Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes met with a few members of the Jewish community at a closed-door lunch Monday amid mounting pressure from critics who say he has been lax in prosecuting alleged sex abuse in the ultra-Orthodox community.
The DA’s office confirmed the meeting Monday took place, but declined to specify what was discussed.
It was not a meeting with the law enforcement task force assembled last month to address victim intimidation in the ultra-Orthodox community, they said, and it came a day after Hynes attended a public meeting in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, about how to prevent child sex abuse in the community.
“It’s clear there been a shift and greater urgency in the DA’s office. How that’s going to come out in real terms, we’ll see,” said Rabbi Yosef Blau, who joined Hynes on Sunday at a meeting with advocates and victims of sex abuse. “He talks seriously about doing something about those that intimated witnesses.”
Blau said he communicated to the DA’s office that its task force should include someone “who has the support and trust of survivors of abuse and people who advocate for them.”
The DA’s office said it does work with various members of the Jewish community.
Hynes has called the intimidation of victims in the Jewish community worse than the mob. 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.
"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 reported last month that Hynes failed to intervene when Ultra-Orthodox leaders told him victims needed to get approval from their rabbi before going to secular authorities.
Hynes has defended his record.