Bergenfield, NJ, child therapist accused of sexually exploiting a 16-year-old boy

BERGENFIELD, N.J. (WABC) -- A New Jersey child therapist has been arrested, accused of illegal sexual activity with a former patient.

Elliot Halberstam of Bergenfield has been charged in a criminal complaint with coercing and enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, sexual exploitation of a child, and one count of receipt of child pornography.

"Elliot Halberstam is charged with violating the trust of his former patient, a 16-year old boy, in the worst way imaginable - he allegedly coerced and tricked the victim into engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and captured it on video and in photographs," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a news release.

The 38-year old Halberstam, who holds a master's degree in child and adolescent psychotherapy, was arrested at his home in Bergenfield Tuesday morning.

People coming in and out of the house Wednesday morning kept quiet about the charges, a three-count federal indictment.

Beginning in March, prosecutors say Halberstam persuaded the victim to take lewd pictures of himself, even when the teen told him, "I'm uncomfortable."

There may be more victims, according to the FBI.

Halberstam worked at the Jewish Family Service & Children's Center of Clifton-Passaic, but is no longer there. In a written statement, the center says "We are cooperating with law enforcement and trying to learn more about the situation. Our chief concern, of course, is the privacy and the welfare of our clients."

Halberstam appeared in federal court in Lower Manhattan Tuesday. His home in Bergenfield, N.J., was searched by FBI agents.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call 212-384-1000.

Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.