A secretly recorded audiotape made under the supervision of NYPD Detective Steve Litwin in September 2008 recorded a conversation between the notorious alleged haredi pedophile Rabbi Baruch Lebovits and one of his alleged victims. On this tape Lebovits appears to admit his guilt.
Tape Allegedly Records Notorious Haredi Pedophile Rabbi Baruch Lebovits Admitting Guilt
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A secretly recorded audiotape made under the supervision of NYPD Detective Steve Litwin in September 2008 recorded a conversation between the notorious alleged haredi pedophile Rabbi Baruch Lebovits and one of his alleged victims.
On that tape, Lebovits appears to admit the abuse, The Jewish Week reported this afternoon.
But the tape was not used by the District Attorney, Charles J. Hynes, at Lebovits’ trial – perhaps because his official translator, who is reportedly not a native Yiddish speaker, could not understand all of what was being said. (An informal translation also made for the prosecution by a native Yiddish speaker is reportedly much more complete.)
Lebovits was convicted anyway and sentenced to up to 32 years in prison. But that verdict overturned in August 2012 on a technicality – and error made by Hynes’ prosecutors. Hynes has publicly promised to retry Lebovits but has done little to make that new trial happen.
Multiple e-mails from The Jewish Week’s Hella Winston to Hynes’ spokespeople “seeking an explanation for why the tape was not used at trial, and whether it will be used in the upcoming retrial, were not answered,” Winston reported.
The Jewish Week was able to get a transcript of that Yiddish tape. On it, the alleged victim tells Lebovits that others, including a staffer in New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s office, had heard that something “happened between us.”
(Hikind repprtedly confirmed to The Jewish Week that the young man captured on the recording talking to Lebovits did share allegations against Lebovits with Hikind’s office.)
“You didn’t tell anyone what went on between us?,” the alleged victim asks Lebovits.
“I didn’t say anything,” Lebovits replies.
“[It could have been the other boy] who was then in the car together with us…[and] saw the incident,” the alleged victim says.
(Police records reportedly show that Lebovits often allegedly molested boys in the front seat of his car. On some of those occasions, a second boy was sitting in the car’s back seat.)
According to the informal translation, which according to the Jewish Week is written in Litwin’s hand, Lebovits replies that the other boy “wasn’t present.”
“You don’t remember. Yes he was present,” the alleged victim says.
Lebovits then tells the alleged victim to “go ask [the boy] if he gave out [the alleged victim’s] name.”
(These comments from the informal translation do not appear in the certified translation in which a number of lines of dialogue are reportedly described as “unintelligible.”)
The alleged victim eventually tells Lebovits that the case may be “given over to the police.”
Lebovits tells the alleged victim to “deny it” if that happens.
Lebovits’ appellate attorney, Nathan Dershowitz, confirmed to The Jewish Week that Hynes’ office disclosed a transcript of the audiotape – a tape Dershowitz reportedly called “innocuous.”
However, it remains unclear whether the D.A. disclosed the recording itself to the defense.
Arthur Aidala, Lebovits’ trial attorney and a close supporter and friend of D.A. Charles J. Hynes, reportedly did not respond to an e-mail from The Jewish Week seeking regarding this.
Hynes apparent failure to turn over an actual copy of the recoding to the defense is unprecedented, a legal expert told The Jewish Week.
“There may be reasons why the DA would not introduce the recording [at trial],” but that does not explain why the DA [apparently] did not disclose the recording to the defense.
“A recording made of the defendant at the behest of the police must be disclosed to the defense irrespective of whether the DA intends to introduce it at trial. I have never heard of a situation in which defense counsel, aware of his client being recorded at the behest of police, simply relied on a transcript prepared by the DA rather than demanding production of the actual recording.
“As transcribed [by the prosecution’s translators], the recording appears to have significant evidentiary value to the prosecution. Innocent men generally don’t speak in the manner attributed to Lebovits in the recording, and a jury hearing a defendant voluntarily incriminate himself in his own voice in a non-coercive atmosphere is powerful evidence,” former Manhattan prosecutor and defense attorney Mark Bederow reportedly told the paper.
At trial, it emerged that prosecutors had failed to turn over in a timely manner a complete set of notes of the complaining witness’ statements to the police as required by law.
Based on this Rosario violation, Lebovits’ attorneys made a motion to the trial judge to declare a mistrial. The judge denied that motion and attempted to remedy the Rosario violation by recalling the one complaining witness who had actually testified and allowing Lebovits’ attorneys to cross-examine him about the newly disclosed notes.
That decision eventually led to the appellate court’s decision to overturn the guilty verdict.
It ruled that prosecutors’ failure to turn over those notes “substantially prejudiced the defendant.” Even so, it also found that the evidence against Lebovits was legally sufficient to establish Lebovits’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The court also noted that it was “satisfied that the verdict of guilt was not against the weight of the evidence.”
Prosecutors originally had “three within-the-statute-of-limitations witnesses against Lebovits, all of whom had sought and obtained rabbinic backing to report their abuse to the police. One of those witnesses abruptly dropped out of the case before trial, and there is substantial evidence to indicate that he was intimidated into doing so by Lebovits’ supporters,” Winston reported.
Even so, Hynes never brought witness-tampering charges against the Lebovits supporters involved in that alleged intimidation.