By Alison Fox (Wall Street Journal)
June 11, 2012
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said he would reveal the names of alleged abusers in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community — but only if victims requested it.
At a town hall meeting in Crown Heights Sunday night, Hynes said that would be the only reason he would veer from his controversial policy of concealing the identities of accused sex offenders.
"You give me a list and I'll publish it," Hynes said in response to feedback that some victims wanted the defendants' names publicized. "I don't have a problem with that. The policy is to protect victims."
Hynes has come under fire recently for allowing the insular community to operate under different rules from the rest of the borough. In 2009, Hynes implemented a program called Kol Tzedek, or Voice of Justice, in which defendants are kept anonymous in an effort to convince more victims to come forward and protect them from harassment and intimidation.
The district attorney credited the program with encouraging 130 victims to come forward. He said he was only able to prosecute a handful of cases in the first 19 years he was in office, comparing witness intimidation within the community to the mafia.
But Civil Rights Attorney Norman Siegel, who represents three different ultra-Orthodox Jewish families in sex-abuse cases in Brooklyn, bashed the policy.
"I strongly disagree with his policy of not releasing the names of the defendants in the ultra-Orthodox community," said Siegel. "He doesn't do that for other communities and his reasoning for not releasing the names is not convincing."