Brooklyn District Attorney Candidate Ken Thompson Backpedals on Hasidic Abuse Scandal

Insists Has Open Mind on Sam Kellner Extortion Case

Say What? Brooklyn District Attorney frontrunner Ken Thompson has slammed his opponent Charles Hynes for prosecuting a prominent advocate for abuse victims in the Hasidic community. Why is he now hedging his position?
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Say What? Brooklyn District Attorney frontrunner Ken Thompson has slammed his opponent Charles Hynes for prosecuting a prominent advocate for abuse victims in the Hasidic community. Why is he now hedging his position?

By Paul Berger

Published November 01, 2013.
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Asked about the error regarding Lebovits’s case, Thompson repeated that it was “not proper” for him to comment on pending cases. Thompson stunned political observers in September when he won the Democratic nomination for District Attorney, beating Hynes, who has held the office for 24 years.

Hynes conceded and offered to smooth Thompson’s transition into office. Then, in a dramatic reversal, Hynes changed his mind and opted to run on the Republican ticket.

The Brooklyn D.A.’s race has been marred by mud-slinging on both sides, including vicious Yiddish-language ads. One ad, posted in two Satmar newspapers, blamed Thompson’s primary victory on “the minority element that seeks lawlessness.”

Supporters of Thompson, who is black, have condemned the ad as racist. Hynes denied having sponsored the ad. At the same time, he denied it was racist. Thompson told the Forward that the ad was “disgraceful.”

He also criticized Hynes for his previous statements labeling the ultra-Orthodox community as “worse than the mafia.” Hynes was referring to the prevalence of witness intimidation against victims of sex abuse who choose to cooperate with police.

“The mafia kills. The mafia murders,” Thompson said. “And for [Hynes] as a top prosecutor to compare any community in Brooklyn to the mafia is wrong.”

Thompson said that he would wait until he was in office before he makes a decision about whether to continue Kol Tzedek, a program started by Hynes to combat sex abuse in the Orthodox community.

Hynes controversially refused to divulge names of people accused and even convicted of abuse against Orthodox children. He argued that shielding perpetrators’ names protected the identity of the victim.

Thompson has vowed to end the practice.

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


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