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

(page 2 of 4)

After — by his own admission — almost two decades of failing to adequately prosecute sex abuse in the ultra-Orthodox community, Hynes set up a special program called Kol Tzedek, which means “Voice of Justice,” in 2009. Hynes claims to have brought 99 cases as a direct result of the program.

Rhonnie Jaus
shulamit seidler-feller
Rhonnie Jaus

His refusal to name the people charged in those cases, plus his apparent tacit support of Agudah’s stringent policy on reporting crimes, led him into a hornet’s nest of criticism. Jewish publications, including this paper, have repeatedly hammered him over the issue. A recent series in the New York Times redoubled the pressure.

Zwiebel says that when he met with Hynes last year to discuss rabbinic involvement in the reporting process, Hynes did not find anything about the consultation process that was “inconsistent with the standards of secular law.”

But Hynes said he told Zwiebel that “advising rabbis to screen sex abuse is a mistake” not just because they have no expertise in the matter.

He also underlined that rabbis, or anyone else, who shield abusers, could face criminal charges. He added, however, that because there is no law stopping a person consulting their pastor he had “no authority to object.”

The post of district attorney is an elected position and Hynes has won lopsided electoral victories since taking office in 1989. Hynes’s seemingly cozy relationship with Orthodox leaders has led critics, including survivor advocates and legal specialists, to accuse the DA of tacitly supporting rabbinic involvement in return for the community’s block vote.

Hynes countered that it was “madness” to infer that he is “advising rabbis not to send information” to the authorities. He pointed to his memorandum of understanding with the Catholic Church that mandates priests must report abuse.

“Why in the name of God would I… then do it a different way with Orthodox Jews?” he asked.

He mocked critics who claimed he was beholden to Orthodox Jewish leaders, calling them ‘Alice in Wonderland.’

“Well I have a helluva way of showing my gratitude, don’t I, with 99 prosecutions,” he sharply remarked.

The prohibition in Jewish law against informing on a fellow Jew to the authorities, known as mesirah, is central to the issue of reporting abuse for ultra-Orthodox Jews.


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.