The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles Hynes, is being accused of exaggerating child abuse arrests in the ultra-orthodox community of Haredi. Many criticize Hynes for actually protecting child predators.
We’ve long been writing about the issue of sex abuse cases in close-knit ultra-orthodox Jewish communities nationwide, recently writing that the Brooklyn DA 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 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.
Hynes made headlines for the seeming success of the Kol Tzedek program, which was implemented in 2009 to help abuse victims in the ultra-orthodox community report sex crimes to secular law enforcement. Claiming 95 arrests of sex criminals, Hynes’ success is now being called into question. The Jewish Telegraphing Agency (JTA) just wrote that Hynes inflated the results of the Kol Tzedek.
The DA’s office has faced harsh criticism for refusing to name abusers prosecuted as a result of the program. And, while Hynes continually claims that Kol Tzedek led to 95 arrests, the New York Jewish Week and The New York Times probes suggest that this number might be an overstatement, said the JTA.
Initial reports of Kol Tzedek’s alleged successes being inflated were first reported last month by The Jewish Week, which said that no less than eight of the cases were, in truth, reported years before the program’s confidential hotline was put in place. The Jewish Week asked DA spokesman Jerry Schmetterer why the prior cases were identified as Kol Tzedek cases; Schmetterer only said that the DA “made them part of Kol Tzedek.
The Times, following up on a May 11 report and using public records, identified suspect names and other details concerning 47 cases. “More than half of the 47 seemed to have little to do with the program, according to the court records and interviews,” The Times said. “Some did not involve ultra-Orthodox victims, which the program is specifically intended to help. More than one-third involved arrests before the program began, as early as 2007,” the article continued. “Many came in through standard reporting channels, like calls to the police,” The Times added.
For example, said The Times, one case involved a cafe owner convicted of molesting a Hispanic female employee; three others involved Orthodox defendants accused of groping women on public transportation. None qualify for what Kol Tzedek is meant to accomplish. Meanwhile, Hynes refused to be interviewed for both publications and his office’s sex crimes division chief, Rhonnie Jaus, told the Times that Kol Tzedek has been “an incredible success…. Our numbers are not inflated…. If anything, they are conservative.”
Hynes responded to Mayor Bloomberg’s criticism of his policy, telling CBS that, “Ya know, had he bothered to reach out, I would have explained that I didn’t object to someone going to see a rabbi … but I certainly expected that they would report promptly any allegations of sexual abuse,” according to The Gothamist. Hynes also pointed out that his office created the “Voice of Justice” program (Kol Tzedek) that includes a victim hotline and designated social worker. Hynes further defended his method of protecting accusers, saying that, “Once they identify the victim, they harass and intimidate,” said The Gothamist.