Different Rules?

Thomson Reuters News
May 11, 2012

The rate of child molestation within the tight-knit Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn is roughly the same as in the general population, according to experts. But the Brooklyn District Attorney lets potential suspects in the ultra-Orthodox community play by different rules, according to an in-depth story in the New York Times. Not only does the office of Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes take a low number of cases alleging sex crimes in the ultra-Orthodox community, Hynes' office doesn't publicize the names of alleged sex offenders, a convention the DA follows for alleged sex-crime abusers in every other part of society. This treatment for the Orthodox community continues in spite of a 2009 initiative from the DA's office designed to reach out to potential victims, says the Times.

Hynes has strong support from top Orthodox rabbis among his constituents, which has a total population of about 200,000 in Brooklyn. "But in recent years, as allegations of child sexual abuse have shaken the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, victims' rights groups have expressed concern that he is not vigorously pursuing these cases because of his deep ties to the rabbis," the newspaper writes. Hynes, who declined to be interviewed for the piece, has never publicly repudiated a tradition in ultra-Orthodox culture that a rabbi must first determine with an accusation is valid before it is investigated by police or other authorities, according to the Times. (That tradition was the subject of a previous story in the newspaper).

On a somewhat related note, Summary Judgments earlier this year reported on a story in the Jewish Week and Jewish Daily Forward about a sexual abuse case before New York's top appeals court. That lawsuit involves charges by alleged sexual-abuse victims of an ultra-Orthodox rabbi who fled to Israel. The plaintiffs have used freedom of information laws to seek documents from Hynes' office to determine if pressure from the Orthodox community prompted the DA to drag its feet in extraditing the alleged perpetrator.