Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth “Ken” Thompson has opened an investigation into witness tampering in the Rabbi Baruch Lebovits child sex abuse case abuse case. But will the investigation be thorough and complete? Some observers don't think it will.
Above: file photo of Ken Thompson, right; Satmar powerbroker Rabbi Moshe "Gabbai" Friedman, left
DA Reportedly Launches Haredi Child Sex Abuse Witness Tampering Investigation
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth “Ken” Thompson has opened an investigation into witness tampering in the Rabbi Baruch Lebovits child sex abuse case abuse case, The Jewish Week reported this afternoon.
The move comes years after the alleged witness tampering by Lebovits supporters and his took place and 15 months after Thompson – who is seen as being soft on haredi crime – took office, even though the DA’s office allegedly had the information for several years.
No explanation has been given for the delay, but the action against the alleged witness tamperers appears to coincide with an attempt by Thompson to be named to replace former DA Loretta Lynch.
Witness intimidation is a significant impediment to getting haredi victims to report crimes to law enforcement. Even so, few people are ever prosecuted for these crimes.
A spokesperson for Thompson declined to answer the Jewish Week’s questions about their investigation into this alleged witness intimidation.
But Sam Kellner’s attorney, Niall MacGiollabhui, would comment.
Kellner was falsely accused by the former DA, Charles J. Hynes, of trying to extort Lebovits over the child sex abuse cases. Much of the evidence against Kellner came directly from the Lebovits family and Lebovits’ attorneys, and was shown to be unreliable at best.
“We know that [prominent Satmar hasid Zalmen] Ashkenazi and others, such as [Orthodox private investigator] Joe Levin, who helped a serial rapist of children evade justice, are just the tip of the iceberg,” MacGiollabhui, said. Levin admitted last November in a New Yorker Magazine article that, while working for the Lebovitses, he illegally bugged Kellner’s van. “The test for the district attorney,” MacGiollabhui noted, “is whether the full extent of what lurks beneath will be exposed.”
Ros Dann, a spokesperson for Survivors for Justice, doubted the real perpetrators of the witness intimidation in the Lebovits/Kellner cases would be prosecuted.
“We have been waiting impatiently for this DA to prosecute the bad actors who perverted justice in the Lebovits and Kellner cases. Unfortunately, based upon his performance to date, we are anticipating, if anything, the prosecution of a low-level scapegoat, as opposed to the powerful people who are really behind what went on in these cases, and what continues to go on. We call upon DA Thompson to demonstrate that he won’t tolerate the witness intimidation and obstruction of justice that prevents sex abuse victims from reporting these crimes to the police,” Dann said.
You can read the entire Jewish Week report here.