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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Old Blog Post Draws Jewish Businessman’s Ire

NEW CITY, N.Y. (CN) - The man behind the Empire State Building's Skyride claims in court that a blog defames him by preserving an article about dismissed molestation charges.

Zalman Silber, a prominent Hasidic businessman and philanthropist, filed suit in Rockland County Supreme Court this week against a blog called the Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speak Out.

In June 2008, the blog posted a CBS news report stating that Silber had just been arrested on charges that he held himself out as a doctor and conducted fake "gynecological exams."

Claiming that he molested two women, ages 18 and 20, the blog says "Silber was charged with third-degree sexual abuse and unauthorized practice and professions for impersonating a doctor."

But Silber notes that his female accusers "were liars," and that Manhattan prosecutors dropped all charges against him when this became apparent.

More mainstream news outlets that reported on Silber's arrest have updated their coverage.

"All the Rockland County criminal charges against Zalman Silber were dismissed on October 21, 2009," an article the New York Daily News ran one year earlier now states. "All the Manhattan criminal charges against him were dismissed on December 23, 2009."

A link to the CBS affiliate that the blog credits for the report is broken. The website's archive contains no hits for Zalman Silber. CBS is not a party to Silber's Oct. 27 action.

Silber claims that Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence has refused to post an update on its blog to demonstrate this development, or to remove its original post containing the accusations about him.

A search for the blog's contact information to obtain comment on Silber's lawsuit proved unsuccessful.

Silber says the blog has not responded to numerous emails from his attorney.

"In contrast to most responsible and authentic media outlets, Survivors refused to post a crucial and important update to its blog; stating in clear and unambiguous language that Plaintiff is completely innocent of all alleged charges and said allegations were the doing of a lying Jane Does, or alternatively, completely removing the offending post," the complaint states.

Neighbors told the Daily News that Silber moved from Borough Park, Brooklyn, to Rockland County in 2007.

He made millions of dollars from his creation of the Skyride at the Empire State Building, a virtual simulation helicopter tour of New York City located on the second floor of the building. Silber was considered a "business whiz" for the successful venture, the Daily News reported.

The businessman says that allegations repeated on the blog portray him as a "pervert," causing him to suffer a significant loss of clients and financial damages.

"Specifically, on numerous occasions people and especially women have refused to do business with plaintiff as a result of a simple online search," the six-page complaint alleges.

Indeed, the Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence post on Silber shows up on the front page of Google and Bing searches of his name, Silber adds.

Claiming that the blog's statements about him are false and depict him in an "injurious light," Silber wants the court to have the post removed.

Silber is represented by David Steinmetz of Lakewood, N.J., and is suing for injurious falsehood and tortious interference with prospective business advantage.

The complaint also names 10 unidentified men women as defendants, saying these individuals are "one-time acquaintances" of Silber's ex-wife who live in New York.

In an example of how the "Jane Does were liars," Silber notes that one of the women identified him as being at least 20 years older than his actual age and that another said he had "buck teeth."

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