Brooklyn D.A. Can Keep Abuse Files Secret

Lawyer Sees Hope in Court Decision on Mondrowitz Case

By Paul Berger

Published April 04, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A dogged lawyer has lost his years-long battle to force Brooklyn’s District Attorney to release a trove of documents related to a alleged Orthodox child molester.

Michael Lesher
Michael Lesher

But attorney Michael Lesher believes the New York state Court of Appeals left him a legal opening to eventually win the release of the documents.

Lesher used New York’s freedom of information law to pursue the DA’s files on Avrohom Mondrowitz, a self-styled child psychologist from Brooklyn.

Mondrowitz fled to Israel before police could arrest him on charges of sodomizing five non-Jewish boys. Advocates believe he also abused dozens of Jewish victims, most of whom were too scared to contact authorities.

District Attorney Charles Hynes has long argued that releasing his files on Mondrowitz could jeopardize a future prosecution. He also claims they might reveal the identities of abuse victims.

The court battle reached New York’s Court of Appeals in February. On April 3, the court ruled that the state’s Freedom of Information Law allows officials to withhold documents if they could jeopardize active investigations or judicial proceedings, the Associated Press reported.

Hynes’s spokesman Jerry Schmetterer claimed victory for the policy of withholding the documents which he said protects, “the identify of these victims and their families from harassment by mindless and misguided people.”

“Mr. Lesher continues to attempt to force us to remove the protective shield which is the right of every victim of sexual abuse,” Schmetterer added.

Schmetterer’s comments notwithstanding, the court did not address Hynes’ practice of refusing to identify Orthodox Jews charged with sex abuse. The D.A. claims that releasing the names of those suspects or basic information about their crimes, which is a routine practice elsewhere, would somehow identify their victims.

Lesher believes the ruling actually could wind up helping his case because the Israeli Supreme Court has since refused a request to extradite Mondrowitz.

With extradition proceedings exhausted, Lesher believes there is no active investigation into Mondrowitz, and therefore no legal reason to keep the documents secret. The court appeared to agree.

“If (Lesher) is correct in his assessment of the decision’s effect,” the court decision concluded, “there is, practically speaking, no longer any pending or potential law enforcement investigation or judicial proceeding with which disclosure might interfere.”

Lesher said the decision implies that the files should be made public if a new request is made.

“So now I’m going to file a new FOIL request,” Lesher said, “and eventually the contents of the file will be public knowledge, which is what I’ve aimed at all along.”

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com or on Twitter @pdberger


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!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • 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.