How the Brooklyn D.A. covers-up Orthodox child molesters, 2 of 2
This is the second in a 2-part series
In my first article, I wrote how a year and a half ago I made a public record request for the photos and arrest reports of 15 Orthodox men convicted by the Brooklyn D.A. The D.A. refused to give me any of the information that I requested.
Last week, I made a new Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the Brooklyn D.A. (Brooklyn D.A. FOIL request) I asked for the photo, arrest report, case disposition (the court’s decision) and length of jail time served (if any) of 29 Orthodox individuals arrested for, or convicted of, child sex crimes by the Brooklyn D.A.
The following day, the D.A.’s office sent me a 3-page letter denying every request, for every individual. They refused to reveal to me a single case disposition or tell me how long a convicted Orthodox child molester spent in jail or even if they went to jail.
In 80% of the more than 3 dozen Orthodox convictions that I investigated in Brooklyn, the molester received probation or only a few months of jail time. By contrast, even though Federal child sex crimes are not necessarily more severe or heinous than the ones prosecuted by the Brooklyn D.A., every Federal conviction of an Orthodox child molester that I could find resulted in jail time, usually for many years.
As to my request for the molester’s photos, the D.A. told me that they would make me wait 6 months before releasing them to me. I filed an appeal of this ridiculous stonewalling and the D.A.’s office rejected my appeal.
New York’s public records law requires that documents be given to the requester within 20 days or “within a reasonable period” – Public Officer’s Law 89(3). Having public access to governmental records is a fundamental right of American citizens. This is the only way we can know what our government is doing and be able to hold officials accountable.
There is nothing “reasonable” about withholding photos of convicted Orthodox child molesters for 6 months. There is no justification for refusing to release conviction information about Orthodox child molesters or informing me of how much time they spent in jail, if any. In the time it took the D.A.’s office to write their 3-page laundry list of excuses of why they aren’t going to comply with the law, they could have instead provided me with the records that I requested.
Not only does current Brooklyn D.A. Kenneth Thompson refuse to release public records of Orthodox child molesters requested under FOIL, Thompson is also ethically-challenged in other ways.
Just last week, Thompson was fined $15,000 by the New York City Conflicts of Interests Board for using New York City police officers as his personal waiters and delivery boys to buy him thousands of dollars of meals, all at taxpayer expense. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/nyregion/ken-thompson-brooklyn-district-attorney-conflict-of-interest-case.html
When Kenneth Thompson ran for office, he promised to change the corrupt ways of his predecessor, Charles Hynes. “For his part, Thompson openly criticized Hynes’ record on crimes committed by the ultra-Orthodox. “Every community in Brooklyn has to be treated the same,” he said. “When I become Brooklyn DA, I’ll make sure there’s equal justice for everyone, under the law.” The Daily Beast – 2013
Among other things, Hynes was notorious for refusing to release to the public the identities of Orthodox child sex predators that he convicted, in contravention of standard practice by other D.A.’s. The covering-up of Orthodox child molesters by the Brooklyn D.A. allows rabbis to pretend that there isn’t a rampant child sex abuse crisis in Orthodox synagogues, schools, yeshivas, summer camps and mikvehs.
The Brooklyn D.A.’s failure to stop rabbinic witness intimidation
“…witness intimidation, a problem in the ultra-Orthodox community that District Attorney Charles Hynes himself has acknowledged is worse than anything he has seen even in organized crime and police corruption cases.” The Jewish Week – 6-26-12
“Hynes claims that his office has received numerous “allegations that some rabbis were actively counseling, intimidating and harassing victims of sexual abuse, coercing them from reporting abuse to authorities” The Jewish Week – 5-17-2012
The office of the Brooklyn D.A. publicly acknowledges that rabbis violate the law and coerce, threaten and punish victims to prevent them from testifying against their Orthodox abuser and that it’s worse than the Mafia. Nevertheless, Thompson has not prosecuted a single rabbi or their surrogates for witness intimidation.
Here’s how the Brooklyn D.A. protects Orthodox kids from sexual predators
Moshe Spitzer was charged with 135 counts of abuse, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of sodomy, was sentenced to 2 years in prison and was released after serving 3 months.
Andrew Goodman was charged with 114 counts of abuse, yet he was only sentenced to 2 years in jail.
Shimon Benisty was convicted of molesting 2 young girls and deemed a “sexually violent offender”. He was only sentenced to 11 months in prison. Upon release, he was deported to Israel where he was convicted of abusing 11 more children.
Mendy Tevel was charged with 37 counts of child sex crimes, some of them felonies that could have sent him to prison for life. He was sentenced to just 1 year in jail and was released after serving 7 months. He is not on the NY sex offender registry and reportedly now lives in Beverly Hills, CA. He was recently videoed roaming the halls of an Orthodox children’s school nearby.
Baruch Lebovits was sentenced to up to 32 years in prison for child sexual abuse. Due to the Brooklyn D.A.’s bungling of the case, Lebovits spent less than 16 months in prison.
Yona Weinberg is a convicted, level-3 child sex offender (the most dangerous tier) who is wanted by the Brooklyn D.A. on additional charges. Weinberg sent me a letter (Yona Weinberg lawyer letter and Israeli lawyer) from his lawyers that insist that Weinberg is not wanted by the police. (Note the unauthorized FBI watermark on the first and second pages). I spoke to NYPD fugitive task force Detective Kevin Lapin (who has Weinberg’s case) on 6/15/2016 and he told me that Weinberg is wanted and has been wanted since 9/10/14. Weinberg flew to Israel the next day. According to several victim advocates in Israel that I contacted, the Brooklyn D.A. is doing nothing to extradite Weinberg.
Rabbi Gershon Kranczer and his son, Asher Kranczer, both fled to Israel 6 years ago before they could be arrested on horrific child sexual abuse charges. Kranczer’s wife was reported to have driven them to the airport. The D.A. didn’t prosecute her.
Rabbi Kranczer has another son, Yechezkel, who didn’t escape and was charged with 72 counts of child sexual abuse. Yechezkel was convicted and given probation.
I asked the D.A. why they haven’t extradited either Kranczer from Israel and they told me it was part of an “ongoing investigation”. Really? Doing nothing for 6 years constitutes an ongoing investigation?
Meilech Schnitzler was convicted of throwing bleach into the eyes of child victim advocate, Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg. Schnitzler didn’t serve a day in jail. Thompson defended the total absence of punishment by saying that Schnitzler “will have to take an anger management class” New York Post, 6-18-14.
Mr. Thompson – Meilech Schnitzler doesn’t need an anger management class, he needs jail time.
Kenneth Thompson’s campaign promises of equal treatment under the law turned out to be empty. It appears that Thomson cares more about getting re-elected than prosecuting those who abuse Orthodox children. In Brooklyn, to get re-elected as D.A., you need the Orthodox bloc-vote and their campaign cash. That only happens when the rabbis see that you do their bidding by covering-up Orthodox child molesters and allowing rabbis to punish victims who go to the police.
Eric Aiken is the owner of http://www.protectjewishkids.com and an advocate for Orthodox victims of child sexual abuse. “The List” is the world’s largest database of Orthodox child molesters.