Some Victims’ Advocates Balk On More Meetings With Brooklyn DA On Child Sex Abuse

By Shmarya Rosenberg (
September 5, 2012

Some of the advocates for haredi victims of childhood sexual abuse have reportedly cancelled a scheduled meeting with Brooklyn’s District Attorney Charles Hynes, because they say Hynes has refused to implement reforms in dealing with cases of haredi child sexual abuse.

The advocates are upset because Hynes still refuses to release names of the alleged pedophiles in the haredi community who have been arrested and charged, even though he does so with all other pedophile arrests and has occasionally done so with haredi arrests, as well. He has also refused to initiate educational programs in yeshivas about child sexual abuse and – besides the arrest of three men in one very public incident of witness tampering and victim harassment – Hynes has still not taken any action against rabbis and other haredi community members who harass and intimidate victims.

Mark Appel, founder of Voice of Justice, and Asher Lipner, another activist, won’t have a second meeting with Hynes as a result.

Survivors for Justice, a prominent advocacy organization for haredi victims of child sexual abuse, declined to attend the first meeting and won't attend the second.

"We declined to participate at the first meeting and will continue this policy of not participating," Survivors for Justice president Ben Hirsch told

“Since he has to appease the rabbis in Brooklyn he should send all the Jewish cases to Staten Island,” Voice of Justice head Mark Appel told the Daily News, in what was a reference to the special prosecutor from Staten Island appointed to handle the inquiry into alleged criminal wrongdoing by Brooklyn’s powerful Democratic party leader Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who is politically close to Hynes.

However, Joel Engelman, who is leading the group of advocates meeting with Hynes, told the News he planned on attending further meetings.

The group first met with Hynes approximately two months ago.

That meeting was supposed to be secret, in large part because advocates did not want to be seen as endorsing Hynes in any way, and they did not want to be used by him to promote his reelection.

Yet Hynes’ office and a senior staffer from the New York Jewish Federation who is close to at least one senior member of Hynes’ staff allegedly leaked news of the meeting against the will of the advocates immediately after the meeting ended.

While other news organizations (including would not publish details of the meeting, the Forward immediately published news that the meeting took place. But it unethically removed the names – which it knew – of at least two advocates who attended. Both are seen by Hynes as being malleable and as potential allies, while others named by the Forward are not.

Hynes spokesman Jerry Schmetterer claimed that the followup meeting was only postponed due to scheduling conflicts.

“It's an ongoing process,” Schmetterer reportedly said. “We are all happy on this end to continue.”

A suggestion made by a victims’ advocate to include senior hasidic rabbis who defend alleged molesters and publicly vilifying victims was also reportedly rejected by Hynes.