Israel will not extradite alleged sex offender to US

By Paul Berger, January 28, 2010
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Abraham Mondrowitz: escorted to court by an Israeli policeman in 2007

Abraham Mondrowitz: escorted to court by an Israeli policeman in 2007

A strictly Orthodox man suspected of molesting children has escaped extradition from Israel to the US.

Abraham Mondrowitz fled to Jerusalem in 1985 after being charged with sodomising four boys in Brooklyn. According to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, Mondrowitz gained the trust of parents by passing himself off as a school psychologist using a phony degree. An attempt by the Brooklyn DA’s office to return Mondrowitz to America in 1985 failed because the alleged crime was not covered by an extradition agreement with Israel.

That agreement was amended in 2007 and he was arrested by Israeli police, who found four films containing child pornography in his home, according to court papers. But his extradition has been tied up in the Israeli courts.

Earlier this month, the Israeli Supreme Court refused the Brooklyn DA’s extradition request, questioning whether Mondrowitz would receive a fair trial because of the time elapsed since the alleged crimes and suggesting he ought to be tried in Israel.

The Brooklyn District Attorney, Charles Hynes, has been accused in the past of dragging his feet on sex abuse cases in the strictly Orthodox community. But, recently, his office has pursued such cases aggressively and in the past year there have been about 25 arrests.

This year, the trial is due to begin of Brooklyn Rabbi Baruch Lebovits, charged with 75 counts of sexual assault involving three boys over four years. Rabbi David Greenfeld, a Brooklyn yeshivah teacher, will also go on trial soon accused of abusing a 15-year-old boy.

A spokesman for the Brooklyn DA’s office, Jerry Schmetterer, said Mr Hynes was disappointed with the Israeli Supreme Court decision.

He said his office was in touch with the US Department of Justice and the Israeli Ministry of Justice, to explore options for an appeal.

“Mondrowitz, I understand, is under house arrest,“ he said. “He’s been in prison for two years, so it’s not like he’s escaping justice completely.”

Mondrowitz’s house arrest ended this week.

Meanwhile, a New Jersey lawyer representing several clients who claim they were abused by Mondrowitz, told the New York Jewish Week that he has uncovered evidence that Mondrowitz has continued his practice of treating young boys in Israel. Michael Lesher, an attorney and a writer specialising in sexual abuse cases, says a document obtained from Mondrowitz’s computer shows a 15-year-old boy was assessed by Mondrowitz in 2006.

“We have always heard from the rabbis that, whatever has happened, in Israel, Mondrowitz has been kept away from children. Taking this at face value, it seems, that is not true.”

    Last updated: 4:40pm, January 28 2010