Have Agudath Israel Of America And Brooklyn's DA Colluded To Allow Haredim To Violate State Mandatory Reporting Law?

In a closed meeting meant only for pulpit rabbis and first reported on FailedMessiah.com, Agudah security evicted anyone not pre-approved to attend. Then Agudath Israel of America's General Counsel told the handpicked audience how to deal with claims of child sex abuse in a way that skirts mandatory reporting law. And he claimed the Brooklyn DA, Charles Hynes, personally approved this end around.

By Shmarya Rosenberg (FailedMessiah.com)
November 27, 2011

The closed-door meeting held during Agudath Israel of America's annual conference was by invitation only.

Only rabbis of synagogues were invited. Only they allowed to attend.

Agudah security people manned the door. An Agudah member, Avram Nissen Pearl approached anyone Agudah officials did not recognize and checked their IDs. Those people not pre-approved were told to leave.

Rabbi Shmuel Kamentzky, Agudah's number two rabbi, attended the entire seesion but did not speak.

Agudath Israel of America's Executive VP, Rabbi David Zwiebel, attended part of the meeting. Zwiebel is also an attorney and was previously Agudah's counsel.

Agudah's current General Counsel, Rabbi Mordechai Biser, made the presentation.

According to haredi sources at the Agudah convention who fear retribution and who requested anonymity to protect themselves and their families, this is what Biser told rabbis to do if they are told about possible child sex abuse:

1. A congregant or someone else tells a rabbi that he suspects that a child has been sexually abused. (This child could be the congregant's child or a neighbor's child or a student of the congregant or even a patient of the congregant.)

2. The rabbi asks the congregant why he believes this.

3. The congregant answers that question.

4. The rabbi tells the congregant to stay silent and allow the rabbi to handle the situation.

5. The rabbi decides whether the information he was given by the congregant rises to the level of raglayim l'davar, reasonable suspicion under Jewish law that the abuse may have taken place.

6. If the rabbi thinks what he has been told by the congregant meets or exceeds the bar of raglayim l'davar, the rabbi – not the congregant – reports the suspect abuse to a liason at the Brooklyn DA's office, not to police or to ACS (state child protection services). (This keeps trained forensic child sex abuse investigators out of the case unless the DA's office chooses to involve them. This allows the DA to fix cases without cops and ACS knowing the details. The rabbi serves as point man for the case, and the congregant – even if he is the alleged victim's parent – does not speak with or deal with the DA's office, police or ACS unless the rabbi involves him.)

7. If the rabbi does not think what he has been told by the congregant meets or exceeds the bar of raglayim l'davar, no report is made by him, and the congregant is told to remain silent, to not call police or ACS because doing so would violate halakha (and would presumably lead to reprisals from the community – reprisals many victims and victims' families and advocates have already suffered.)

8. Brooklyn's District Attorney, Charles Hynes, approved this system, including allowing rabbis to act as gatekeepers for child sex abuse allegations and to have those rabbis control contact between the congregant and law enforcement.

What this system does is allow haredi rabbis to determine which claims of suspected child sex abuse get properly investigated and which do not.

It also allows the DA to keep police, ACS and, perhaps as importantly if not more so, the media, out of the loop.

This allows the DA to quietly plead out haredi pedophiles to lesser charges that don't require prison time or placement on sex offender registries, and it allows haredi rabbis to shield their community from the public scrutiny it would certainly get if a wave of haredi pedophiles and other sex criminals were properly arrested and prosecuted.

The liaison at the DA's office is most probably Henna White, who is known as a fixer of haredi domestic violence cases and, more recently, haredi sex crimes.

White makes deals that allegdly have abusive husband's get therapy at OHEL in exchange for their wives dropping the criminal complaints against them. Sometimes the husband pleads to a reduced charge, serves no prison time and has his criminal record expunged a few months later.

Many of these abusive spouses go on to beat their wives again.

I've been told White also does this in cases of alleged child sex abuse. The pedophile is sent to OHEL for treatment, he pleads to a lesser charge or charges are dropped entirely, the pedophile is not placed on sex offender registries and his free access to children is undisturbed.

OHEL is allegedly complicit in this as is Hynes himself – and so are haredi rabbis, who use White's services, provided to them by and endorsed by Brooklyn's elected DA, Charles Hynes.

White plays a key role in Kol Tzedek, Hynes' attempt to reach out to haredi rabbis and to bring them into the process of haredi child sex abuse prosecution. What you have just read is an outline of how Kol Tzedek is allegedly being run.

Does reporting suspected child sex abuse to a liason of the Brooklyn DA fulfil New York State's mandatory reporting law?

No. From what I've seen, it does not.

What Charles Hynes is allegedly doing is allowing haredim to skirt mandatory reporting laws. At the same time, he is perverting the spirit and intent of those laws and he is endangering children in the process.

Hynes might argue that some cooperation from haredi rabbis, no matter how minor, is an improvement, and what he's doing will allow him to prosecute some haredi pedophiles he otherwise would not be able to touch.

But the truth is, the system Hynes has allegedly approved will allow pedophiles to escape prosecution or to escape meaningful prosecution, and will let them loose to offend again. And it will also hurt those few inside the haredi community and the activists outside it who have tried, often at considerable risk, to get haredi pedophiles arrested and prosecuted.

Therapy for pedophila rarely works. Pedophiles have an extremely high recidivism rate, and pedophilia is one of the most under-reported crimes.

Most pedophiles are never reported to police or a state's abuse hotline mechanism.

The average pedophile molests well over 100 children in his lifetime.

The only thing that stops most pedophiles from re-offending is keeping them away from their potential victims.

That is best accomplished when a pedophile is incarcerated.

To get pedophiles off the streets, trained forensic child sex abuse investigators must be allowed to investigate allegations without the interference of rabbis, liaisons and haredi community fixers.

Keeping cops and ACS out of the loop means that many cases of haredi child sex abuse will never be properly prosecuted because the evidence needed to properly prosecute won't be there.

Worse yet, the reason for that absence of evidence, and perhaps the evidence's absence itself, will never be known to the public.

Most likely, nothing will change in Brooklyn until the day US Department of Justice investigates and prosecutes the violations of haredi child sex abuse victims' civil rights caused by Charles Hynes, Henna White and the haredi rabbis (and haredi bloc voters) Hynes is trying to please.

And that day cannot come too soon.