Brooklyn DA: Intimidation in Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Sex Abuse Cases Worse Than Mob Cases

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes (Karly Domb Sadof/WNYC)

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes continued to defend his office's record on sex abuse cases in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community at an unrelated press conference Wednesday. He said the victim intimidation in that community is worse than what he's seen in organized crime and police corruption cases over his nearly two-decade career.

"I haven't seen this kind of intimidation in organized crime cases or police corruption, and the reason for that is in organized crime cases, I can get witness protection," Hynes said. "In police intimidation cases, I can protect them as well."

The New York Times and some Jewish publications reported that Hynes doesn't pursue sexual abuse cases against Ultra-Orthodox Jewish suspects as aggressively as he does others because of his political ties to the community.  The reports have also claimed Hynes failed to intervene when an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish organization told him that followers had to get permission from a rabbi before reporting allegations of sex abuse to authorities.

Hynes has maintained that a significant hurdle in sex abuse cases involving Orthodox Jews is that the community cares more about protecting suspects than victims. 

"These victims don't believe they have anywhere else to turn. They live in this community, they want to continue to live in this community, and they want to live at peace. And they're not allowed to live at peace because no one gives a damn about victims. All they care about is protecting the abuser," Hynes said.

He called the effort of the community to protect possible abusers "relentless."

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, the executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, a powerful ultra-Orthodox organization, could not be reached for comment. In the past, however, he said people need to be cautious over allegations of abuse because a person’s life can be ruined by a false report. Last year, his organization said observant Jews should not report any allegations to authorities unless the first speak to a rabbi.”

As to the claim that Hynes is soft on crimes in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, he pointed to his prosecution record.

“I really showed my gratitude to the ultra-Orthodox community with more Ultra-Orthodox prosecutions than any prosecutor in this whole country," he told reporters.  "You don’t think I have a monopoly on ultra-Orthodox people, do you?”

Hynes is pushing for legislation that would require rabbis and other religious leaders to report allegations of child sex abuse to authorities and has assembled a task force to target known victim intimidators within the Ultra-Orthodox community.


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Comments [5]

Deanna Johnston Clark from Savannah GA

The Bible is full of dismal stories of superstition...
To believe that a community or institution deserves more loyalty that God is superstitious.
I'm Catholic, and like many others, have had to question deeply whether I really know and love God...what God's character truly loyal I should be to the church when it hides crimes, hurts children.
The answer is in the first Grandmother said it every night before sleeping and it is perfect for our times.

Dec. 17 2013 02:16 PM
John Bernadyn from Chicago, IL

United Advocacy Group, Inc.
John Bernadyn, Managing Partner

Troubled Jewish Teenager Describes Horrors of Growing Up in Foster Care

(CHICAGO) – As an innocent twelve year old boy, John Bernadyn was taken from his dysfunctional home and placed in to the youth welfare system of the state. “Freedom often comes with a price,” recalls Bernadyn.
After spending many years lacking sleep, recalling horrible memories, and avoiding social situations he published a memoir entitled, Betrayed By The State: A Ward of the State Speaks Out. “These horrors won’t stop with me. Every parent needs to know that they are at risk of hearing these stories from their children – if the state so chooses to remove them from their home,” said Bernadyn. The statistics do seem to warrant his statement. While many organizations spend time campaigning or boasting about the positive outcomes for those having grown up in the foster care system, the silent majority go unheard.
Shortly after arriving in his first foster care situation he contacted his child welfare caseworker to lodge a formal complaint. This started a six year journey of transfers from placement to placement that would ultimately land him in what he describes as ‘hell’ – including all the torments of physical and sexual violence. His final stop prior to exiting the system would be to live with youth from the department of corrections with serious problems. “I had to grow up rapidly in order to survive this situation.”
In Bernadyn’s account he alleges that the child welfare system was unresponsive to his needs and the needs of those around him. In fact, he says, “They ultimately stopped taking my calls.” He is grateful to the final judge he met and ultimately released him from these horrors in a heart-wrenching and detailed account of the courtroom scenario.
The successful twist is what does not get discussed in Bernadyn’s memoir. Bernadyn would later become a successful healthcare executive and managing partner of United Advocacy Group, Inc. Although calling Chicago his home, he travels extensively for speaking engagements and healthcare consulting. He may be reached at or (312) 489-0632.

Nov. 04 2012 01:49 PM
RMarie Quartermane

In singular cases where there is only one abuser it is difficult to get the child past the fear but having been trafficked in a sex ring for 8 years I fully understand why they are silent. These 'people' need to stopped.

Using God as an excuse is unfathomable

May. 31 2012 01:38 PM
Judy Jones from Missouri

Hynes excuses just don't cut it... It is way past time to start protecting innocent children from being sexually abused within any organization.
Children never deserve to be given the life sentence of being raped, sodomized, and molested. It does tremendous harm.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims.
SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 12,000 members. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers and increasingly, victims who were assaulted in a wide range of institutional settings like summer camps, athletic programs, Boy Scouts, etc. Our website is

May. 31 2012 10:41 AM
Jeanette Friedman Sieradski from oldtime Crown Heights

perhaps the first thing Hynes should do is arrest Dovid Zweibel, Yaakov Perlow and the others who decided that you have to call a rebbe before you dial 911 for obstruction of justice. Not ruining perpetrators lives is the reason that a rebbitzen high up gave me when I heard that three boys in her brother's "community"raped a 10-year-old because his mother was a convert and his father was a "returnee." The 10-year-old committed suicide, and the perps never saw the inside of Spofford or a detention cell. That was about 10 years ago. Now those rapists are married and having kids. And whose lives are going to be ruined? Their children's lives. Are they going to rape their own kids? Are they raping their wives? Who let these animals loose? The community. And they continue to do so. Anyone who does not call 911 and calls a rebbe should also be prosecuted.

May. 31 2012 07:41 AM

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