A Saginaw rabbi is facing charges he sexually assaulted a woman inside his synagogue, according to court records.
Rabbi Mark Aaron Griffin, 47, founder of Sar Shalom synagogue on Bluebonnet Street in Saginaw, was indicted on four counts of sexual assault in December.
The indictment said Griffin sexually assaulted a woman in March 2020 by “exploiting (her) emotional dependency on (Griffin) as a clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as a spiritual advisor.”
The latest news from around North Texas.
A search warrant was issued for the rabbi’s DNA last week and offers new details of the investigation.
A Saginaw detective wrote that he believed Griffin used his influence as a clergyman to coerce the victim to have both consensual and non-consensual sex.
Griffin told the woman he wanted her to be a “concubine,” or mistress, and that she was a gift to him from God, adding that Abraham and Jacob were examples of people having multiple soulmates, according to the warrant.
Griffin identifies himself as a Jewish rabbi and his place of worship as a synagogue, but he preaches Messianic Judaism, which is rejected by many in the mainstream Jewish faith who say its teachings go against the basic tenets of Judaism and align more with Christianity. Messianic Jews believe Jesus was the Messiah.
Detectives obtained the rabbi’s DNA by swabbing his mouth for saliva on April 1, according to court records.
The document said police searched the synagogue on Sept. 10 and, using forensic light, found what appeared to be bodily fluids on the carpet in the Welcome room and Rabbi’s office, where the victim said she was assaulted.
Investigators cut out pieces of the carpet as evidence, they said, and a lab test received by police in late March found evidence of semen on it, police said.
Griffin’s attorney, Colin McLaughlin of Fort Worth, issued a short statement.
“We believe strongly in the presumption of innocence, and we believe that it absolutely applies in this case,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, because it is a pending case, we cannot comment on the facts or circumstances surrounding the case at this time.”
According to the synagogue’s webpage, Griffin is a chaplain for the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department.
The sheriff’s office said he was last in the jail as a volunteer chaplain in March 2020 and was removed from the chaplain’s list in September after his arrest. He is no longer associated with the sheriff’s office, the department said.