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85 Arrested in Orthodox Jewish Child Sexual Abuse Investigation

Dec 12, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

A three-year investigation into child sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community is paying off, according to the Brooklyn District Attorneys office.  Since the project, known as Kol Tzedek, was launched in 2009, 85 alleged child molesters have been arrested.

According to The New York Post, Kol Tzedek has also resulted in:

•    117 victims: 89 under age 17, the rest up to age 23, when the statute of limitations expires
•    47 cases pending; 38 closed
•    14 offenders sentenced to jail, from a month to 10-to-20 years
•    24 free—on probation, after pleading to lesser charges or after cases were dismissed.

Kol Tzedek is Hebrew for “voice of justice.  The aim of the program is to convince child sexual abuse victims to come forward, even though the Orthodox Jewish community has long exerted pressure on victims to stay quiet about their abuse.  Ultra-orthodox rabbis enforce a rule that prohibits reporting fellow Jews to secular authorities. Coming forward can result in an entire family being made outcasts.

“The first thing they say almost every time is, ‘Please don’t tell anybody. I don’t want to go public. Make sure this never goes to the press,’ ” Henna White, the Orthodox Jewish liaison for the Brooklyn DA's office, told The New York Post. “I can’t begin to tell you how important that is.”

Sadly, dismissals often came after victims and their parents bowed to immense community pressure to stop cooperating with law enforcement, White said.

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