Loophole In Statute Of Limitations Allows Alleged Chabad Pedophile To Escape Punishment
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Writing for The Jewish Week, Hella Winston reports that an alleged child sex abuse victim believes he had to resort to filing a FOIL request to find out the status his case.
Schneur Borenstein says that after repeated requests to Brooklyn’s DA for information on the status of his case, he filed a FOIL request and obtained a heavily redacted memo written by the DA’s office.
The memo shows his first contact with the DA’s office was with Henna White, a Chabad follower who is the DA’s Jewish liaison. White also helps run Kol Tzedek, a special program for haredim that allows them to confidentially report child sex abuse to the DA, bypassing police and child welfare. Haredim who report through Kol Tzedek get special treatment and the names, case status and other information about alleged – and even about convicted – haredi child sexual abusers are kept from the public.
Brooklyn’s DA, Charles Hynes, and his office have refused to identify 89 haredi individuals accused of child sex abuse Hynes claims his office has processed over the past three years. There is no way for the public to determine if Hynes is telling the truth.
What activists and victims fear is that Hynes’ office is allowing many haredi pedophiles to plead to misdemeanors rather than felonies, and recommending probation rather than prison. Because misdemeanor convictions do not require sex offender registration, Hynes’ feared handling of thee cases would put pedophiles back in haredi neighborhoods. And haredi parents would have no warning.
Borenstein went to the DA’s office and spoke with White not long before he turned 22. The abuse Borenstein alleges took place when he was 13. There was a significant time gap between reporting the alleged abuse to White and meeting with the actual prosecutors who would prosecute the case. The length of time Borenstein was made to wait is not specified in the memo.
If that abuse was a felony, the DA would have until Borenstein’s 23 birthday to file a case.
But if the abuse was a misdemeanor, the statute of limitations would expire faster – two years after the age of majority, not five. Then Borenstein would have missed the cutoff by almost two years, and the DA would have been unable to bring a case against the alleged abuser unless other victims within the statute of limitations came forward.
The memo shows that DA’s office knew of another person who was allegedly abused by the same rabbi. That person’s name is on the memo and is not redacted.
When asked by The Jewish Week if his office had discussed pressing charges with that other person, the DA’s spokesperson replied that “no allegations that were viable that we could take to court and get a charge filed.
“I don’t understand why people believe that we don’t pursue these cases,” the spokesperson added. “We have something like 89 cases.”
According to the memo, the abuse involved the rabbi – who held a senior rosh yeshiva position in Crown Heights and who is named in the memo and by The Jewish Week – allegedly fondling Borenstein’s genitals with his hand while Borenstein was sleeping, which woke Borenstein.
Despite Borenstein’s allegations, no charges were filed by the DA.
The Jewish Week reports that the heavily redacted memo memo does not explain why no charges were brought, but it notes that scrawled on a corner of the memo is a note. Most of it has been blotted out by Hynes’ office. But two words remain clearly visible: “No felony.”
Borenstein told the The Jewish Week that the assistant district attorneys assigned his case told him that it was a “weak felony” and that he had “difficulty extracting any information [from the DA’s office] at all about the status of his case.” Eventually, Borenstein says he filed a FOIL request to get answers. He received the heavily redacted memo from that request.
The DA’s office told The Jewish Week that the case could not be prosecuted because the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor is two years.
New York State law classifies forcible touching as sexual abuse in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor. If Borenstein had been less than 13 at the time of the alleged abuse (or if he had been 11 with the perpetrator being under 21), the abuse would have been classified as a felony, and the case could have been prosecuted.
Hynes has claimed that he withholds information on convicted or pleaded out haredi pedophile because releasing that information would reveal the pedophiles’ victims, a claim that is widely ridiculed by privacy experts, legal scholars and many victims themselves, and many fear Hynes is using this as an excuse to protect haredi pedophiles and to appease their rabbis.
Oddly, according to The Jewish Week, the memo Borenstein obtained contains Borenstein’s name and the name of the other person alleged to have been molested by the rabbi, along with the rabbi’s name and the yeshiva he taught at.
None of them are redacted.
However, it appears that other information about the rabbi is.