By Failed Messiah blog
Deecember 11, 2011
I've dealt with dozens of reporters over the years. The New York Post's Susan Edelman is the only one (other than a novice college reporter who contacted me earlier this year) who comes to a story with a preconceived notion of what that story is, and tries to force the facts – and the people she interviews – to fit with her idea.
My experience with Edelman is that facts that don't fit with her preconceived notion are ignored, even when those facts prove her wrong.
Several months ago, I told her I wouldn't work with her again because of that.
But nine days ago she sent me an email from Susan asking if she could call me that afternoon. She wrote that she was doing a story on Kol Tsedek, had read my article on Agudath Israel of America, and wanted to talk. Despite my misgivings, I answered that she could call me and I enclosed my phone number.
And then I waited for a call that didn't come.
This type of behavior isn't that unusual for reporters, although most would be quick to apologize for it the next business day or if not that, the next time they talk to you.
That a reporter is rude isn't a crime, and it's certainly nothing to get excited about. So if that was all there was that was spiking my displeasure, you'd never hear about it.
Unfortunately, Edelman didn't restrict her poor behavior to rudeness.
A reporter who omits key facts in order to write a story that is, essentially, false, has damaged the person or persons those facts support. And she has also damaged you because our system depends on honest reporting to help keep the playing field as even as possible for everyone.
Edeleman eventually called me last week, a few days after that email exchange. She was interested in the Andrew Goodman case, which is featured prominently in her main article today. I asked her about her email from the week before. She said that topic would be part of her report, and she asked what I thought about Hynes' claim that "89" haredi pedophiles had been arrested since late 2009 because of the work his office had done.
I told her what I reported, that haredi uber fixer Tzvi Gluck said publicly that many of those cases were fixed by Hynes, and that Hynes' refusal to release the names of these 89 pedophiles and the resolution of their cases was allowing Hynes to hide the sweetheart deals he allegedly gave these haredi pedophiles.
Edelman told me the DA's office had refused to give her information on those cases, other than some general claims – claims made previously to the Forward, the JTA and others.
I gave her the names of three activists to speak with and I again pointed out that withholding the names of these offenders allowed Hynes to cover up his preferential treatment of haredi offenders and referred her to a recording Tzvi Gluck's remarks made on Zev Brenner's radio show a week earlier.
Remember that Gluck said loudly, clearly and with extreme disgust that most of those cases had been fixed by Hynes. The pedophiles were kept away from cops and the press, they were allowed to plead to misdameanors with sentencing recomendations for no prision time, keeping them off the sex offender registry, and were sent to Ohel for therapy.
That Gluck would say this on air for public consumption is astounding – far more astounding than the number of haredi pedophiles Hynes claims to have dealt with since 2009.
What Gluck said confirms what many activists have long claimed. It also confirms what I recently reported – Agudath Israel of America and Hynes had worked out a deal that allowed haredi rabbis to determine which suspicions of child sex abuse should be reported to civil authorities and which should not, and which allows those haredi rabbis to report those cases they choose to directly to Hynes' Jewish liaison, Henna White, rather than police or ACS, keeping the cases out of the public spotlight and away from the professionals most able to determine the actual threat to children, and who are the best equipped to do the forensic child sex abuse investigations necessary for successful prosecutions.
If Black or Hispanic leaders had worked out a deal with Hynes whereby a member of their community serving as a special liaison would become the point of entry for their pedphilia claims, that Hispanic or Black ministers would determine which abuse allegations would be brought to her and which would not be reported at all, and that she and Hynes would then plead out the vast majority of these pedophiles, giving most of them no jail time and no sex offender registration, we'd all be justifiably outraged.
After all, these pedophiles can and probably would prey on more children, and some of those children cvould even be ours.
But this is exactly what Hynes and Henna White are doing, except the pedophiles and the community involved are haredi.
That any subgroup of Americans should get preferential treatment that includes sweetheart plea deals based on their subgroup affiliation is a clear violation of the victims' civil rights and the civil rights of those criminals who are not members of this religious community and who therefore do not get this special preferrential treatment.
Yet Edelman ignores the complaints about Hynes and White, and she ignores Gluck's very public statement.
(She also "ignores" the Forward, which broke the story of Hynes' claim, and she ignores extensive reporting by The Jewish Week that puts Hynes claim in a very questionable light, and my own reporting and other's reporting that broke other parts of this wider story.)
Instead, she takes the claims made by Hynes' office' at face value and does not quote activists who reject them or press Hynes for details that could be used to confirm or disprove his claims, and she makes White into a heroine.
Those of you who don't deal with journalism ethics issues or reporters may not understand the severity of Edelman's violations, but they are, nonetheless, extremely serious.
The DA's excuse for not making the names of these haredi pedophiles public is that victims are harassed (by haredi community activists and rabbis, but White is careful not to clarify this point and Edelman doesn't really ask), and therefore the pedophiles names must be kept quiet so the unnamed harassers can't harass the pedophiles' victims.
The truth is that in any cases without sweetheart deals, the victims are vulnerable to threats, extortion and other forms of harassment from haredi community activists and rabbis, even if the pedophiles names are not made public. The way to stop this harassment is to prosecute the people who do it – including the haredi rabbis who do it.
Not allowing the names of pedophiles to become public may temporarily protect some victims, but it will hurt more haredi children, and it also also means the DA can hide what he's doing, and that is very dangerous.
One of the reasons criminals names are supposed to be part of the public record is so the public can see what its courts and police are doing.
That's why trials are open to the public.
But when the DA makes a deal with a specific religious group; allegedly goes easy on members of that group who commit certain crimes as long as they agree to plead guilty to very reduced charges and go to therapy inside their community when the same deal would not be given to the average pedophile who is not a member of that religious group; and makes claims of radically increased arrests and prosecutions of this religious group's criminals but hides key information that would show whether or not the numbers given by the DA are correct, and whether or not the disposition of those cases was fair; you have major problem.
If 20 haredi pedophiles were turned in under a scheme that ensured that none of them would end up on the sex offender registry or do prison time, has that done anything to make the streets (and the shuls, yeshivas and mikvas) any safer for haredi kids?
No it has not.
What if that number was 40 or 50 or even 60? Would that make the streets any safer for haredi kids?
No, it would not.
But this is exactly what Charles Hynes has allegedly done, and this is exactly what the New York Post failed to report – even though the Post had a ton of credible information contradicting Hynes, and even though Hynes' office did not give the Post any way to verify his claims.
In theory, each one of these haredi pedophiles should have a record on the New York State's Courts' website. But there is no way to verify this unless the names are known. There is no way to search by zip code or type of offense.
So we really do not know how many haredi pedophiles were arrested or any other details of their cases past what we know about a handful of cases made public before this.
If Tzvi Gluck is right, it is almost certain that today a kid will be raped by a pedophile known to someone involved in Hynes' alleged deal – an Agudah gadol, a haredi rosh yeshiva, Henna White, even Hynes himself. This pedophile may even be in the middle of his mandated treatment at Ohel, treatment that no matter who gives it or where it is given almost never works.
Until there is real proof to the contrary made public – the names of each of these "89" haredi pedopiles and the disposition of each case, along with proof of which victims were threatened, which intimidated, when and, if known, by whom – and this proof is closely checked and verified, what Tzvi Gluck said should be regarded as the presumptive truth.
It is also interesting to note that even with all the intimidation of haredi victims by haredi community activists and rabbis, there don't seem to be prosecutions for witness tampering or obstruction of justice or extortion.
Why that is the case is a question Edelman should have asked Hynes' office and should have answered in her article. But she didn't.
This was shockingly bad, unethical journalism.
And the people who will suffer the most from it are almost certainly little haredi boys.