The Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes continues to prosecute Sam Kellner, despite the mounting evidence that Kellner was set up by the family and friends of accused pedophile Rabbi Baruch Lebovits. Now The Jewish Week has discovered more evidence that exonerates Kellner – evidence the DA allegedly was given but chose (probably ilegally) to disregard.
The Jewish Week reports:
New evidence has emerged that could deal a serious blow to Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ case against Sam Kellner, a chasidic Borough Park resident who was charged with extortion and perjury after he helped to convict a fellow chasid, Baruch Lebovits, on sex abuse charges.
The evidence, obtained by The Jewish Week, is an audiotape on which a young man [“Yoel”] makes statements that undermine his previous claims that Kellner paid him to fabricate allegations of sex abuse. The young man also makes statements indicating that powerful members of his own community pressured him to accuse Kellner of perjury.…
The new audiotape, made by an acquaintance of Yoel after Kellner’s arrest, not only further supports Kellner’s claims of innocence, but raises additional questions about the DA’s handling of the allegations against him. The acquaintance, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, had been told repeatedly by Yoel about his abuse at the hands of Lebovits, and made the tape after trying unsuccessfully to alert the DA that Yoel was falsely accusing Kellner.
“I called the DA’s office — I didn’t give my name but said I had information that Kellner was innocent of these charges,” the friend told The Jewish Week.
“I was transferred from one place to another, and finally I got someone who told me, ‘We’re not interested. We are the prosecution; we are prosecuting Kellner. Go talk to his lawyer.”
Asked about this person’s account, a spokesman for the district attorney told The Jewish Week, “We know nothing about this.”…
Yoel’s acquaintance turned over the recording to Rabbi Chaim Flohr and his beit din, the same religious court that had given Kellner permission to report his son’s abuse to the police. The tape was then shared with The Jewish Week.
During the conversation, which is in Yiddish and was translated by a native Yiddish speaker for the paper, Yoel makes statements that indicate he first disclosed his abuse by Lebovits to people within his community around the time he was 16 or 17 — several years before he ever met Kellner. This is consistent with information obtained by The Jewish Week that Yoel first sought help around this same time from Rabbi Shraga Hager, also known as the Kosover Rebbe, for depression related to his abuse by Lebovits. (Rabbi Hager is the rabbi who ultimately gave Yoel permission to make a police report about Lebovits several years later). It also comports with an account by the Vaad that Yoel first approached them around this same time with these allegations, and even e-mailed them a photo of Lebovits to positively identify him as his abuser. These statements seem to undermine Yoel’s claims that Kellner paid him to lie about being abused by Lebovits.
At another point on the tape, Yoel says that a powerful community activist named Zalmen Ashkenazi “got him out” of testifying against Lebovits. He also states that Ashkenazi hired an attorney for him and “made him” go against Kellner. (Zalmen’s brother, Berel, was a character witness for Lebovits at trial, where it emerged that Berel was also an alleged child molester). Yoel’s story comports with DA records that note that when Yoel made allegations against Kellner, he did so in the presence of an attorney. At another point on the tape, Yoel says that if Zalmen ever “turns on him,” he would accuse Zalmen of molesting him.…
[A]n experienced sex crimes detective, Steve Litwin, and the district attorney’s own sex crimes prosecutors had found Yoel to be a credible witness against Lebovits. Further, a close friend of Yoel’s gave a statement, obtained by The Jewish Week, to a DA investigator indicating that Lebovits’ eldest daughter had intimidated Yoel into backing out of the Lebovits prosecution by threatening to have him arrested for molesting boys.
Rackets Bureau prosecutors are also in possession of a videotape on which Zev claims that Yoel was “terrorized” by members of the Lebovits family after he decided to press charges against Lebovits. And then there are notes, written by Litwin, detailing attempts by Berel Ashkenazi and another man to persuade Zev to drop his charges in exchange for money. Sex crimes prosecutors also have a psak, or rabbinical ruling, made at the behest of Berel Ashkenazi and signed by a rabbi, prohibiting Zev from adjudicating his case against Lebovits in secular court. (This document was used to impeach Berel’s credibility as a witness for Lebovits at trial, but was not used by the DA’s office to charge Berel with witness tampering).…
The jewish Week also makes the very valid point that Hynes has not prosecuted any of this witness tampering and extortion of witnesses, even though he has direct evidence of it.
Only Kellner – who clearly was set up by the Lebovits family with the help of friends and perhaps a P.I. and who clearly appears to be innocent – has been indicted.
Read it all here.