Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn DA Condemned For Not Prosecuting More Hasidic, Orthodox Jewish Sex Abusers
Brooklyn, NY - Finding sexual abusers of children and prosecuting their cases is one of law enforcementâ€™s top priorities.
But in Brooklyn, District Attorney Charles Hynesâ€™ office has come under fire what not vigorously pursuing cases in the Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities, a charge Hynes vehemently denies.
On Friday afternoons in Williamsburg families prepare for the Sabbath. It is a sheltered community known for its devotion to old world values, but some say its a community with a secret made worse by decades of cover-up and law enforcement that looks the other way.
â€śWe have a wonderful community, a beautiful community, but we have some of the same of the problems the rest of the world have,â€ť Assemblyman Dov Hikind recently told CBS 2â€™s Chris Wragge.
The problem is the sexual abuse of children and the failure to report it to authorities. In the insular world of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, it is the accuser who is believed to bring shame on the community, while the abuser is often pitied.
â€śItâ€™s an environment that protects offenders,â€ť said Ben Hirsch of advocacy group Survivors For Justice. â€śThere are a lot of known perpetrators in the community and theyâ€™re not being reported.â€ť
In 2009, the Brooklyn district attorney set up a special unit to deal with the abuse cases in the Orthodox community. Since then, there have been 85 arrests, but the cases are shrouded in secrecy. Hynes wonâ€™t release names of the alleged abusers, saying it could identify victims.
â€śItâ€™s a civil rights statute that precludes us from identifying the people,â€ť Hynes said.
But not all district attorneys agree with that interpretation of the civil rights law. Assemblyman Hikind said he finds Hynesâ€™ position inexplicable.
â€śWhy he will not release information that other district attorneys release readily to the public because it is in the public interest, I just donâ€™t get that,â€ť Hikind said.
Hirsch said Hynes is bowing to pressure from politically powerful rabbis.
â€śI do believe that Charles Hynes is playing politics with childrenâ€™s lives,â€ť Hirsch said.
A charge Hynes dismisses.
â€śThere is no more forceful partner with advocates whether itâ€™s sex abuse or domestic violence than I have been in the 21 years I have been district attorney in this town,â€ť Hynes said.
Of the 85 arrests, 14 have resulted in prison terms and some are critical of Hynesâ€™ commitment to prosecute cases.
â€śJustice, thatâ€™s all we wanted,â€ť said one abuse victimâ€™s father.
â€śI wanted something to be done about it,â€ť another added.
Those fathers, who didnâ€™t want to be identified by CBS 2, said their sons were abused by Rabbi Joel Kolko. They said both boys were willing to testify against him at trial, but they were stunned when the district attorney let Kolko plead to lesser charges of endangering the welfare of a child, and given three years probation.
â€śHe basically walked free and thatâ€™s what they wanted,â€ť one of the fathers said.
â€śIt was just shocking â€¦ shocking. It was a shock. We waiting for justice and itâ€™s not being done,â€ť the other added.
But some say cases fall apart because families back out because they are afraid of being ostracized.
â€śI think they throw the towel in. They might notify the DA after theyâ€™ve been to the DA that weâ€™re not pressing the case,â€ť Hikind said.
However, the victimsâ€™ fathers and their children were willing to go forward and they said they will never forget the justice denied them by the district attorney.
â€śThey should do whatâ€™s right for the families that has been a victim of this guy, and not whatâ€™s right for the other side,â€ť one of the fathers said.
Rabbi Kolko was arrested for violating his probation. A spokesman for the district attorney said there will no plea this time. His lawyer said evidence needs to come out at trial before anyone makes conclusions.
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