Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
April 14, 2011
Last year, Lebovits was convicted of child sexual abuse and sentenced to 10 2/3 to 32 years in prison.
Tuesday, the Brooklyn DA Joe Hynes ordered the arrest of Rabbi Samuel Kellner for allegedly bribing a witness to testify against Lebovits and for trying to extort $400,000 from Lebovits' family.
Hynes pointed out that the bribed witness did not testify against Lebovits at trial, and Hynes' office strongly opposed releasing Lebovits on bail pending appeal. Even so, yesterday a judge granted Lebovits $250,000 bail.
Levine worked on the Lebovits case for Lebovits' family, documenting Kellner's alleged extortion and bribery. He told me that contrary to other media media reports, as of 10 am EST this morning, Lebovits was still in jail, awaiting the details of his release and electronic monitoring, which Lebovits must pay for, to be completed.
"Lebovits is not a tzaddik," Levine said. "I think he is a child molester. Whether he deserves 5 years [in prison] or 32 years [in prison] is a different story...People think I'm on his side, but I'm not...I want people to know I'm against child abuse and I fight child abuse and crime." But that includes fighting extortion and witness tampering, which are also crimes.
"I want people to know that if there is abuse, they should call the police–not rabbis, not [the Brooklyn DA's Jewish liaison] Henna White," Levine said.
Levine noted that he's seen a large uptick in families of abuse victims seeking his help, which he interprets as a greater willingness in the haredi community to acknowledge and fight sexual abuse and domestic violence.
"It's changing bit by bit," Levine said. "but it will take time."