A lawyer is speaking out against Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ handling of sex abuse crimes in the Orthodox Jewish community and his seeming protection of child predators.
In a New York Post editorial, Orthodox Jewish attorney Micheal Lesher writes that, “Hynes’ refusal to disclose almost any information about the arrest or prosecution of alleged sex offenders from the politically powerful Orthodox community is not only discriminatory; it’s also a cynical insult to the victims his office is pledged to support.”
Lescher points out that the discrimination is not hearsay and is, rather, “a matter of record,” citing April 2010 correspondence to the Forward’s Paul Berger and Hella Winston of The Jewish Week, in which the Assistant DA, Morgan Dennehy, wrote that Hynes’ policy of stemming details about the sex abuse scandals is “unique” to the “Hasidic” community, wrote The Post.
Dennehy said that if Hynes released information about alleged perpetrators from what he described as the “tight-knit and insular” Orthodox community, there would be “a significant danger that the disclosure … would lead members of that community to discern the identities of the victims,” a violation of NY State law, The Post reported.
In his editorial, Lescher pointed out that, in December, when the DA’s office announced sentencing of Gerald Hatcher, a known child abuser, it provided sufficient information about the 11-year-old victim that some were able to figure out who she was. Also, the attorney explained to the Post that Hynes freely names perpetrators involved in similar crimes in other, nonOrthodox Jewish communities that many would describe as also being “tight-knit.”
We’ve long been writing about the issue of sex abuse cases in the close-knit ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities nationwide, recently writing that Hynes was facing heat over his handling of sex abuse cases and describing a number of cases of apparent sex crime cover-ups.
As we’ve said, convincing child sex abuse victims to speak is particularly difficult in the ultra-Orthodox community because rabbis enforce a rule against reporting fellow Jews to secular authorities. Defying the rabbis can result in families becoming outcasts, ruining prospects for marriage or running businesses.
The matter began gaining attention in the mid-2000s when rabbis adopted a practice of denial that molesters exist in their community and crimes are covered up. Advocates and blogs brought attention to the matter, forcing the community’s religious leaders to cooperate with law enforcement. Hynes has long been criticized by advocates for not handling the matter. For instance, we recently wrote that Hynes refused to name the Orthodox Jewish child sex abuse suspects arrested or charged in the highly successful Kol Tzedek initiative that led to 85 arrests. Kol Tzedek was initiated to help abuse victims in the ultra-orthodox community report the crimes to secular law enforcement.
“In presenting the all-too-familiar ‘under the carpet’ policy as a form of victims’ rights, Hynes has showed his true priorities. Equal justice for sex-abuse victims isn’t one of them,” Lesher writes in the Post. “The preferential treatment for Orthodox abusers isn’t about the victims; it’s about the extent to which Orthodox leadership controls the way the DA treats these cases,” he added.