By Shmarya Rosenberg (Failed Messiah blog)
June 18, 2014
Satmar hasid Meilech Schnitzler ran across a busy street and threw a cup of bleach in the face of Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg. Rosenberg is a well-known anti-child-sex-abuse activist. Schnitzler damaged Rosenberg’s face and eye and almost blinded him.
Nevertheless, the attack – carried out 18 months ago because of Rosenberg’s activism and the Satmar hasidic movements’ vehement objection to it – took place in Brooklyn, a place where corruption and obstruction of justice is the norm.
And therefore Schnitzler, who was sentenced today after pleading guilty to “intent to cause physical injury with a weapon” – a Class D Felony – will serve no prison time for almost blinding Rosenberg, whose sight was saved by a non-Jewish store owner who witnessed the attack and ran to the stricken rabbi with clean water to help Rosenberg flush out his eyes.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson defended this awful plea deal by claiming Rosenberg wasn’t really hurt and had no permanent damage. And this, Thompson pointed out, was Schnitzler’s first arrest.
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,” Thompson said in a prepared statement.
This is not the first time Rosenberg has been assaulted in Williamsburg, and the idea a violent attack on a prominent anti-abuse activist could be treated this way is shocking.
Rosenberg asked the judge, Justice Joseph Gubbay (who called the attack “very disturbing” in one brief nod to Rosenberg’s suffering), to sentence Schnitzler to some jail time or, at the very least, to speak out against the very lenient plea deal.
Gubbay did neither.
Instead, he reportedly tried to get Rosenberg – who still suffers pain and discomfort every day from Schnitzler’s attack, which took place 18 months ago – to accept an “apology” from Schnitzler – an “apology" Gubbay asked Schnitzler to make.
According to the Daily News, haltingly, Schnitzler complied.
“I want to say sorry for what I did. Can you please forgive me?” Schnitzler asked.
“No,” Rosenberg replied, “because you didn’t [only] harm me. You harmed all the children I represent.”
Gubay then briefly lectured Rosenberg on what Jewish tradition has to say about forgiveness.
“I do have some familiarity with the [Jewish] tradition,” Gubay reportedly noted.
Schnitzler had shown no signs of repentance in the 18 months since the attack until Gubay asked him to apologize.
Gubay also limited what Rosenberg could say about the impact of the no-jail plea deal on other anti-abuse activists and on haredi children, and limited his ability to criticize the D.A.
After Schnitzler’s sentencing – and Gubay’s mangled grade school-level morality lesson – were over, outside the courtroom Rosenberg railed against Gubbay’s behavior and the sentence.
He said what Gubay did made him feel he “very awful…I’ve never seen such nonsense and idiocy in my life.…
“For years, I have been insulted, excommunicated and even physically attacked because of my anti-abuse activism.…
“This plea bargain has compounded the damage of my assault. The DA shortchanged me, justice and the interests of children who are sexually abused by not bringing this case to trial,” Rosenberg reportedly said.