By Azi Paybarah (Capital New York)
May 16, 2012
A former Brooklyn assistant district attorney who unsuccessfully challenged longtime incumbent D.A. Charles Hynes in 2005 said Hynes made a "pact with the devil" by agreeing not to publicize the names of ultra-Orthodox child-sex offenders.
Arnold Kriss, now a lawyer in private practice, was reacting to a New York Times investigation into Hynes' practice of not publicizing the names of defendants in child sex-abuse cases in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.
Hynes told the Times he was doing this because revealing the defendants names would ultimately out the identity of the victims, due to the uniquely tight-knit nature of that community. The tactic has been criticized by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former mayor Ed Koch and several of the leading Democratic mayoral candidates.
"If he can't protect his witnesses and his victims, then I think it's time to change occupations," Kriss said in an interview.
"I never heard a prosecutor say he's protecting a defendant's identity because it inures the benefit of the victim. I never heard this before," he said. "I think this is just totally cover for what he's really doing here, which is entering into a deal with the rabbis of that community to impede justice. I don't get it. I don't think any of the other D.A.s have entered into this deal, this pact with the devil, basically. That's how I look at it."
When I emailed him Kriss' comments to Hynes' office, a spokesman there said there is no double standard and that the defendants' identities are publicly available, if you search.
"The only pact District Attorney Hynes has entered into is to preserve the integrity of the sex abuse prosecutions in this vulnerable insular community," said Jerry Schmetterer, the spokesman. "Those convicted, after they serve their prison terms, will appear on the New York State Sex Registry which is accessible to the public by simply entering your zip code. This is hardly a record of cover-up or double standard."
Schmetterer also took the opportunity to say something about the man raising this latest criticism.
"In the interest of full disclosure," Schmetterer said, "Mr. Kriss was a candidate for District Attorney Hynes in 2005 and got less than 6 per cent of the vote."
In that race, Hynes got 41 percent, State Senator John Sampson got 37 percent, and a lawyer formally with the attorney general's office, Mark Peters, got 15 percent.