Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes continues to refuse to reveal the names of 85 Orthodox Jewish child molesters his office claims have been arrested and charged through the Kol Tzedek program, a confidential hotline it established in March 2009. Even though Hynes’ office has explained this refusal by citing the confidentiality rights of the victims, four press releases it issued as recently as 2010 naming convicted child molesters from the Brooklyn Orthodox community were issued by Hynes' office. Why?
Hella Winston reports in The Jewish Week:
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes continues to refuse to reveal the names of 85 Orthodox Jewish child molesters his office claims have been arrested and charged through the Kol Tzedek program, a confidential hotline it established in March 2009.
Yet while Hynes’ office has explained this refusal by citing the confidentiality rights of the victims, The Jewish Week has uncovered four press releases it issued as recently as 2010 naming convicted child molesters from the Brooklyn Orthodox community.…
For example, in June 2009 — two months after the formation of the Kol Tzedek program — the DA issued press releases about the convictions of two men from the Brooklyn Orthodox community: Bernard Mutterperl and Yona Weinberg, whom the DA’s press release described as a “bar mitzvah tutor and licensed social worker.” It also released a statement about a guilty plea by Stefan Colmer, who fled from Brooklyn to Israel but was extradited back to Brooklyn in 2009 under what the DA noted was a “new extradition treaty” with Israel. In 2010, the office released information on the conviction of Baruch Lebovits, characterized as a “rabbi and prominent businessman in the community.”
An e-mail to [the DA’s spokesman Jerry] Schmetterer asking whether the DA’s policy on the release of this kind of information has changed recently received no response.…
The lack of transparency on the part of Hynes’ office is troubling to those who specialize in issues related to access to public information.
“As long as the case files are available at the courthouse, [the DA] is complying with the letter of the First Amendment,” said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “[But] we always find it unfortunate when an elected official complies only narrowly with the letter of the law. We feel that the judicial system can work only with complete disclosure so that citizens are confident about what the government is doing in their name.”
This information blackout is also disturbing to abuse survivors and advocates. Tim Walsh, an advocate and survivor of clergy abuse who has lobbied for years in Albany to strengthen laws protecting children, told The Jewish Week that, “I was raped by a ‘man of God’ [who was protected by the church]. And to think that now our civil system is protecting molesters [by not releasing their names] ... because of politics ... it’s another level of betrayal and loss of power.”
Walsh continued, “The DA’s [refusal to release these names] is scary, an elected official who is supposed to protect all the people is protecting the few. It is unconscionable.”
Read the entire Jewish Week report here.
I would add that the pedophiles whose names were released by Hynes are, with the exception of Lebovits, not well connected within the haredi community.
They aren't from important families and they did not hold any important positions – or any position, for that matter – with haredi yeshivas linked to powerful haredi rabbinic families.
Colmer is a ba'al teshuva and was afollower of the one of the weaker haredi rosh yeshivas, Mutterperl doesn't have a beard and doesn't look haredi – this is also true with regard to Andrew Goodman, mentioned in a recent NY Post story – and Weinberg was a loner.
Lebovits was a travel agent. He didn't work as a rabbi or a cantor.
Other than Goodman, who once worked as a low wage PCA at an Ohel group home, none of these men worked for Jewish organization or taught in haredi yeshivas.
Haredi yeshivas are often nonprofits in name only. Their boards rubberstamp the decisions of the rosh yeshiva. He "owns" the yeshiva and fills its staff with family members and friends.
A teacher in one of these yeshivas who is caught raping a child in that yeshiva puts those family businesses masquerading as nonprofits at risk – especially of the yeshiva failed to take normal precautions to protect its young students, and even more so if it had mishandled previous reports of possible child sex abuse.
And because these rosh yeshivas are considered to be "gdolim," and many sit on Agudath Israel of America's Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, Council of Torah Sages, the stink rises to Agudah itself.
Or, in the case of Satmar yeshivas, the stink would rise to UTA, Satmar's yeshiva nonprofit, and from there directly to ta Satmar Rebbe.
I think this is one reason why Hynes won't release some of those names and case numbers.
And then, of course, there is the other reason he won't do so – the sweetheart deals he gives haredi pedophiles would be exposed, and Hynes could be (and should be, and may soon be, despite his coverup) in very deep trouble with voters and with law enforcement.
Update 5:31 pm – The four pedophiles referred to in the JW article were all reported directly to police by their victim(s), as steve notes in the comments below. The victims did not go to Kol Tzedek and Kol Tzedek was therefore unable to hide the names of the pedophiles because police and the media already knew about them.
This may also account for why the DA released information about the four men.
But there is no record of the DA asking the press to withhold their names to protect the victims, something he should have done if the story he now tells is true.