By Oren Yaniv (NY Daily News)
April 28, 2014
A Hasidic Brooklyn man scored a no-jail plea deal Monday for dousing bleach on an anti sex abuse activist - an agreement that earned prosecutors a stinging rebuke from the victim.
Meilech Schnitzler, 38, will get five years of probation for felony assault after admitting he threw a cup of Clorox on Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg in December 2012.
The acid attack came amid fury in the Satmar sect over the conviction of a prominent counselor for molesting a teen, and days after Rosenberg accused the defendant's dad of being a pedophile.
The 64-year-old victim is a polarizing figure in the Jewish community who campaigned against former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes and for the election of DA Kenneth Thompson.
He strongly blasted the plea deal as he walked out of Brooklyn Supreme Court.
"We changed the DA but we didn't change any behavior in the DA's office," he lamented. "The guy walks free ... where is our protection?"
Critics have claimed Hynes was too soft on members of the insular ultra-Orthodox community who intimidate abuse victims and their supporters.
A law enforcement source said Rosenberg immediately washed his eyes and suffered no lasting injuries, and noted the defendant had no prior criminal history. The source also questioned whether Rosenberg actually assists sex victims or just advocates about abuse issues.
Rosenberg said he would have been fine with six months in jail for the second-degree assault rap Schnitzler pleaded to, which can carry up to seven years in prison.
"They poured bleach on me because I'm a child activist," he raged on the Satmars, claiming the attacker works at a the sect's central shul and was sent after him like "a hitman."
Defense lawyer Israel Fried argued that the truth is far different.
His client was cleaning up his fish store in south Williamsburg when Rosenberg happened to walk by, he said.
"In a moment of rage he confronted him," the lawyer said, referring to the accusatory comments Rosenberg had made about Schnitzler's father on a hotline and blog he's running.
"All he wanted to do is embarrass him."
He added that Schnitzler agreed to the first offer prosecutors gave him.
"No jail - he's thrilled," Fried said. "He's happy that it's done."