By Jennifer Friedlin (Jewish Week)
October 18, 2006
A recent episode of ABC's "Nightline" discussed the case of an Orthodox Brooklyn therapist who fled to Israel to escape prosecution for sex-crime charges. Those on the side of a group of alleged victims hoped the national attention would finally force Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes to fight for extradition of the suspected pedophile Avrohom Mondrowitz, who has been on the lam for nearly a quarter of a century.But the DA refuses to discuss the matter.
"We are not commenting on this case," a spokesman for Hynes, Sandy Silverstein, told The Jewish Week after Hynes declined to appear on "Nightline."
Mondrowitz was indicted in 1984 on four counts of sodomy and eight counts of sexual abuse in the first degree for allegedly abusing four boys - none Jewish - in Brooklyn. After he fled, then-District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman fought for Mondrowitz's extradition. But because the Israeli definition of rape did not include sodomy, and, therefore, Mondrowitz had not broken Israeli law, extradition was off the table.
Israel changed the definition of rape to include sodomy in 1988.
But after Hynes was elected the following year, the matter faded. Hynes' office has said it did not pursue the case because the extradition treaty could not be applied retroactively. But a memo from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to the State Department regarding Mondrowitz indicated the case could be reopened, said Michael Lesher, a lawyer currently representing six Jewish people who say Mondrowitz abused them.
One of them, Mark Weiss, now 39, says Mondrowitz sexually assaulted him during a summer stay in Mondrowitz+AO0-s home when Weiss was 13. After years of keeping quiet, he decided he was ready to publicly tell his story in the hopes that both Hynes and the Orthodox community would take greater action to fight sex abuse.
"I don't think the DA is going to be able to say it's a dead issue now," said Weiss.
"If the DA doesn't pursue this case, it's hard to say what case they would pursue," said Lesher, who believes Hynes won't push for extradition because of a cozy relationship with Brooklyn's Orthodox community.
Lesher is waiting for some answers from Hynes in response to the latest claims.
So far, Hynes is keeping mum.