D.A. Under More Fire For Not Prosecuting Witness Tampering In Haredi Child Sex Abuse Cases
“These children’s civil rights are being violated. They have a civil right not to be molested. And the feds should take an interest in this and the feds do take an interest in things that would normally be left to the locals when the locals don’t do it. And this local isn’t doing it.”
Originally published at 9:40 pm CDT 5-15-2012
As Pressure On Hynes Builds, New Revelations Of Rabbis’ Intimidation
Family in Kolko civil suit subjected to psychological pressure to drop abuse case against Flatbush yeshiva.
Hella Winston • The Jewish Week
The already distraught mother had reached the end of her rope.
She and her husband, parents of a now 13-year-old boy who they allege was sexually molested by his Brooklyn yeshiva teacher, were doing the unthinkable in the borough’s ultra-Orthodox community: bucking a system stacked heavily against them and pursuing a civil lawsuit against the Flatbush school that employed the teacher, Rabbi Yehuda Kolko.
The system was pushing back, with a vengeance.
A prominent Brooklyn rabbi and Yaakov Applegrad, an administrator at Yeshiva Torah Temimah, the school parents were suing, asked the parents to a meeting — without their lawyer. After pleading with the couple to drop the suit, Applegrad and the rabbi turned up the heat and played the card they hoped would resonate powerfully with religious Jews: they compared the parents to Nazis for attempting to “bankrupt” the yeshiva. The Nazis, they said, destroyed the yeshiva in Europe built before the war by the father of Rabbi Lipa Margulies, Torah Temimah’s founder and dean. Now, the two suggested, the parents were doing the same with their lawsuit. (It is not clear that Rabbi Margulies’ father actually had a yeshiva in Europe).
The tactic worked. At a second meeting five days later, the husband, feeling “agitated … outnumbered and overwhelmed with terrible emotions,” and with his wife in tears, signed “under great duress” a document to end the lawsuit.
The couple quickly withdrew their agreement, and their lawsuit is going forward. But this episode — and others described by a second family suing the same yeshiva — highlights the particular perils facing haredi families who would attempt to hold yeshivas or other institutions civilly responsible for child molestation.…
The story goes on to discuss other cases of threats against and harassment of victims and the D.A.'s lack of prosecutions regarding those that rise to the level of a criminal act. It then quotes Fordham law professor James A. Cohen, an expert on witness tampering who is troubled by the D.A.'s conduct:
“We are dealing with a DA who courts the Orthodox community,” Cohen said. “So what are we to conclude from this?”
“These children’s civil rights are being violated,” Cohen continued. “They have a civil right not to be molested. And the feds should take an interest in this and the feds do take an interest in things that would normally be left to the locals when the locals don’t do it. And this local isn’t doing it.”
Read it all here.