By Sonia Rincon (CBS 2 News)
June 10, 2012
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes and a panel of community leaders met to discuss sex abuse cases within the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
DA Hynes and civil rights attorney Norman Siegel appeared at a public town-hall meeting in Brooklyn on Sunday, along with child advocates, rabbis, and molestation victims.
Hynes has come under fire in the past for his handling of sexual assault allegations in the community.
The District Attorney defended his policy and said that it was unacceptable for anybody with knowledge of sex abuse to fail to report it to the authorities.
Siegel told the assembly that the community could not stop at reporting abuse to rabbis.
"For too long the community's response to sexual abuse was to tell the victim to go talk to a rabbi," he said.
Siegel praised the District Attorney for his work on the issue and pledged his continued assistance. He also advised parents that they should never hesitate to report suspected abuse cases to the authorities.
Hynes emphasized the need to prevent victims of sexual abuse from becoming victims of retribution within the community.
"We have to protect the victims and not the perverts," he said.
Rabbi Yousef Blau made it clear that the policy of the community was to involve the authorities if abuse was suspected.
"If one is aware of someone abusing children, one must go to secular authorities," he said.
Siegel told the assembly that he looks forward to participating in similar meetings in the future.