmente a varias ninas (06/24/1999)
  9. Teaneck Piano Teacher in Sex Case Found Dead -- Was Accused of Fondling Female Pupils  (11/03/1999)
  10. Man Tied To Abuse - Apparent Suicide (11/04/1999) 
  11. Accused child molester dies in apparent suicide (11/04/1999)
  12. 2nd Teacher Kills Self After Sex Abuse Charge (11/04/1999)
  13. Suspect Takes Own Life (11/04/1999)
  14. Hart Wants Toucher Rules On Abusive Teachers  (11/05/1999)
  15. Teacher-Student Sex: Many Stories Go Untold  (11/07/1999)


Teaneck Man Held On Abuse Charges Piano Student, 8, Alleges Sex Assault
By Seamus McGraw
The Record - June 7, 1999  

A 60-year-old piano teacher from Teaneck has been charged with molesting one of his young students, authorities said Sunday. 

Prosecutors said they were investigating whether Samuel S. Aster of Churchill Road may also have molested other children, all of them young girls. 

Authorities said Aster was arrested shortly after midnight Saturday at his home on charges that he sexually assaulted an 8-year-old Teaneck girl during a piano lesson on Friday at his house. He was charged with aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a minor. 

The girl told her parents about the incident, and they immediately contacted Teaneck police and investigators from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Ike Gavzy said. 

Investigators searched Aster's house and recovered evidence indicating that Aster may have sexually assaulted several other young girls, Gavzy said.
He declined to elaborate. 

"Let's just say this is an ongoing investigation," Gavzy said. 

Sources close to the case said investigators from the Prosecutor's Office's Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Unit were expected to interview several other girls and their families Sunday and today. 

Those interviews were delayed, authorities said, because at least some are members of Teaneck's Orthodox Jewish community who could not have been reached on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. 

It was not immediately clear how many students Aster taught, or how he solicited them.
No one answered the door Sunday at the sprawling, Tudor-style house where Aster has lived with his wife and their 21-year-old son for the past decade. 

Neighbors on Churchill Road, a sun-dappled street of pricey homes and carefully tended lawns, described Aster as soft-spoken. They said they were shocked to hear that he had been arrested. 

"I don't know him well," said Melvin Weinberg, who lives across the street. "I'd see him on the street and say hello. He always seemed pleasant." 

Milton Polevoy, who lives next door to Aster, said he, too, would often wave to Aster, "when he and his wife were out gardening." 

Polevoy said he knew that Aster, who authorities said also taught music at Manhattan College, offered music lessons to young neighbors, but this was the first time he had heard any allegations against the man. 

The news traveled quickly, he said. "I heard about it this morning from somebody in another area of town," Polevoy said. 

Aster remained held on $500,000 bail Sunday in the Bergen County Jail.

Music Teacher Accused Of Molesting StudentsNew York Times - June 8, 1999
Teaneck - A music teacher was being held in $1 million bail yesterday after Bergen County authorities arrested him on suspicion of sexually assaulting young girls who had gone to him for piano lessons.

The teacher, Samuel S. Aster, 60, was arrested shortly after midnight Friday after an 8-year-old girl had reported to her parents earlier that day that she had been sexually abused by Mr. Aster during a piano lesson at his Teaneck home. Mr. Aster was charged with aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a minor.

Mr. Aster, who has a wife and a 21 year-old son, also taught music at Manhattan College.

William Schmidt, the Bergen County Prosecutor, said other children might have been involved and the investigation was continuing.

"A number of children may be involved and a number of them may be from the Orthodox Jewish community," he said. He said some parents or possible victims could not be reached on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

Teacher Allegedly Taped His Attacks -- Accuse of Abusing Twwo Piano Students
By Semus McGraw
The Record (Bergen County, NJ) - June 8,1999

Samuel S. Aster, the Teaneck piano teacher who now stands accused of sexually assaulting two of his young students, secretly videotaped the attacks, sources close to the investigation said Monday. 

The tapes allegedly helped lead authorities to the second victim, prompting additional charges Monday against Aster, who was arrested Saturday. 

The tapes show Aster fondling each of the victims, both 8 years old, and are the strongest evidence against him, the sources said. 

A search of Aster's Tudor-style house apparently turned up the tapes, and other key pieces of evidence that authorities believe will lead them to other victims, they said. 

Aster, 60, was being held on $1 million bail in the Bergen County Jail on Monday, charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault and two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor. Bail was originally set at $500,000 but was increased on Monday. 

Investigators from the prosecutor's Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Unit are expected to interview at least five more of Aster's students, based on additional evidence that they collected, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Ike Gavzy said. 

"The investigation is continuing, and we are talking to other people," Gavzy said, adding that the probe is likely to continue at least until the end of the week. 

Aster, a frail, gray-haired man who teaches music at Manhattan College, was arraigned Monday in Teaneck Municipal Court. 

He said nothing to reporters as he was brought into court _ wearing a bulletproof vest _ by a phalanx of Bergen County sheriff's officers. 

Aster's attorney, J. Dennis Kohler of Hackensack, entered a not guilty plea on his client's behalf. Kohler later declined to comment on details of the case, saying he had not yet discussed it with his client. 

The arraignment capped a busy day for investigators who arrested Aster late Friday. Hours earlier, the first of his alleged victims, an 8-year-old girl, told her parents that Aster had assaulted her during a music lesson in his Churchill Road home, Gavzy said. 

The girl's parents immediately contacted police and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, Gavzy said. 

Interviews with the victims were delayed because some of them are members of Teaneck's Orthodox community who could not be reached on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, he said.
But on Sunday, investigators met with a second alleged victim, Gavzy said, and on Monday afternoon, authorities filed additional charges against Aster. Sources said that alleged attack is believed to have occurred within the past month. 

Sexual abuse reported by piano teacher
By Cristina Loboguerrero,
El Diario La Prensa. New York - June 8, 1999., Pg. 3 
(Translated Using Google - Original Spainish below)

Teaneck - Researchers at the Child Abuse Unit and sex crimes prosecutor's office in Bergen County, conducted interrogations yesterday several girls, who came to take piano lessons with a man 60 years of Teaneck, which was arrested last Saturday and charged with sexually assaulted one of his students for eight years.

Details about the results of the interrogations were not disclosed, because the potential victims are minors. According to the Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Ike Gavzy, most of the students who Samuel S. Aster taught classes belong to the Orthodox Jewish community in the city of Teaneck.

Aster was arrested on the afternoon of Saturday at his home in Teaneck, after an eight-year-old tell her parents that the piano teacher had sexually molested during class on Friday. When authorities went to the home of Aster, found evidence that suggest to the researchers that the teacher might have annoyed and even raped other girls. Gavzy, refused to talk about the complaint made ​​by the child and said only that the man was indicted on charges of sexual assault against a child under eight years, during events that occurred on the afternoon of Friday, when the child received his one hour of class piano. He added that "it appears that this man may have raped other girls. Meanwhile, it was learned that continuous Aster arrested in Bergen County Jail and was imposed a bail of half a million dollars.


Denuncian por abuso sexual a profesor de piano
By Cristina LoboGuerrero,
El Diario La Prensa. New York - Jun 8, 1999., pg. 3

Teaneck -- Varios investigadores de la Unidad de Abuso Infantil y Crimenes Sexuales de la oficina del fiscal del condado de Bergen, realizaron ayer varios interrogatorios a ninas, que acudieron a tomar clases de piano, con un hombre de 60 anos de Teaneck, el cual fue arrestado el pasado sabado y acusado de haber asaltado sexualmente a una de sus alumnas de ocho anos.

Detalles acerca de los resultados de los interrogatorios no fueron revelados, debido a que las posibles victimas son menores de edad. Segun el asistente del fiscal del condado de Bergen Ike Gavzy, la mayoria de las alumnas a quien Samuel S. Aster dictaba clases, pertenecen a la comunidad Judia Ortodoxa de la ciudad de Teaneck.

Aster fue arrestado en horas de la tarde del sabado en su casa de Teaneck, luego de que una nina de ocho anos de edad contara a sus padres que el profesor de piano la habia molestado sexualmente durante su clase del dia viernes. Una vez las autoridades acudieron al hogar de Aster, encontraron evidencias que hacen suponer a los investigadores que el profesor podria haber molestado e incluso violado sexualmente a otras alumnas. Gavzy, rehuso hablar acerca de la denuncia hecha por la menor y solo dijo que el hombre fue acusado por cargos de asalto sexual en contra de una menor de ocho anos, durante hechos sucedidos en horas de la tarde del viernes, cuando la menor recibia su clase de una hora de piano. Agrego que "todo indica que este hombre pudo haber violado a otras alumnas. Por su parte, se conocio que Aster continua detenido en la carcel del condado de Bergen y le fue impuesta una fianza de medio millon de dolares.


Videotapes Said to Show Assaults on Students
New York Times - June 9, 1999

Videotapes that are said to show a 60-year-old piano teacher sexually assaulting some of the children who came to his Teaneck home for piano lessons were found in a weekend search of the man's house, investigators familiar with the case said. 

The investigators said the videotapes appeared to have been secretly recorded by the teacher, Samuel S. Aster. The videotapes have led the investigators to question several other children and families about their contacts with the teacher. Investigators said there may be more charges filed against Mr. Aster, who was first arrested on Friday after an 8-year-old student complained to her parents that he had fondled her. The parents reported the accusation to the police. 

Mr. Aster was charged on Monday in a second case involving a sexual assault on another 8-year-old, based on interviews with the child over the weekend, said Ike Gravzy, the chief of the Bergen County Prosecutors Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Unit. Mr. Gravzy would not comment on the case or confirm the existence of the videotapes, but said the investigation was continuing. 

Mr. Aster was being held yesterday on $1 million bond on two counts of aggravated sexual assault and two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor. He pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on Monday night in Teaneck Municipal Court. 


Stranger In The Circle of Light
By Seamus McGraw
The Recorder - June 15, 1999 

Sabbath candles flickered on dining-room tables throughout Teaneck on Friday, bathing the families of believers in a warm and comfortable circle of light. 

Wrapped in that circle, as if in a prayer shawl, the families intoned ancient prayers in an ancient tongue. It shielded them from the chaos of the world outside. 

But there was a stranger inside that circle of light. 

Less than a week earlier, Samuel S. Aster, a 60-year-old piano teacher who had won the trust of the Orthodox Jewish community, had been arrested on charges of sexually assaulting two of his young pupils. 

The girls, both 8 and members of the insular religious community, had been attacked while taking piano lessons in Aster's Churchill Road home, authorities said. 

Adding to their humiliation, Aster allegedly also videotaped the assaults. 

Authorities believe there may be more victims. Over the past week, investigators met quietly with other girls and their families, compiling what they said was additional evidence against Aster. 

Yet even though Aster was in jail on $1 million bail, he was a presence inside the circle of light at Sabbath tables all over Teaneck. 

His arrest, says Nancy Block, a clinical psychologist and a member of Teaneck's Orthodox community, has forced the group to deal with issues that, until now, always seemed to affect other people in other places. 

"We're not as insular as people in other {Orthodox} communities," she says. 

"People read newspapers," she says of the community. "They watch television. They go to the movies." 

Certainly, the Orthodox community has faced tragedy before. It wasn't long ago that the community was rocked by the murder of two children by their father, Avi Kostner. But that horror was seen, in most quarters, as an aberration, the act of a brutal and selfish man. 

Many of Teaneck's Orthodox Jews continued to believe they were somehow safe within their enclave from the worst elements of the world depicted in the media _ a world of violence and abuse, a world where children can easily be victims and where adults must learn to cast a wary eye on other adults, Block says. 

"I think this is a challenge for us," she says. "I think we have to learn how to walk that thin line. We need to teach our children that they can trust adults, but we also have to teach them to trust their instincts, to know when an adult's behavior is inappropriate and to know that they can talk to us." 

Tamar Kahane, also a psychologist and a member of Teaneck's religious community, says she, too, believes that the alleged sexual assaults have provided the community with an opportunity "to fortify" its children with careful instruction and honest discussion about the dangers of the world, both inside and outside the group. 

But are those parents prepared for that kind of challenge? Many of them have spent their entire lives adhering to a strict code designed to keep the poisonous aspects of society from intruding inside that circle of light. 

And are there mechanisms in place to help the children who are victims cope with what has happened? 

Slowly but surely, those mechanisms are developing, says Murray Friedman, a Brooklyn activist who has seen Orthodox communities from Borough Park to Rockland County grapple with such challenges. 

Friedman says "it's taken 26 years" _ first for Orthodox Jews to accept the idea that the ills of society at large can be visited on even the most devout community, and then to recognize that the best way to combat those evils is to talk about them openly, 

Now, from Brooklyn to Monsey, counselors and social workers and organizations are moving into place, looking to identify the problems of abuse, Friedman says.
But what about here? What about now? 

"That's a good question," says Rabbi Eugene Krallwasser, principal of Yavneh Academy, an Orthodox day school in Paramus. 

At Yavneh and Moriah, school officials say they are working to determine whether any of the victims are among their students, and are prepared to offer counseling and support.
But that goes only part of the way toward repairing the damage, Krallwasser says. 

To really protect the children, he says, the community has to listen to them. And that, in any community, is a difficult lesson to learn. 

"When you and I were young, children were to be seen and not heard," he says. "Now we live in a more open society, and I believe that, in the community and outside of it, society is much more aware and on its guard." 

Still, there are many in the Orthodox community, those "farthest to the right wing," Krallwasser says, who may never be able to openly discuss the issue of sexual abuse with their children. 

"How can I judge?" he asks. "I'm not convinced that what's going on in that community is so phenomenal, but I'm not convinced that what we're doing is so phenomenal, either."
It's a difficult question. There is no easy answer. 

But it is a question that clearly can no longer be ignored, now that it has forced itself inside the warm and comfortable circle of light glowing around the Sabbath candles.

Teacher Allegedly Attacked Five More -- Bideotaped 7 Girls Prosecutor says
Agnes Hooper Gottilieb, Staff Writer
The Record (Bergen County, NJ) - June 23, 1999

Authorities on Tuesday charged a 59-year-old Teaneck piano teacher with sexually assaulting five more of his young female students while videotaping them. 

Samuel S. Aster also gave prosecutors a sworn statement detailing the crimes and his videotaping of them, Bergen County Assistant Prosecutor Ike Gavzy said during a bail hearing in Superior Court in Hackensack. 

Defense attorney J. Dennis Kohler said he had not seen the statement, however. 

Kohler had requested the hearing in a bid to have Aster's bail reduced. Prosecutors, in turn, filed additional complaints against the music professor Tuesday, alleging that he assaulted a total of seven girls between the ages of 8 and 13. 

Gavzy, of the sex crimes unit, told Superior Court Judge William C. Meehan of a case "so strong and so overwhelming" that he probably wouldn't have to call victims to testify. Gavzy said he also had Aster's videotapes. 

"Each one of those seven cases is as strong as the other," he said. 

Gavzy argued unsuccessfully to maintain the $1 million bail that had been initially set after Aster's June 5 arrest. 

Meehan reduced the bail to $500,000, noting that Aster had no previous criminal record and had been an "exemplary citizen" prior to this arrest. 

The judge also cited the strength of the prosecution's case, which he said was fortified "by the defendant's own words as well as by videotapes backing that up." 

"It's clear that Mr. Aster's world as he knows it has essentially collapsed," Meehan said. 

Aster was arrested this month after an 8-year-old Teaneck girl told her parents she was sexually assaulted during a piano lesson in his home, authorities said. Two days later, he was charged with sexually assaulting another 8-year-old. 

On Tuesday, Gavzy filed additional complaints alleging the sexual assault of five other girls. Gavzy said Aster could face a jail term of more than 100 years if convicted on all of the charges. 

Sixteen charges have been leveled against Aster, including one count of aggravated sexual assault with a child under age 13, eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child by videotaping children engaged in sexual acts, and seven counts of second-degree sexual assault. 

Kohler argued in favor of a bail reduction because Aster did not pose a risk of flight. He described how his client had lived in Teaneck with his wife and son for the last 12 years. His son, Kohler said, has recently moved to Massachusetts. Before moving to New Jersey, Aster lived in Brooklyn, where he was born and went to school, the defense attorney said.
Kohler described what he called an exemplary life, including a doctorate from Columbia University and a career in higher education that was capped by Aster's election to chairman of his department this spring. During the recitation, the gray-haired, bearded Aster stood next to his attorney, hands cuffed in front of him. He did not speak. 

Heidi Giovine, Manhattan College's public information officer, said that Aster had been on the faculty there since 1982. He is chairman of the fine arts program and an associate professor. 

"He is currently an employee of this college pending the outcome of this matter," Giovine said. 

Kohler told the judge that his client's "wife, family, friends, and colleagues" were in court with him. The wife, (NAME REMOVED) Aster, declined to speak to reporters. 

"Samuel Aster has always been and is still today a kind, a caring, a sensitive, and, everybody says, a gentle individual," Kohler claimed. 

Gavzy said the case was referred to a grand jury.


Piano Teacher admits sexually assaulting several girls(Translated using Google - Original article below in Spanish)
Lobo Guerrero Cristinna
El Diario La Prensa. New York - June 24, 1999., Pg. 6

Hackensack - The case of a piano teacher from the town of Teaneck, who was indicted earlier this month for sexually assaulting a child of eight, has shocked the community where he lived, after the announcement that at least five other children went through the same experience.

Samuel Aster, 59 with calm and confident attitude, he should wield it to the parents to let their daughters alone to impart piano lessons at his home in Teaneck, appeared before Superior Court Judge for admitting sexually assaulted at least five other students his.

When her piano teacher were formulated additional charges, initially made the June 5, when he was arrested at home and charged with sexually assaulting one of his students from eight years of age.

Ike Gavzy, Assistant County Attorney, assure that Aster admitted abusing at least five more children, confirmed acts were filmed. He added that his office has enough evidence against the accused, and therefore considers that none of the victims have to be called to the stand.

Judge William Meehan reduced the bail of one million, imposed at first the teacher, five hundred thousand dollars, on the grounds that the defendant has no criminal history.

Aster was arrested after one of his students 8 years old told his parents he had been sexually assaulted by her teacher for piano lessons. So immediately attended police headquarters and two days after this event another girl of the same age, reported having had the same experience.

Dennis Kohler Aster lawyer, said his client now faces a total of 16 charges including aggravated sexual assault against a child under 13, eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child to be videotaped to girls while holding sexual acts and seven counts of second-degree sexual assault.

The defendant has an exceptional education includes a Ph.D. from Columbia University and is a professor of the College of Manhattan since 1982 by some programs in the field of art.


Profesor de piano admite haber agredido sexualmente a varias ninas
Cristinna Lobo Guerrero
El Diario La Prensa. New York - June 24, 1999., pg. 6

Hackensack -- El caso del profesor de piano de la ciudad de Teaneck, que fue acusado a comienzos de este mes, por agredir sexualmente a una menor de ocho anos, tiene conmocionada a la comunidad donde residia, tras anunciarse que por lo menos otras cinco menores pasaron por la misma experiencia.

Samuel Aster, de 59 anos con actitud serena y segura, la misma que debio esgrimir ante los padres para que dejaran a sus hijas solas para impartirles clases de piano en su casa de Teaneck, se presento ante el juez de la Corte Superior para admitir haber agredido sexualmente a por lo menos otras cinco alumnas suyas.

Al profesor de piano le fueron formulados cargos adicionales, a los inicialmente hechos el 5 de junio, cuando fue arrestado en su casa y acusado de haber agredido sexualmente a una de sus alumnas de ocho anos de edad.

Ike Gavzy, asistente de la fiscalia del condado, aseguro que Aster admitio haber abusado de por lo menos cinco menores mas, actos que confirmo habian sido filmados. Agrego ademas que su oficina posee las pruebas suficientes en contra del acusado, por lo que considera que ninguna de las victimas tenga que ser llamada al estrado.

El juez William Meehan redujo la fianza de un millon, impuesta en un principio al profesor, a quinientos mil dolares, basandose en que el acusado no cuenta con historial criminal.

Aster fue arrestado luego que una alumna suya de 8 anos de edad dijera a sus padres que habia sido agredida sexualmente por su profesor, durante las clases de piano. Por ello acudieron inmediatamente al cuartel de la Policia y dos dias despues de este hecho otra nina de la misma edad, declaro haber sufrido la misma experiencia.

Dennis Kohler abogado defensor de Aster, dijo que su cliente actualmente encara un total de 16 cargos que incluyen agresion sexual agravada en contra de una menor de 13 anos, ocho cargos por poner en peligro el bienestar de un menor al haber grabado en video a las ninas mientras sostenia actos sexuales y siete cargos de agresion sexual en segundo grado.

El acusado posee una educacion excepcional que incluye un doctorado de la Universidad Columbia y trabaja como profesor del Colegio de Manhattan desde 1982 a cargo de algunos programas en el campo del arte.

Teaneck Piano Teacher in Sex Case Found Dead -- Was Accused of Fondling Female Pupils
By Elise Young, Staff Writer
The Record (Bergen County, NJ) - November 3, 1999

Cut in late editions. 

A Teaneck piano teacher was found dead in his home Tuesday night, four months after he was charged with molesting and videotaping seven of his young pupils, authorities said. 

Investigators believe Samuel S. Aster, 59, a college professor who gave private music lessons at his home on Churchill Road, committed suicide. His wife, (NAME REMOVED), found his body hanging in the house about 6 p.m., sources said. A plastic bag covered his head, they said. 

"It's almost like he wanted to make sure he would die," a law- enforcement source said on condition of anonymity. 

Investigators found a note at the scene, but they declined to reveal its contents. 

Aster's death drew comparisons to the suicide two weeks ago of Edward R. Kotwica, a Garfield High School teacher and former sports coach who stepped in front of a commuter train hours after he was charged with fondling a 17-year-old student. 

The search for more Garfield victims is continuing. But authorities said there is no reason to believe there are more victims in Aster's case. 

"In the Garfield case, it was necessary to continue the investigation - certainly not to cast further negatives upon the coach, but to identify the victims, to get them help, get them counseling," Fred L. Schwanwede, first assistant prosecutor for Bergen County, said Tuesday night. 

In Aster's case, he said, "we were aware of who was involved, and the case basically was done, from an investigative standpoint." 

Bergen County Assistant Prosecutor Ike Gavzy, who handled the case in June, said Aster was about to be scheduled for a preindictment plea before a Superior Court judge. Under such a plea, the grand jury phase of a criminal case is avoided. 

It was not clear Tuesday how Aster intended to plead. A call to his lawyer, J. Dennis Kohler of Teaneck, was not immediately returned. 

Aster, who was head of the fine arts program at Manhattan College in New York, moved to Teaneck from Brooklyn 12 years ago with his wife and son. His lawyer has said Aster held a doctorate from Columbia University and had a successful career in higher education. 

It was a portrait that clashed markedly with what prosecutors said in court. 

In June, an 8-year-old pupil told her parents that Aster had molested her during a music lesson in his Tudor-style home. Within a week, prosecutors found seven alleged victims in all. The girls were between 8 and 13 years old. 

Prosecutors leveled 16 counts against Aster, including aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. 

Later, during a bail hearing in Superior Court in Hackensack, prosecutors said Aster gave a sworn statement describing the crimes. Gavzy said he had a copy of the video Aster had made. 

Sources have said the tapes show Aster fondling each of the victims. 

So strong was the evidence against Aster, Gavzy told the judge, that he probably would not have to call victims to testify. 

The judge set bail at $500,000, which Aster posted. He was released. 

"He was not to have any contact with any of the alleged victims," Gavzy said Tuesday. "There were no allegations that he did." 

Investigators on Tuesday night were phoning the families of Aster's alleged victims to tell them of the death, authorities said. 

Reached at their home on Tuesday night, Aster's wife was in mourning. 

"My husband is dead, and I am miserable," (NAME REMOVED) Aster said. "He was good, kind, and thoughtful. A gentle man."

Man Tied To Abuse - Apparent Suicide
Boston Globe - November 4, 1999

TEANECK - A 59-year-old piano teacher accused of molesting and videotaping seven of his young students was found dead Tuesday night, apparently a suicide. Samuel S. Aster was found in his Teaneck home by his wife, hanging with a plastic bag over his head, authorities said. He was charged in June with sexual assault involving students, ages of 8 to 13. Prosecutors said he had videotaped the encounters and had detailed the crimes in a signed statement, although he pleaded not guilty.  


Accused child molester dies in apparent suicide
The Associated Press - November 4, 1999 

TEANECK, N.J. - A 59-year-old piano teacher accused of molesting and videotaping seven of his young students was found dead in his home in an apparent suicide. 

Samuel S. Aster was found in his home by his wife Tuesday night, hanging with a plastic bag over his head, authorities said. 

He was charged in June with sexual assault involving students, ages of 8 to 13. Prosecutors said he videotaped the encounters and later detailed the crimes in a signed statement, though he pleaded innocent to the charges. 

He was a music professor and head of the fine arts program at Manhattan College. 

Aster's death came two weeks after a Garfield high school coach facing a molestation charge committed suicide by stepping in front of a commuter train. 


2nd Teacher Kills Self After Sex Abuse Charge
New York Times - November 4, 1999

For the second time in two weeks, a Bergen County educator charged with sexually abusing female students has committed suicide, the authorities said yesterday. 

Samuel S. Aster, a 60-year-old college music professor, hanged himself late Tuesday afternoon in his Teaneck home where, the authorities say, he molested seven girls, ages 8 to 13, during private piano lessons. He was arrested in June. 

On Oct. 20 Edward R. Kotwica, 51, the coach of the girls' basketball team at Garfield High School, killed himself by walking into a train's path, the county medical examiner's office ruled. He was arrested hours earlier on allegations of molesting an 18-year-old member of the team.

Suspect Takes Own Life

Pittsburgh Post - November 4, 1999

TEANECK, N.J. - A 59-year-old piano teacher accused of molesting and videotaping seven of his young students was found dead in his home in an apparent suicide. 

Samuel S. Aster was found in his Teaneck home by his wife Tuesday night, hanging with a plastic bag over his head, authorities said. 

He was a music professor and head of the fine arts program at Manhattan College. 

He was charged in June with sexual assault involving pupils ages 8 to 13. Prosecutors said he videotaped the encounters and later detailed the crimes in a signed statement, though he pleaded innocent to the charges. 

Aster's death came two weeks after a Garfield high school coach facing a molestation charge committed suicide by stepping in front of a commuter train. 


Hart Wants Toucher Rules On Abusive Teachers
By Jane Elizabeth Zemel and Steve Twedt
Post Gazette (Pittsburgh) - November 5, 1999 

Pennsylvania lawmakers are looking at legislation to help keep sexually abusive teachers out of the state's schools. 

After reading this week's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette series on abusive teachers, state Sen. Melissa Hart, R-McCandless, said that "Pennsylvania is not as vigilant as some other states in trying to take these people out of the classroom." 

She wants to look at current laws, then talk to teachers and school administrators groups.
"I expect that we'll come up with some legislation to make this better than it is," she said. "This dismiss-them-and-let-them-leave- quietly thing is ridiculous." 

The PG series, "Dirty Secrets: Why sexually abusive teachers aren't stopped" was published Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The series contained reports from abuse victims and explained how a mishmash of state laws and background checks allows molesters to escape detection. 

Sen. Allen G. Kukovich, D-Manor, also said he was planning to take a look at legislation proposed by the state Department of Education. 

"I realize we have to do something [about abusive teachers], but I don't want people to be misled," he said. "We're not going to stop this problem completely with legislation." 

While Hart has mentioned fingerprinting as a way to prevent criminals from working in schools, Al Fondy, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said yesterday he would oppose any such attempt. 

Now, only teacher applicants who have lived in Pennsylvania for less than a year must be fingerprinted. But in 27 other states, anyone who applies for a teaching certificate must be fingerprinted. 

"That's treating someone like a criminal," argued Fondy. "You don't do that." 

Fondy said he hears of one or two cases a year of teachers acting improperly toward students and that about half the time the accusations turn out to be untrue. The PG stories, he said, were "really negative, to say the least." He particularly objected to the radio ads promoting the series. 

"It made it sound like wherever your kids are at school, you should be worried about their sexual safety. That stunk, it really stunk," he said. 

Fondy did say, however, that school officials who write favorable letters of recommendation for problem teachers, just to make them leave "are dead wrong and they should be liable for that." 

He also acknowledged that school districts may not always do thorough checks. "As long as you have a teacher shortage, you'll have people who are desperate to hire, and they don't check what they ought to check." 

Still, he said, the safeguards for ensuring student safety in public schools are much more rigorous than in private or charter schools. 

After last week's series was published, several readers contacted the PG with their own stories of abuse by educators. 

And in just the past few weeks, several more cases of teacher sexual abuse have arisen around the country - including two New Jersey cases in which the teachers committed suicide after being charged with molesting students. 

On Tuesday night, a 59-year-old music teacher was found dead in his Teaneck, N.J., home after being charged with sexual assault involving seven students, ages 8 to 13. 

Prosecutors said that Samuel S. Aster had molested his students and videotaped the incidents. His wife found him dead late Tuesday, hanging with a plastic bag over his head.
His death came just two weeks after the suicide of a Garfield, N.J., High School teacher and football coach who had been charged with aggravated criminal sexual contact involving a 17-year-old female student. 

On Oct. 21, the day after he was charged, Edward P. Kotwica stepped in front of a New Jersey Transit train headed for the Garfield station. He was killed instantly. 

Prosecutors had planned to file additional charges the following week. However, the investigation is not over - prosecutors want to determine if there are other victims to ensure "they get the help and counseling they need," said Bergen County, N.J., Assistant Prosecutor Patricia Baglivi. 

In other recent cases:
* A Miami, Fla., High School teacher was arrested Oct. 18 and charged with seven counts of sexual battery of a minor. One of Sergio Felipe Sagastume's students told police that the teacher locked the classroom door and forced her to perform a sex act on him. The girl's father took her to a rape crises center after she told him what had happened, and workers there called police after evaluating her. 

* In Marion, Iowa, a middle school teacher was arrested Wednesday and charged with having sex with a 15-year-old at the school. Michael W. Garoutte was being held in the Linn County Jail. 

* Just days earlier, a science teacher and wrestling coach in nearby Cedar Rapids surrendered to police and was charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old student. Police said they had obtained e-mail messages from school computers that showed a relationship between David Wayne Simmons and his student. 

* A former student of a Wichita, Kan., drama teacher was awarded $312,000 last month by a jury that determined the young man's depression and failures were the result of being abused by his teacher. 

That teacher, Ned Berry, currently is serving a prison sentence. He pleaded no contest to sodomy charges in 1997 after the former student told police the teacher gave him alcohol on a school field trip, then assaulted him. 

The jury in the civil case found the school district 45 percent liable for the damages to the student. They said school officials didn't respond properly to accusations as far back as 1995, when some students said that Berry was abusing boys in a school basement storeroom. School officials' response was to move Berry's classroom closer to the principal's office. 

* A court date of Dec. 13 has been set in the case of a former basketball coach at Vincentian Academy-Duquesne University. He is charged with corrupting minors and simple assault, based on allegations of inappropriate conduct with players on his team at the McCandless school. 

David Scott Zimmerman, 32, of Brighton Heights, also has been indicted on a federal charge of possession of child pornography. The federal charges were filed as a result of a March 19 search of Zimmerman's home. No date has been set for that trial. 

"Dirty Secrets: Why sexually abusive teachers aren't stopped," can be seen on the PG Web site at 19 991031dirtysecretsindex.asp 


Teacher-Student Sex: Many Stories Go Untold
By David Glovin and Debra Lynn Vial
The Record - November 7, 1999 

He was the guy who was always surrounded by students, the one who joked with the jocks and was always flirting with - and hugging - the girls. 

He'd walk through the crowded hallways of their North Jersey school with his arm around Valerie Reicheg. Among the scribbled messages left in her yearbook that spring, he wrote a note saying how much he'd miss her. "I have truly grown to love you," it said. 

She was a teenager. He was her teacher. 

Shortly after that romantic note, he raped her, she said. Afterward, he told the hysterical, weeping, girl that it was her fault, that she was too pretty. Twenty years later, she is still shaken by his threats. 

"I was taught to trust and obey teachers," said Reicheg, 35. "I trusted him, and he did this horrible thing to me. And other teachers are doing it to other kids today. I gave a speech recently and [people] in the audience came up afterwards and said they were victims. I hear so many terrible stories." 

Sexual contact between teacher and student is not supposed to happen. Ever. But it does. Whether it's an inappropriate touch or the forcible rape of a student, whether with young children or with teenagers on the edge of adulthood, such contact is a flagrant - and illegal - breach of trust. 

Five cases that unfolded in North Jersey in recent weeks have revealed a troubling part of schooling. A young Englewood teacher accused of having sex with her 17-year-old student. A high school girl in Garfield who says her teacher fondled her. Young girls taking piano lessons who say their teacher in Teaneck repeatedly molested them and videotaped the encounters. In Morris County, two teachers at a private Catholic school have been accused of forcing teenage girls to perform oral sex, among other things. 

There are stark differences among these cases - the ages of the victims, the locations, and the kinds of schools - but each of the accused offenders was a respected teacher who was trusted by students. 

Sexual contact between teachers and students is, of course, rare, and teachers strongly condemn colleagues who overstep the line. But at any given time, authorities in New Jersey are investigating several allegations of abuse by educators, prosecutors say. They say that many more never become known because the victims are too scared to tell their parents or the police. 

Indeed, six girls, ages 8 to 13, were allegedly molested by a 59- year-old music teacher, Samuel S. Aster, before a seventh reported the crime. Last week, Aster hanged himself in his Teaneck home, just before he was to meet with prosecutors about the case. In Garfield, the teenager told police that teacher Edward Kotwica had abused her for three years. Kotwica stepped in front of a train two weeks ago, just hours after he had been charged with fondling the female basketball player. Both teachers in the Morris case have been accused of molesting several students over a period of years. 

"It's much more prevalent than we like to imagine," said Charol Shakeshaft, a Hofstra University professor who has spent a decade studying sexual abuse in schools. 

Few statistics on sexual assaults by teachers are available, but a study in December by the newspaper Education Week found hundreds of cases involving ongoing sexual abuse of students. The 244 cases found by Education Week over six months ranged from unwanted touching to years-long sexual relationships. 

"What we're talking about is kids who have sexual relations or sexual activity with teachers," said Shakeshaft, who in a 1994 national survey of 225 school superintendents found that 221 teachers accused of sexual abuse had been allowed quietly to resign or retire. "Adults have a responsibility to make sure it doesn't happen." 

In North Jersey, recent cases have ranged from the Elmwood Park elementary school principal who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking photographs of boys spread-eagled on the floor in his office to a Ringwood educator who pleaded guilty of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy. There are dozens more. 

Passaic County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Del Russo rattles off a long list of educators who have been prosecuted. Among them are a religious teacher who reached up under parochial middle school uniforms while students were reciting their lessons and a teacher who, fired from a job in a public school after a conviction for sexually abusing a student, went to work at a parochial school. 

In high school, the line can become clouded, and students and teachers can get too cozy. April Reeves remembers her teenage friends giving back massages to a teacher. "Only now do I realize it wasn't right," said Reeves, 20, now studying at Bergen County Community College. "He shouldn't have encouraged it. He acted like one of us. It's creepy to think about." 

At Morris Catholic High School, where physical education teacher and guidance counselor Frank LePre, 29, and Frank Lieto Jr., a 28- year-old history teacher, have been accused of sexual contact with students, some students said rumors of the abuse had been spreading for months. 

It's not a subject teachers and principals like to talk about, even though many say they never knew of an improper relationship in school. 

"We'll defend ours for anything but this," said a Passaic County high school teacher who, like other educators interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Once you do this, you're really a pariah." 

But it happens. Sometimes teachers are drawn to the profession because of the close contact with children, experts say. With older students, the dynamic is more complex, involving, perhaps, a teenager's crush or a teacher's flirtation. 

"There are still kids who have crushes on me," said a longtime Bergen County teacher, a woman. "It doesn't have to do with the age of the teacher. Just the person herself, just the student knowing someone cares about them." 

Most educators are well aware that a false accusation can scar or ruin a career and take measures to avoid trouble. Some refuse to be alone with a student. Others will never close the door to their classroom. Still, "there's always rumors, there's always innuendo," the Bergen teacher said. 

Indeed, to some educators, the bright-line bar sometimes dims. "How horrible it is depends on the age difference," the Passaic County teacher said. "If the teacher is 23 and the girl's 18, it's not that horrible." 

Jane Fielder, assistant director of the Bergen County Rape Crisis Center, often hears statements like that from teenagers, too. They're wrong, she said. 

"It's just never appropriate for adults to be sexual with kids, either verbally or [physically]," she said. "They're in a position of trust. They're in a position of unequal power. You can say the student consented, and maybe they did. But maybe they felt they had no choice." 

Valerie Reicheg knows this feeling. "They are in the position of enormous power. You're just a child with no experience. You aren't in control." 

It's even worse when the teacher is beloved, such as the teacher Reicheg says raped her or the Garfield coach accused of fondling girls. Kotwica was given a hero's funeral, the flags around the city flying at half-staff. Many of the 500 people who attended his funeral said they were angry at his accuser. 

"It's hard to speak out against someone who is so respected in your community," said Reicheg, an administrator for an electronics company. "People come out and say what a terrific person they are. They attack the victims." 

In some cases, it is that very charisma that the teachers use to attract victims, Del Russo said. "The kids want to be around them, they want to be part of the group," he said. "It makes it easy for them." 

When Del Russo's office was prosecuting a popular coach, a gym teacher at Passaic Valley Regional High School accused of having sex with a teenager, the judge received 100 letters from supporters. Those came after James P. Pescatore had already served time for molesting a younger girl. 

"Pillars of the community have built up a lot of goodwill," Del Russo said. "There is a groundswell of support that is unbelievable." 

Twenty years ago, Reicheg was flattered when a teacher asked her to stay after school. "I liked the attention," she said. "You know, teacher's pet." 

He had always hugged students, so she wasn't surprised when he put his arm around her. Over the months, he might have said some flirty things, but the teenager didn't think anything of it. "Other teachers saw him with his arm around me in the hallways and didn't say anything. The other students would say, "Going for the young girls now?" she said. "But it seemed OK. 

"Now I know he had manipulated me," she said. "He was grooming me all those months for what would happen." 

That June, he told her he would take her to an amusement park. She rode her bike to a school near her house, where he met her. He put her bike in the trunk, she slipped in the front seat beside him. He said he had to return home to get something he had forgotten. She was raped in his house, she said. 

He warned her never to tell, that he would die of a heart attack if she reported the crime. He said he would lose everything. And he told her she had caused the attack, she said. "I went home and showered for hours," she said. 

It would be roughly 20 years before she would report the abuse. By then, the statute of limitations had run out and she could not file charges. 

Mary Ann Werner, founder of a group called Survivors of Educator Sexual Abuse and Misconduct Emerge, says trust between teacher and pupil develops gradually over time, and often a bond develops. A student may help the teacher grade homework, and in time the relationship evolves to the point where the two are alone together. 

Werner sees other similarities. "Another theme," she said, "is many of the people in authority have a special role in school - music, drama, coaching, school yearbook - so the kids hang on every word of praise." 

Now, Reicheg is hoping people will hang on her every word during talks she gives in the community. 

"I tell them you can't trust anyone with your children," she said. "You can't trust people." 



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