By Yerachmiel Lopin (Frum Follies Blog)
February 26, 2016
The New York Daily News, reported: “EXCLUSIVE: Brooklyn rabbi charged with teen sex assault gets 60 days in jail; DA ripped for offering light plea deal.”
While Rabbi Yoel Malik pled guilty to a single misdemeanor count of Sexual Misconduct, Oral/Anal Conduct (NYS PL 130.20.02) his charge sheet included another 52 misdemeanor counts and 24 felony counts of sex crimes with minors which the record shows the DA and the defendant agreed to have covered by the single misdemeanor plea.There were additional felony and misdemeanor charges that were dropped.
I get plea deal bargaining. They spare the victims the ordeal of a trial, save prosecution resources, and eliminate the risk of an acquittal. But an average of 2 days per felony sex crime? That was no deal; it was a giveaway, a travesty. The victims and justice were bamboozled and the public was endangered.
The DA defends this disgraceful trade of less than one day in jail per charge because the victims were “extremely reluctant to testify publicly.” Mind you, the DA doesn’t even say they refused. The DA may be exaggerating, though it is doubtlessly true they were reluctant and the DA knows why. The ultra orthodox community harasses and intimidates victims of sex crimes committed by orthodox Jews. The intimidation is extreme. They are just like the Mafia, street gangs, and drug cartels.
The DA should seek every possible opportunity to prosecute victim intimidation. The word should go out in the orthodox world: “Try to intimidate a victim and you will pay.” But to date, Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson has never initiated the prosecution of an orthodox Jew who tried to intimidate a victim. Thompson and his head of sex crimes, ADA Gregory, are silent partners of the orthodox intimidators. But it is worse than that. Even when they have willing witnesses, they run the other way.
Meilech Schnitzler threw bleach into the face of anti abuse activist, Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg. But for the quick response of an Hispanic bystander who doused him with water, this Hasidic crusader could have been blinded. The rabbi was totally willing to testify. There were other witnesses on the street from outside the community. Thompson’s response was a no- jail plea bargain.
DA Kenneth Thomson has entered into an unholy compact with the ultra orthodox community. The DA does the least he possibly can when it comes to those who rape and molest orthodox children (unless they are gentiles) and they in turn will support him when he seeks reelection or election to a higher office. Shame on all of them.
UPDATE- Attorney Michael Lesher wrote a comment to this post:
New York law obligates each District Attorney to maintain procedures for protecting victims and witnesses from organized intimidation. It also requires the D.A. to make these known to those who need it. These procedures are followed pretty well when the culprits are part of a criminal gang or a Mafia family. They’ve been ignored in connection with crimes arising in the Orthodox community Part of our activism on this subject should be to press the D.A. to make these procedures a reality, and to treat people who threaten victims and potential witnesses as they deserve to be treated — as serious criminals — rather than lightening up on the sex abusers who happen to get caught, claiming all the while it’s being done as a favor to the victims. It isn’t.
And we have to make it plain to religious leadership within the community that interference with the justice system won’t be tolerated. We mustn’t forget that the power of numbers is at least potentially on our side. If we stand together on such simple points, it will be hard for rabbis to support the Schnitzlers and their ilk.