Rabbi refuses to accept apology from man who threw bleach in his face

By Oren Yaniv (NY Daily News)
June 18, 2014

A Brooklyn judge’s attempt to broker peace Wednesday between a rabbi who advocates against child sex abuse and a Hasid who threw bleach in his face resulted in bupkis.

Justice Joseph Gubbay asked Meilech Schnitzler to apologize to Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, before he got sentenced to five years’ probation for the December 2012 Clorex attack.

“I want to say sorry for what I did,” Schnitzler, 38, a Williamsburg fishmonger, said awkwardly. “Can you please forgive me?”

But the eccentric activist was having none of it.

“No,” he replied in Brooklyn Supreme Court, “because you didn’t harm me. You harmed all the children I represent.”

Outside the courtroom, Rosenberg, 64, said he “felt very awful” about the jurist’s unexpected olive branch.

“I’ve never seen such nonsense and idiocy in my life,” he railed.

Rosenberg, who runs a hotline and website to advocate against molestation in the Orthodox Jewish community, earlier told the judge of his disappointment in the plea deal the district attorney’s office reached with Schnitzler.

“For years, I have been insulted, excommunicated and even physically attacked because of my anti-abuse activism,” he said, adding he was nearly blinded by the bleach the defendant doused him with.

“This plea bargain has compounded the damage of my assault,” he added. “The DA shortchanged me, justice and the interests of children who are sexually abused by not bringing this case to trial.”

A spokeswoman for DA Kenneth Thompson said in a statement that the resolution was appropriate and came after prosecutors have “taken into consideration that this is the defendant’s first arrest, that the victim suffered no permanent or serious injury, and that the defendant will be monitored by probation.”

The incident happened following the end of a high-profile sex abuse trial of Nechemya Weberman and after the advocate publicly accused Schnitzler’s father of being a perv.

Gubbay called the attack “very disturbing” and, after the failed reconciliation between the warring parties, he tried to impart a bit of Yiddishkeit.

“I do have some familiarity with the (Jewish) tradition,” he said before speaking of the concept of Selichot, or forgiveness, and mentioning the Rosh HaShanah holiday.

The judge must have meant Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which comes 10 days later and is more closely associated with the custom of saying sorry to one another.