Heated Reaction 

Thomson Reuters News
May 17, 2012

Last week, we posted about a New York Times story probing the policies and practices of prosecuting alleged sex abusers in the Jewish ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn. Now, we see the story has taken on a life of its own. Charles Hynes, the longtime Brooklyn district attorney who was put under the Times microscope, was immediately criticized by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Former mayor Ed Koch has also jumped into the fray, writing in the Huffington Post that if Hynes accepted Orthodox custom of not reporting abuse allegations to criminal authorities until they are vetted by a rabbi, "in my opinion, he was blessing the obstruction of justice."

On Wednesday, Hynes himself fired back against all the criticism, penning an opinion piece in the New York Daily News defending the program he started three years ago to address alleged sex crimes in the Orthodox community. Hynes suggests arrests have risen, writing, "the statistics show how absurd it is to suggest that we cover up, downplay or in any way 'give a break' to sex offenders in the Orthodox Jewish community.'"

The debate over Hynes' office has spilled to the streets, too. Yesterday, thousands of supporters of a man indicted on charges of sexually assaulting a girl gathered at a fundraiser on the man's behalf in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Outside, protesters gathered with signs calling to "protect victims, not abusers," the Times reported.

Putting forth a different point of view, the Jewish Week observes that despite the hubbub, New York politicians don't seem eager to weigh in on Hynes' practice of withholding names of Orthodox people who have been accused or convicted of sex abuse crimes.