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This article was published 20/2/2018 (1314 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg police have issued an arrest warrant for a rabbi charged with sex crimes alleged to have occurred between 1993 and 1999.
Yacov Simmonds, 42, has been charged with three counts of sexual assault, three counts of sexual interference and two counts of invitation to sexual touching.
Sexual interference involves touching someone under the age of 16 for a sexual purpose and a conviction carries a minimum one-year prison sentence. Invitation to sexual touching also involves minors and a minimum one-year prison term.
Winnipeg police said Tuesday that they issued a warrant for Simmonds' arrest in October. Investigators believe he fled to the United States.
Simmonds "is aware of the warrant and is actively evading police," WPS said in a statement.
Canadian arrest warrants are enforceable only in Canada, police said. There may be extradition or reciprocity arrangements in place with the U.S. government or certain states, but police offered no details on any such agreements in Simmonds' case.
Simmonds, who is presumed innocent, could not be reached for comment. The allegations against him have not been proven in court.
He worked as a fundraiser for the orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Learning Centre in Winnipeg from 2000 to 2016, after the alleged sex crimes occurred. Its board of directors issued a statement Tuesday saying it broke ties with Simmonds before he was charged by police.
"We have been advised that these charges relate to matters that allegedly occurred prior to Rabbi Simmonds’ engagement with the centre," the statement said.
"The matter was brought to our attention in January 2016 after which the centre concluded an agreement to terminate Rabbi Simmonds’ employment. As the matter is now before the courts and out of respect for the families involved, we have no further comment to make at this time."
Someone with knowledge of the circumstances said Simmonds was expected to return to Winnipeg to face the charges after the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur last fall. That didn't happen and the arrest warrant was issued, said the source, who agreed to comment on condition of anonymity. They said the alleged victims are female.
The centre announced it had parted ways with Simmonds in its August 2016 newsletter.
"We wish to inform the public that Rabbi Yacov Simmonds is currently embarking on a career change; by mutual agreement he is no longer part of the rabbinical staff or administration of Chabad-Lubavitch of Winnipeg." The organization expressed its gratitude for Simmonds' years of service.
While the community wasn't informed about the allegations against him, the closely connected network of those running the learning centres would be made aware of them, the source familiar with the situation said.
"There's no way he's going to be employed in another lubavitch," the source said.
The Hasidic organization Chabad-Lubavitch operates an extensive outreach effort to encourage unaffiliated Jews to return to traditional practices. Members of Chabad-Lubavitch are differentiated from other orthodox Jews by their devotion to a dynastic leader (referred to as a "Rebbe"), their wearing of distinctive clothing and a commitment to a Torah life, according to several websites.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.