Brooklyn prosecutor under fire over Charedi sex abuse

By Nathalie Rothschild, May 24, 2012
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Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has come under fire for his handling of accusations of child sex abuse in the strictly Orthodox community.

A recent New York Times article outlined the prosecutor’s close ties to influential rabbis in Brooklyn’s expanding Orthodox neighbourhoods and reported that victims’ rights groups have accused Mr Hynes of failing properly to investigate the growing number of abuse allegations.

Mr Hynes has been criticised for not speaking out against a Charedi policy requiring members of the community to report suspicions of abuse to a rabbi, who then decides whether or not to notify the police.

Mr Hynes has also refused to make public the names of those formally charged and convicted of sexually abusing children within strictly-Orthodox communities in Brooklyn. He has argued that revealing names of perpetrators within the insular, tight-knit communities would leave victims exposed.

Mr Hynes defended himself in an op-ed for the New York Daily News. He called suggestions that he has covered up or downplayed sex offences “absurd”. He pointed out that he founded Kol Tzedek in 2009, a programme aimed at addressing the problem of sex abuse going unreported in the Orthodox community.

Since Kol Tzedek’s inception, Mr Hynes said, “we have made 95 arrests; 53 cases have been adjudicated, with a conviction rate of 72 per cent”.

Mr Hynes’s defence came after New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former mayor Edward Koch weighed in on the debate.

In a statement to the New York Times, a spokesman said Mr Bloomberg “completely disagrees” with the decision by the DA not to challenge a strictly Orthodox advocacy group’s refusal to report allegations of child sexual abuse. In a blog, Mr Koch accused the DA of “blessing the obstruction of justice”.

Last updated: 2:33pm, May 24 2012