Meilech Schnitzler, the Satmar hasid who threw a cup of bleach in face of anti-child-sex-abuse activist Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in December 2012, is being sentenced in a Brooklyn criminal court this morning.
Above: Meilech Schnitzler
[Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg's victim's impact statement is posted in full at the bottom of this post]
Meilech Schnitzler, the Satmar hasid who threw a cup of bleach in face of anti-child-sex-abuse activist Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in December 2012, is being sentenced this morning in a Brooklyn court.
Schnitzler pleaded guilty earlier this year to one felony count of “intent to cause physical injury with a weapon” in a plea deal that is supposed to net Schnitzler – who ran across a busy street carrying the cup of bleach, ran up behind Rosenberg, tapped Rosenberg on the shoulder and threw the bleach in Rosenberg's face when Rosenberg turned around – a no-jail sentence.
This is a travesty of justice that calls the ability of new Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson to do his job into serious question.
Rosenberg is planning on making a victim's impact statement and notes that he "notified the court of his request to make a statement, by hand delivered letter, well in advance of the 10 day limit prescribed by law."
Rosenberg didn't lose his eyesight in the attack because a non-Jewish store owner rushed to him with a cup of clean water and helped Rosenberg flush his eye.
But Rosenberg suffered real damage, was treated in a hospital for it, and is still, 18 months after the attack, using prescribed eye drops and other medications to deal with the discomfort and aftereffects of the attack.
Here is Rabbi Rosenberg's victim's impact statement submitted to the court:
Prepared text of Victim Impact Statement by Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg
for the 6/18/14 sentencing of Meilech Schnitzler who assaulted him with bleach.
My legal name is Nathan Rosenberg but I am known by my Jewish name as Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg.
Defendant Meilech Schnitzler, with premeditation, threw a cup of bleach in my face and almost blinded me.
For over nine years I have publicly fought for protecting my community’s children from sexual abuse. I operate a Yiddish language hotline with recorded weekly lectures about how to prevent and prosecute child molestation. My hotline draws several thousand listeners each week from all over the world.
My assault was not a random event and its timing was not an accident. Schnitzler threw that cup of bleach into my face one day after the fifty-nine-count jury conviction of a Satmar Hasid, Rabbi Nechemya Weberman, for sexually assaulting a girl for two and half years, starting when she was twelve. I supported the victim who testified against Weberman, something that made me very unpopular in my Hasidic community.
In spite of what the defendant’s attorney claimed in an interview with the New York Times, his attack did not grow out of a heated exchange between me and Schnitzler.
On the day of the attack, I was walking in Williamsburg when Schnitzler saw me from the other side of the street. Holding a cup of bleach he ran across four lanes of busy traffic, tapped me on my shoulder, and when I turned around, tossed the bleach into my face.
The attack was premeditated. Why else would the defendant have pleaded guilty to the D Felony of “Intent to cause physical injury with a weapon?”
These facts were part of the grand jury testimony of an uninvolved bystander, Primo Santiago, the manager of Roebling Liquors, who also shared his version of the attack with the New York Times.
I was fortunate that bystanders helped me flush my eyes with water or I might have been blinded for life. But there is permanent damage to my left eye. I am still under the care of a specialist physician.
The DA’s office never consulted with me about the effects of my injury and yet told the New York Times reporter, Sharon Otterman, that my “injuries were not permanent.”
For years, I have been insulted, excommunicated, and, even physically attacked because of my anti-abuse activism. I am no exception. Anyone in my community who dares to cooperate with the criminal justice system gets the same treatment. When Schnitzler injured me, the defendant was a messenger of those in the Hasidic community who want to silence us.
Schnitzler is a respected member of Williamsburg’s Hasidic community. He is the sexton at a highly respected Satmar synagogue in Williamsburg which is affiliated with the school that referred child victims to Nechemya Weberman. After the attack, Schnitzler was hailed as a HERO.
I am very disappointed with the plea deal the Office of the District Attorney made with Schnitzler under which he will not spend a single day in prison. The DA shortchanged me, justice, and the interests of children who are sexually abused by not bringing this case to trial.
I was ready to testify and I met with ADA Ari Farkas several times to prepare for the trial. I was not expecting a plea bargain when I came to this courthouse on April 29th. I thought I was going to observe yet another pre-trial court appearance by the Schnitzler. Instead I was told the plea bargain was a done-deal just minutes before it was entered. ADA Farkas violated the normal DA practice when he didn’t give me advance notice of any proposed plea bargain and he didn’t seek my consent.
This plea bargain has compounded the damage of my assault. The day after this deal was announced, I was pelted with rocks by a gang of teenage boys, as I was passing near one of the Satmar synagogues in Williamsburg. One of the teens, with the support of his friends, yelled at me, “Ha, Ha, Schnitzler is going free!”
Your Honor, if it is in your power, I beg you to void this plea bargain and make this case to go to trial.
In 2009, Brooklyn ADA Kevin O’Donnell addressed the court about Yona Weinberg, an orthodox sex offender seeking a sentence with no jail time. ADA O’Donnel said: “it would send a very bad message … to the community… and the victims.”
Judge Guston Reichbach, may he rest in peace, agreed. According to the Jewish Week, he said “there is going to be a jail sentence in this case because anything less, I believe, would offend not only the appropriate sense of justice but would also… indicate to the victims here… that… what happened to them was not important, was not significant.”
Your Honor, if you cannot void this plea deal, I beg you to at least send a message to the community and the District Attorney in your sentencing statement that this sort of conduct and these sorts of plea deals are no longer OK. Please let my community know that you feel this sort of violence needs to be taken more seriously.
The reign of violence in my community aimed at children and their protectors must be ended. Those of us in the Hasidic community willing to cooperate with the criminal justice system are entitled to protection from violence and intimidation. If not for my sake, for the sake of our children, please let the world know that our children will not be abandoned to those who would abuse them and protect their molesters. Please help make all of Brooklyn a safe place for children and those who fight for them.
Update 10:44 am CDT – Rosenberg was allowed to give a victim's impact statement, but the judge apparently forbade him to read aloud the parts that criticized the DA or spoke of the negative impact the plea deal has on the community and on Jews anti-abuse activists.