Charles Hynes Fires Back at Critics and Brooklyn Orthodox Leaders

Prosecutor Defends Controversial Sex Abuse Policy

Firing Back: Sensing his legacy at stake, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes fired back at critics in a landmark extensive interview.
shulamit seidler-feller
Firing Back: Sensing his legacy at stake, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes fired back at critics in a landmark extensive interview.

By Paul Berger

Published May 29, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Brooklyn’s embattled district attorney Charles Hynes sharply criticized an ultra-Orthodox umbrella group and launched a fierce defense of his record in prosecuting child sex abuse during a landmark interview with the Forward.

Sitting in the 14th floor corner office of his downtown Brooklyn headquarters, Hynes said he was in “sharp disagreement” with Agudath Israel of America’s policy that a rabbi “who has experience in the area of abuse and molestation” must be consulted before suspected abusers can be reported to the authorities.

Hynes said the policy is misguided because rabbis “have no experience or expertise in sex abuse.” He said that he had underlined his opposition to rabbis screening allegations during a telephone call with Rabbi David Zwiebel, Agudah’s executive vice president, earlier on the morning of the May 24 interview.

“(Zwiebel) still thinks they have a responsibility to screen,” Hynes said, “I disagree.”


Hynes says he is pushing for a new state law requiring rabbis to report abuse. Lawmakers question his timing.


The veteran prosecutor took the remarkable step of speaking directly to the Jewish community through the Forward after months of mounting criticism over his office’s handling of child sex crimes in the Orthodox community.

Hynes mostly adopted a laid-back, friendly attitude during the hourlong interview, occasionally interrupting the discussion with folksy anecdotes.

The consummate Irish-American politician sought to underline his affinity for the community by peppering the interview with Yiddish phrases and Jewish expressions.

“Apparently only this goy understands,” the best way to prosecute abuse, Hynes remarked wryly.

But the white-haired Hynes seemed weary at the toll the criticism has taken. He also seemed frustrated that his legacy could be permanently tarnished by the issue, especially his stubborn refusal to release the names of almost 100 ultra-Orthodox Jews charged with child sex crimes since 2009.

“I won’t buckle to repeated attacks on my integrity because people are so hellbent on finding every bit of information they can,” Hynes said.

The interview came at perhaps the most tumultuous moment of Hynes four-decade career as a prosecutor. Brooklyn-bred and the product of Roman Catholic schools, he won his name by cracking down on fraud in government medical programs. As a special prosecutor, he famously won convictions in the explosive case of several white men who chased a black man to his death in the Howard Beach neighborhood in 1986.


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!
  • "Selma. Nearly 50 years ago it was violent Selma, impossibly racist Selma, site of Bloody Sunday, when peaceful civil rights marchers made their first attempt to cross the Pettus Street Bridge on the way to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama." http://jd.fo/r50mf With the 50th anniversary approaching next spring, a new coalition is bringing together blacks, Jews and others for progressive change.
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • 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.