Abuse Suspect Tries to Void Guilty Plea

By Steve Lieberman (lohud.com)
July 21, 2012

A 21-year-old Monsey man apparently wants to withdraw his guilty plea to felony charges of sexually molesting two young brothers, a request Rockland prosecutors say they will oppose in court when the case is scheduled on Wednesday.

Shmul Dym admitted in court in June that he touched boys multiple times in their private areas. He admitted he improperly touched the 8-year-old boy between May 2010 and July 2011 and the 6-year-old between September 2010 and July 2011, according to minutes of his guilty plea.

Dym, who knew the boys and their family, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and two misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child.

Dym faced a maximum of 14 years in prison.

To spare the children from testifying at the behest of their parents, prosecutors said they offered Dym a non-prison sentence. Dym first rejected the offer but he pleaded guilty June 14 after a jury had been selected.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors and the judge promised Dym 10 years’ probation. His name also would be added to the state sex registry, joining his younger brother, Betzalel, a Level 2 moderate risk sex offender convicted of sexually abusing a young boy multiple times in early 2006.

Shmul Dym has decided he wants to withdraw his plea and go to trial on the charges, according to his lawyers.

His lawyers, Kenneth Gribetz and Deborah Wolikow Loewenberg, said in a statement that Dym will be getting a lawyer from Maryland. Gribetz is a former county district attorney, while Loewenberg is a former prosecutor.

“Prior to opening statements, our client entered a guilty plea to the entire indictment in exchange for a promise that he would be sentenced to probation,” Loewenberg said. “He subsequently notified us that he would be seeking to withdraw his guilty plea and was retaining new counsel.”

Loewenberg said she and Gribetz asked state Supreme Court Justice William A. Kelly to take them off the case on July 17. Kelly told them to wait until Dym had a new lawyer representing him in court.

Loewenberg said she and Gribetz were prohibited from commenting on any reasons behind Dym’s decision.

Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said his prosecutor, Senior Assistant District Attorney Patricia Gunning, will oppose Dym’s request when the case comes back before Kelly. Both the prosecution and defense would file legal papers on the issue.

Dym will have to meet a high standard to withdraw his plea, including showing Kelly that he didn’t make a voluntary decision, Zugibe said. Dym told the judge in June that he was pleading guilty on his own accord and because he had committed the crimes, he said.

Zugibe said he was confident Gunning would get a jury conviction against Dym at trial but they wanted to protect the boys and their family from having to testify.

The boys’ parents were pressured by some rabbinical leaders to not pursue the sexual abuse charges against Dym, Zugibe said. The family faced being ostracized from their religious community for cooperating, he said.

“It would be a travesty to put the victims and their families through this emotional roller coaster, again,” Zugibe said. “They were intimidated not to cooperate and they did cooperate. We’re going to vigorously oppose letting him withdraw his plea.”