By Eric Aiken (The Algemeiner Journal)
August 30, 2016
In the first part of this article, I explained how a year and a half ago, I made a public record request for the photos and arrest reports of 15 Orthodox men convicted of child molestation by the Brooklyn DA. The DA refused to give me any of the information that I requested.
Last week, I made a new Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request (Brooklyn DA FOIL request), asking for the photo, arrest report, case disposition (the court’s decision), and length of jail time served (if any) of 29 Orthodox individuals arrested for, or convicted of, child sex crimes.
The following day, the DA’s office sent me a 3-page letter denying every request, for every individual.
In 80% of the more than three dozen Orthodox convictions that I investigated in Brooklyn, the molester received probation or only a few months of jail time. By contrast, even though Federal child sex crimes are not necessarily more severe or heinous than the ones prosecuted by the Brooklyn DA, every Federal conviction of an Orthodox child molester that I could find resulted in jail time — usually for many years.
As to my request for the molester’s photos, the DA told me that they would make me wait 6 months before releasing them to me. I filed an appeal of this ridiculous stonewalling and the DA’s office rejected my appeal.
New York’s public records law requires that documents be given to the requester within 20 days or “within a reasonable period” – Public Officer’s Law 89(3). Having public access to governmental records is a fundamental right of American citizens. This is the only way we can know what our government is doing, and hold officials accountable.
There is nothing “reasonable” about withholding photos of convicted Orthodox child molesters for 6 months. There is no justification for refusing to release conviction information about Orthodox child molesters or informing me of how much time they spent in jail, if any. In the time it took the DA’s office to write their 3-page laundry list of excuses of why they aren’t going to comply with the law, they could have instead provided me with the records that I requested.
Not only does current Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson refuse to release public records of Orthodox child molesters requested under FOIL, but Thompson is also ethically-challenged in other ways.
Just last week, Thompson was fined $15,000 by the New York City Conflicts of Interests Board for using New York City police officers as his personal waiters and delivery boys to buy him thousands of dollars of meals, all at taxpayer expense.
When Thompson ran for office, he promised to change the corrupt ways of his predecessor, Charles Hynes. According to the Daily Beast at the time, “Thompson openly criticized Hynes’ record on crimes committed by the ultra-Orthodox. ‘Every community in Brooklyn has to be treated the same,’ he said. ‘When I become Brooklyn DA, I’ll make sure there’s equal justice for everyone, under the law.’”
Among other things, Hynes was notorious for refusing to release to the public the identities of Orthodox child sex predators that he convicted, in contravention of standard practice by other DAs. The covering-up of Orthodox child molesters allows rabbis to pretend that there isn’t a rampant child sex abuse crisis in Orthodox synagogues, schools, yeshivas, summer camps, and mikvahs.
When he was in office, Hynes publicly acknowledges that rabbis violate the law and coerce, threaten, and punish victims to prevent them from testifying against their Orthodox abuser. Nevertheless, Thompson has not prosecuted a single rabbi or their surrogates for witness intimidation.
Here’s how the Brooklyn DA has failed to protect Jewish children from child molesters:
Moshe Spitzer was charged with 135 counts of abuse, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of sodomy, was sentenced to 2 years in prison, and was released after serving 3 months.
Andrew Goodman was charged with 114 counts of abuse. He was sentenced to 2 years in jail. When released, Goodman took one of his former victims across state lines and sodomized him. Taking a child across state lines to abuse him is a Federal crime. The Feds convicted him for that one act, and got Goodman sentenced to 10 years to life.
Shimon Benisty was convicted of molesting two young girls and deemed a “sexually violent offender.” He was only sentenced to 11 months in prison. Upon release, he was deported to Israel where he was convicted of abusing 11 more children.
Mendy Tevel was charged with 37 counts of child sex crimes, some of them felonies that could have sent him to prison for life. He was sentenced to just 1 year in jail and was released after serving 7 months. He is not on the New York sex offender registry and reportedly now lives in Beverly Hills, California. He was recently videoed roaming the halls of an Orthodox children’s school nearby.
Baruch Lebovits was sentenced to up to 32 years in prison for child sexual abuse. Due to the Brooklyn DA’s bungling of the case, Lebovits spent less than 16 months in prison.
Yona Weinberg is a convicted, level-3 child sex offender (the most dangerous tier) who is wanted by the Brooklyn DA on additional charges. Weinberg sent me a letter from his lawyers that insist that Weinberg is not wanted by the police. (Note the unauthorized FBI watermark on the first and second pages). I spoke to NYPD fugitive task force Detective Kevin Lapin (who has Weinberg’s case) on June 15, and he told me that Weinberg is wanted and has been wanted since September 2014. Weinberg flew to Israel that very month. According to several victim advocates in Israel that I contacted, the Brooklyn DA is doing nothing to extradite Weinberg.
Rabbi Gershon Kranczer and his son, Asher Kranczer, both fled to Israel 6 years ago before they could be arrested on horrific child sexual abuse charges. Kranczer’s wife was reported to have driven them to the airport. The DA didn’t prosecute her.
Rabbi Kranczer has another son, Yechezkel, who didn’t escape and was charged with 72 counts of child sexual abuse. Yechezkel was convicted and given probation.
I asked the DA’s office why they haven’t extradited either Kranczer from Israel, and they told me that there was an “ongoing investigation.” Really? Doing nothing for 6 years constitutes an ongoing investigation?
Meilech Schnitzler was convicted of throwing bleach into the eyes of child victim advocate Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg. Schnitzler didn’t serve a day in jail. Thompson defended the total absence of punishment by saying that Schnitzler “will have to take an anger management class.”
Kenneth Thompson’s campaign promises of equal treatment under the law turned out to be empty. It appears that Thomson cares more about getting re-elected than prosecuting those who abuse Orthodox children. In Brooklyn, to get re-elected, you need the Orthodox bloc-vote and their campaign cash. That only happens when the rabbis see that you do their bidding by covering-up Orthodox child molesters and allowing rabbis to punish victims who go to the police.
Eric Aiken is the owner of http://www.protectjewishkids.com and an advocate for Orthodox victims of child sexual abuse. “The List” is the world’s largest database of Orthodox child molesters.