by Jose Martinez (NY Post)
June 26, 2012
That's all the time a Brooklyn jury needed to acquit a notorious ultra-Orthodox rabbi today of charges that he leered at a boy who years earlier had accused him of being a pervert.
Joel Kolko was looking at two years behind bars if convicted of violating an order of protection by eyeballing the boy and his dad twice as they walked past his Flatbush home in 2010.
"We believe justice was served," said Jeffrey Schwartz, a defense lawyer for Kolko. "Really, there was no evidence to support anything."
The boy had accused Kolko of molesting him in 2006, when he was a first grader - but the rabbi dodged sex-offender status by pleading guilty two years later to misdemeanor child endangerment.
The boy, now 13, testified last week that Kolko stared at him with his arms folded "for a long time" during two uncomfortable encounters.
"There is absolutely no doubt that Kolko's intent was to intimidate the child," said Ben Hirsch, an advocate for victims of child abuse.
Hirsch, co-founder of the group Survivors for Justice, was critical of Hynes for cutting a deal with Kolko in 2008.
"It's tragic that the (District Attorney) Charles Hynes chose not to prosecute this case in 2008, when he would have achieved an almost-guaranteed guilty verdict," he said.
Kolko, 66, was arrested in 2006 for allegedly touching the private parts of the boy and a first-grade classmate at a Flatbush yeshiva where he worked as a teacher.
"This destroyed his whole life without really any basis in fact," Schwartz said. "It basically got him thrown out of his profession."