The Lakewood rabbi who pleaded guilty Tuesday to obstruction of justice (despite claims by his supporters of "many" witnesses to support the rabbi's version of events) is now claiming that he is innocent after all and that the charges were "completely unfounded." So why did he plead guilty?
But [Rabbi] Bursztyn, in a telephone interview Wednesday, said he feels he "caved in" in pleading guilty. While his testimony in entering his guilty plea was technically truthful, he said doesn't believe he committed a crime, and he entered the plea to spare himself the expense, stress and time consumption of a trial.
The rabbi said a trial would have interfered with his personal and professional responsibilities. He also said he pleaded guilty because community leaders have urged him not to further aggravate unrest between the community and the police.
"Maybe a long trial was something I couldn't afford to do — pay lawyers and have the stress on my health," Bursztyn said.
But if the rabbi had so many "witnesses" to support his version of events, the trial should have been a slam dunk. Further, lower court cases rarely go on for extended periods of time. The trial could very well have lasted less than one week. Perhaps this bit of new information (shown after the plea by the rabbi's lawyer to the media in the rabbi's "defense"!) shed's some light on the rabbi's true motives:
A videotape from Menck's car, which Carluccio played for the Asbury Park Press Wednesday, showed that Menck told Bursztyn to back away from his niece's car and also not to approach the patrol car. It showed the rabbi walking away from his niece's car toward the patrol car, despite repeated orders from Menck to "walk away."
The tape, however, does not show what happened when the rabbi got to the patrol car, although it does record him asking for Menck's badge number and telling the officer that the woman he stopped was his niece.
This is entirely consistant with the police officer's report. The police claim that when the rabbi reached the potrol car, he asked for the officer's badge number, was order away by the officer, and the rabbi reached into the car and grabbed the officer's shirt (apparently in order to get the number off the officer's badge). The officer then did what every cop has been trained to do in a circumstance like this– he restrained the rabbi.
The rabbi clearly violated the law. He endangered himself and others by doing so. Yet he still believes he is innocent. Why?
Because haredim believe they are above the law – that secular law was not made for them. The rabbi's actions in this case are reflections of that belief. When the rabbi says his testimony in entering his guilty plea to obstuction of justice was technically truthful, but he doesn't believe he committed a crime, this is what he really means – I am above the law.
It is the haredi mantra – learn it well.