by Steve Lieberman (lohud.com)
June 14, 2012
A 31-year-old man pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually molesting two young brothers, accepting an offer for a probationary sentence and joining his brother on the state registry of sex offenders.
Shmul Dym pleaded guilty as a state Supreme Court jury in New City sat ready to hear evidence he improperly touched the young boys, ages 7 and 9.
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said he approved the plea agreement at the behest of the boys' parents, who wanted to spare their children from testifying.
Zugibe said the family had withstood pressure from some leaders in their ultra-Orthodox Jewish community to refrain from cooperating in Dym's prosecution.
Other community religious urged them to cooperate, he said.
"I commend the victims' family for withstanding community pressure and cooperating throughout the process," Zugibe said. "They were concerned about their sons having to testify. In the end, we went with the family's wishes."
Zugibe said his only regret was Dym would not be sentenced to state prison. The felony sex charge carries a sentence of probation to seven years in state prison.
Prosecutor Patricia Gunning offered Dym 10 years' probation for his guilty plea to two counts of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child, a felony, and charges of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.
Dym admitted to improperly touching the boys multiple times in a three-month period.
Justice William A. Kelly accepted the guilty plea before scheduling Dym's sentencing for Aug. 20.
Dym's lawyer, Deborah Wolikow Loewenberg, accepted the plea offer. She and co-counsel Kenneth Gribetz had helped choose a jury for trial.
"We were grateful they (prosecution) reinstated their offer," Loewenberg said.
Gribetz said Dym had nothing to do with any community pressure on the family. Dym had known the family and the children.
Gribetz and Loewenberg said they were not looking forward to cross-examining the two boys, the main witnesses against Dym.
"The case boiled down to them," Gribetz said. "It would have been a traumatic experience for them. We are pleased with the compassion shown by the D.A. for the victims. We hope the children go on with their lives."
Along with the children, Gunning had planned to call experts to testify on child sexual abuse and the cultural aspects of the Hasidic Jewish community.
The Hasidic Jewish culture has become an issue in sex-abuse cases across the region, specifically since many Orthodox Jews believe they can't testify against members of their community and could be ostracized for doing so.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has spoken out against families being intimidated to not report sexual abuse. Some hotlines run by ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups exist for families in New York City and the suburbs to report the abuse and inform the police and other authorities.
Shmul Dym will face a sex offender classification hearing after being sentenced.
Dym's younger brother Betzalel is a registered sex offender for abusing young boys. He was convicted in August 2006 of first-degree sex abuse for having sex with a then-10-year-old Monsey boy five times between January and May of 2006.
Betzalel Dym is listed as a Level 2 sex offender on the New York State Registry, designating him a moderate risk of repeating his crime.
He became involved in a lawsuit in which Kelly ruled unconstitutional a county law establishing where sex offenders can live and congregate.