A Chasidic teenager who firebombed the home of a neighbor over a religious disagreement was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Shaul Spitzer, 18, of the New York State village of New Square, was sentenced Tuesday in Rockland County Court after pleading guilty in February to the arson attack on the home of Aron Rottenberg.
Last May 22, Rottenberg was severely burned over half of his body in the early morning attack outside of his home in New Square, which has a population of 7,000, mostly from the Skverer Chasidic sect. Rottenberg has undergone several skin graft surgeries.
Spitzer, who also was badly burned in the attack, had been charged with first-degree attempted arson, first-degree assault and second-degree attempted murder.
Rottenberg had asked Judge William Kelly to be lenient with Spitzer, according to CBS News, causing Kelly to knock several years off the 10-year cap offered in a plea bargain. During Tuesday’s hearing, Spitzer apologized for the attack and said he had meant to scare the family into moving out of the community.
Spitzer had spent a year as a live-in aide to Rabbi David Twersky, the rebbe of the Skverer sect, before the attack.
Rottenberg filed a civil lawsuit last June against Spitzer and Twersky saying that prior to the arson attack, his family had suffered harassment in the form of rocks thrown at the windows of their home and car, the expulsion of one daughter from the village’s religious school and threatening phone calls to their home. Rottenberg claimed that Spitzer had attacked the home by direction of the rabbi. The rabbi was not charged. The lawsuit was settled for $2.3 million, according to reports.
Rothenberg and his family say they were targeted for harassment for his refusal to pray in the main village synagogue presided over by Twersky. They are moving out of the New Square community, the News-Journal reported.