Hynes Fires Back at Critics and Orthodox Leaders

Brooklyn 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!
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • 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.