By N.J. Burkett (Eyewitness News)
November 21, 2013
A judge in Brooklyn agreed to delay a decision on a possible retrial of a rabbi.
Critics of outgoing Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes have complained he has not aggressively pursed sex abuse cases in the orthodox community.
Hynes agreed to let his successor Kenneth Thompson decide how to prosecute the case of Rabbi Baruch Lebovits, which has divided the community.
Rabbi Baruch Lebovits was hoping the child-sex charges would quietly go-away.
But Brooklyn prosecutors abruptly stepped-aside Tuesday morning and put the case on-hold at the request of the incoming district attorney.
"Based upon the serious allegations in the case, I request that no disposition be offered to the defendant, no guilty plea be allowed, [I]t is important that I have a full opportunity to review the Lebovits matter." Ken Thompson said.
Ken Thompson ran for Brooklyn DA claiming the office was corrupt, and insisting that incumbent DA Charles Hynes was not tough enough on ultra-orthodox pedophiles. Thompson's supporters applauded his decision.
"They were going to give him a three-year deal and they would have probably said that because he was already in jail a year and a year on house arrest, and because he only served two terms, before you know it he would have been on the streets!" said Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, a Brooklyn activist.
But Hynes has defended his office, claiming he's prosecuted a series of ultra-orthodox defendants in cases that are often difficult to prove.
Rabbi Lebovits was one of them, but his conviction for molesting a young boy was overturned on appeal. Now the incoming DA will decide whether to offer him a deal or a new trial.
"We hope that everybody here will keep an open mind, and listen to the evidence, and let the case be decided on the basis of the facts and of the law and not of any political considerations," said Alan Dershowitz, Lebovits' attorney.
We want to clarify the story we brought you on Eyewitness News at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
During the introduction to our coverage of Rabbi Lebovits, we also showed video of another man, Sam Kellner.
We want to make it clear that Mr. Kellner is not accused of any child abuse.
In fact, he is the man who first brought to authorities the claim that Rabbi Lebowitz had abused Kellner's son.
We apologize for the error.