Brooklyn D.A. Refuses To Name Child Sex Abusers

85 Arrested, But Charles Hynes Won't Say Who They Are

By Paul Berger

Published December 14, 2011, issue of December 23, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Law enforcement officials, legal experts, advocates and politicians have questioned why Brooklyn’s District Attorney arrested 85 Orthodox adults on child sex abuse charges but refuses to release their names.

In just three years, District Attorney Charles Hynes has arrested 83 Orthodox men and two women on charges including sexual abuse, attempted kidnapping and sodomy.

Unnamed: District Attorney Charles Hynes, center, says that a state law prevents him from giving up the names of those arrested. Legal experts disagree.
Kings County District Attorney's Office
Unnamed: District Attorney Charles Hynes, center, says that a state law prevents him from giving up the names of those arrested. Legal experts disagree.

But when asked to reveal names — even of the 14 abusers who were convicted of sex crimes — Hynes refuses.

“Under the Civil Rights Law of New York State, we cannot release the names of any victim of sexual assault or any information that would tend to identify them,” said a spokesman for Hynes’s office. Yet, on December 14, Hynes issued a press release announcing the sentencing of Gerald Hatcher, 47, to 72 years in prison for raping his girlfriend’s 11-year-old daughter. Hatcher “was living with his girlfriend and her daughter in their Bedford-Stuyvesant home,” the D.A.’s statement said. The neighborhood is largely non-Jewish.

Sex abuse specialists say prosecutors often withhold names because crimes involve family members, and naming the abuser may inadvertently reveal the identity of victims.

But Jeff Anderson, a lawyer who specializes in sex abuse cases, said the D.A. has arrested too many people for that to be the sole reason to maintain the Orthodox abusers’ anonymity.

“Something else is going on here that I don’t understand and I can’t quite explain,” said Anderson, who has worked on numerous clergy abuse cases and who recently filed a civil lawsuit in the Penn State University sex abuse case.

The Forward has pressed Hynes for weeks to confirm the stunning number of arrests of members of Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox communities, first reported in the Forward on November 11. But the D.A.’s spokesman has not returned phone calls or e-mails requesting comment.

Instead, Rhonnie Jaus, the head of the sex crimes division in the District Attorney’s office, confirmed a figure of 85 arrests to the New York Post on December 11.

The arrests are a sharp contrast to a decade ago, when it was noteworthy if Hynes prosecuted any Orthodox sex abuse cases. In October 2009, Hynes made headlines after announcing the arrest of 26 Orthodox abusers over two years.

Hynes attributed the recent dramatic increase in arrests to Kol Tzedek, a hotline for Orthodox survivors to anonymously report abuse that he launched in January 2009.

Observers within and outside Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox communities agree that the religious culture of its residents confronts law enforcement authorities with special challenges in bringing sex abuse cases to justice. Leading rabbis may invoke Judaic religious laws such as mesirah — a prohibition against informing on a fellow Jew to secular authorities — and the prohibition against lashon harah, evil gossip, as justification for not reporting abuse to law enforcement officials. Community members often feel religiously obligated to heed their rabbis, or face communal ostracism if they don’t.

Ocean County prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford, whose jurisdiction includes the heavily Orthodox enclave of Lakewood, N.J., said she was impressed that Hynes had persuaded so many victims to come forward. “I think it’s a very positive thing,” she said.

But she added that it was unusual to withhold the names of accused molesters. Once a person is arrested, Ford said her office treats each case as a public matter.

“While we would not release names of people merely being investigated for any criminal charge,” Ford said, “once somebody has been charged it’s certainly something that is a matter of public interest.”


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!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • 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.