Child Sex Arrests Spike. Or Do They?

Brooklyn Prosecutor Says 89 Charged But Withholds Details

By Paul Berger

Published November 11, 2011, issue of November 18, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes claims to have arrested an unprecedented 89 men on child sex-abuse charges in the ultra-Orthodox communities in Brooklyn over the past two years — but declines to provide any details backing up the numbers or to give the status of any of the cases.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes
getty images
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes

Sexual abuse survivors and their advocates have long harried Hynes for allegedly overlooking molesters in the borough’s tight-knit, ultra-Orthodox communities. They charge that Hynes fears political retaliation from the borough’s powerful rabbinic leaders and their bloc-voting Orthodox voters.

Hynes heatedly denies this. And the data he offered the Forward seems to suggest a breakthrough. But his office’s refusal to provide even basic details on any of these cases makes it impossible to evaluate and confirm the true nature and extent of Hynes’ claim.

Initially, when the Forward requested data in mid-October on child sex abuse arrests in the Orthodox community, Jerry Schmetterer, the D.A.’s spokesman, said his office does not compile statistics based on the “race or religion” of people it arrests.

When the Forward brought to his attention that the D.A.’s office released a similar statistic in 2009 — of 26 Orthodox men who had been arrested for sexual abuse over the previous two years — Schmetterer said he would consult the D.A.’s sex crimes bureau.

Rabbi Baruch Lebovits
getty images
Rabbi Baruch Lebovits

In late October, Schmetterer said that 89 Orthodox men had been arrested and charged with sex abuse since October 2009.

He repeated the claim twice, in two separate conversations. But when the Forward asked for written confirmation and posed a number of follow-up questions, Schmetterer declined to respond.

“We are not prepared to discuss this at this time,” Schmetterer said in an October 27 e-mail. “Perhaps towards the end of November.”

Just why the D.A.’s office would be unwilling to respond is unclear, particularly because the staggering figure appears to bolster the D.A.’s claim that he is getting tough on Orthodox abuse.

In October 2009, the figure of 26 arrests was seen as a landmark following decades during which the D.A. rarely prosecuted sex abuse cases against Orthodox men despite advocates’ claims that the problem was rampant. The New York Times ran a Page One story trumpeting the change.

But the latest number — much like the 2009 figure — has proved impossible to verify.

The Forward combed through news reports and interviewed people who specialize in sex abuse cases.

Since October 2009, the Forward was able to find nine arrests and three convictions of Orthodox men, including that of Boro Park rabbi Baruch Lebovits, currently out on bail and under house arrest pending an appeal.

Asher Lipner, a clinical psychologist who is also an advocate for survivors of abuse, said he was not aware of anything near 89 arrests during the past two years. “If that’s the case,” Lipner said, “how come there haven’t been too many convictions?”

Ben Hirsch, president of Survivors for Justice, said the D.A.’s figures raised a “very troubling question.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.