Leading Jewish rights advocates have cancelled a meeting with Brooklyn’s District Attorney and said they likely would not meet with him again in the future until his office changes its course on dealing with a rash of child sexual abuse allegations.
According to a New York Daily News report, the leaders of Voice of Justice and other advocacy groups cancelled a meeting this week with D.A. Charles Hynes, calling his refusal to make public the names of people within Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community who’ve been accused of sexually abusing children a continued example of his office’s unwillingness to prosecute these crimes. The groups believe Hynes is bowing to religious leaders in honoring their request to keep these names private.
In recent months, several children within this tight-knit community in Brooklyn have come forward with accusations that they were sexually abused by people of authority within the church, either religious or school officials or other community leaders. Like many other sexual abuse cases, the victims are finding it difficult to bring their allegations to the public, often finding numerous roadblocks along the way.
In Brooklyn, Hynes is accused of helping religious leaders keep the names of those accused of sexually abusing children secret. The advocacy groups say Hynes is “appeasing” the church officials in complying with their request and until that policy changes, they’ll refuse any future meetings with him.
Making matters worse for the victims, their names are often well known as are their charges of being sexually abused. Victims within the community have reported being intimidated after they make their charges and they and their families are often ridiculed within the community and attempts are made to force them to drop their allegations.
Hynes has responded to many of these allegations that his office is complying with the accused and with ultra-Orthodox leaders in helping them keep these crimes a secret. He has established a hotline for victims to call to seek justice free of the fear of facing intimidation within the community.
Like other patterned sexual abuse, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community shuns the telling of civil authorities of their accusations. Instead, those within the community are expected to bring their concerns to rabbis who then promise to investigate the allegations and they’ll decide whether other authorities should get involved.
If a person were to come forward to secular authorites with these allegations, they and their families are often subjected to repeated intimidation. Children are removed from the Hasidic religious schools and the families are ostracized from the community.
Hynes denies that he and his office are catering to the desires of the rabbis in failing to make public the names of those accused of sexual abuse against children and a spokesperson for his office to The Daily News that a scheduling conflict prompted this week’s meeting cancellation.