Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, a haredi teacher and camp counselor with a long history of alleged child sexual abuse covering four decades, escaped a prison sentence in 2008 when Brooklyn’s ethically challenged District Attorney Charles Hynes gave Kolko what some observers say was the sweetheart plea deal of the decade. But now he may go to prison because of the courage of a 13-year-old boy.
Courage Shown By A Little Boy May Finally Land A Notorious Haredi Child Molester In Prison
Shmarya Rosenberg • Failedmessiah.com
He may finally go to prison.
Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, a haredi teacher and camp counselor with a long history of alleged child sexual abuse covering four decades, escaped a prison sentence in 2008 when Brooklyn’s ethically challenged District Attorney Charles Hynes gave Kolko what some observers say was the sweetheart plea deal of the decade.
Kolko, who allegedly fondled the genitals of two first graders while rubbing his erect penis against their clothed bodies, got 3 years probation and escaped sex offender registration because, Hynes claimed, neither of the victims’ families wanted their little boys to testify in court.
But that appears to have been a lie, as Hella Winston reminds us in The Jewish Week:
…The Jewish Week reported at the time [of the plea deal] that both families claimed they were willing to have their sons testify. The paper also obtained a letter to the district attorney, written by one of the fathers to the district attorney and dated one day after he signed off on the plea deal, that “[m]y son was ready to go to trial and we feel he would have done an excellent job and I am sorry to hear that [the case against] Joel Kolko will not proceed further.”…
Now Kolko is on trial again, this time for allegedly violating a protection order by menacing one of those two victims, who is now 13-years-old. If convicted, he could spend up to one year in prison.
Kolko allegedly folded his arms and assumed a menacing pose while glaring at the boy on two successive Sabbaths as the boy and his father walked to synagogue in a Brooklyn neighborhood where they had moved after the first trial. Kolko had by then reportedly left Brooklyn and was living in Lakewood, New Jersey.
After the boy’s family moved, Kolko returned to Brooklyn and made his new home nearby the boy's family.
He then began menacing the boy, appearing on the street close to the boy’s home even though Kolko did not need to pass by there to get to his own home or to his synagogue.
Jeffrey Schwartz, Kolko’s attorney, denies that kolko menaced the boy. At one point Schwartz claimed that all Kolko had done was wish the boy and his father a gut Shabbos, a good Sabbath.
Winston reports that the jury has not been allowed to hear why the order of protection is in place, and has not been told anything about the sexual abuse the boy and his first grade classmate at Yeshiva Torah Temimah, the haredi yeshiva where Kolko taught, suffered. The two boys could have testified that Kolko, who was then the boy’s teacher, fondled their genitals.
However, as the trial went on prosecutors argued that Schwartz's questioning had "opened the door" and that the truth of Kolko's background should be allowed in as a result. The judge agreed that Schwartz had indeed "opened that door," and responded by allowing the boy’s father to testify that his son told him about “wrongful acts” allegedly done to the boy by Kolko before the order of protection was put in place. But no specific information about what those wrongful acts were was allowed in.
“I felt real good because what Kolko did to me and many boys was wrong. I always thought judges were very mean,” the boy told Winston after testifying. “But this judge was very understanding to me and I felt protected.”
Allegations that Kolko was sexually abusing children were known to haredi community leaders and rabbis for several decades. The vast majority ignored the allegations. Others – like haredi leader Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg – actively covered up the abuse.
The trial will resume Monday.