Charges against Rabbi Meilech Spitzer, a 60-year-old Satmar yeshiva principal accused of assaulting a young student, were dismissed earlier today after the boy and his parents refused to sign a complaint and the local district attorney failed to find another way to prosecute him.
Charges Against Satmar Principal Who Beat Student Dropped, Despite Evidence Against Him
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
In Rockland County, beating a teacher beating a defenseless little boy in a yeshiva classroom does not necessarily result in a prison sentence – or even a trial.
Charges against Rabbi Meilech Spitzer, a 60-year-old Satmar yeshiva principal accused of assaulting a young student, were dismissed earlier today after the boy and his parents refused to sign a complaint, the Journal News reported, and the local district attorney failed to find another way to prosecute him.
Spitzer, the long-time principal of Satmar’s United Talmudical Academy in Rockland County, had been charged with slapping a 10-year-old student so hard that the child had visible bruises to an eye and ear, and swelling to the side of his face.
Spitzer was charged in February with third-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors.
Justice Alan Simon dismissed the charges today because prosecutors and police could not get a signed criminal complaint from the child or his parents.
While some, including the allegedly weak local district attorney who is said to be under the thumb of powerful haredi rabbis who wield their communities' bloc votes like swords, claim that there is no legal way to prosecute Spitzer if the victim or his family refuse to cooperate, others disagree.
But even if the D.A. is correct, it does not necessarily follow that the order of protection barring Spitzer from having contact with the boy should be lifted.
Even so, Judge Simon lifted it despite copious evidence that Spitzer harmed the child.
Robert Conklin, Spitzer’s attprney moved for the dismissal of the charges because 90 days had passed without a move by the D.A. to bring the case to court and because the charges against Spitzer were “hearsay.”
“[For the case to continue, prosecutors] must file a supporting deposition signed by an individual who experienced the incident first-hand,” Conklin told the judge.
“The people did try to prosecute this case. We were not able to convince the family,” an executive district attorney, Gary Lee Heavner, told the judge.
Hasidic communities like Satmar are rife with intimidation, retaliation, shunning and bullying of victims and their families who cooperate with police investigations and prosecutions.
So far, neither the Rockland County district attorney or his Brooklyn counterpart have done much to prosecute hasidim who threaten, extort, punish or attempt to bribe victims and witnesses.
In much celebrated case, Brooklyn’s D.A., Charles J. Hynes, indicted four Satmar hasidim for illegally tampering with the victim in the Nechemya Weberman child sex abuse case and her now-husband.
But after the spotlight dimmed, Hynes allowed three of the men to plead guilty to low level misdemeanors and receive extremely light sentences. The fourth victim, who faces much more serious charges, has allegedly been told that after the fall elections (unless those elections unseat Hynes) he will be allowed to plead out to a much lesser charge and receive little or no prison time.
Despite the rampant and clear violations of the law, Rockland County and neighboring Orange County (the location of the Satmar Village of Kiryas Joel) have never prosecuted a hasid for intimidation, coercion or bribery of a hasidic victim of hasidic crime or of a witness supporting such a victim.
[Hat Tip: Devorah.]