For nearly three decades, Jacob Daskal has been chasing criminal suspects through the streets of Boro Park as the head of the Shomrim, a private Orthodox Jewish security patrol he founded.
On Thursday, the tables were turned. Police in Brooklyn arrested Daskal for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl. He has been charged with rape in the third degree, among other charges.
Daskal did not answer his phone on Thursday afternoon.
The arrest, first reported by the New York Daily News, shocked the tight-knit Hasidic-dominated neighborhood of Boro Park. Daskal, the president of the Shomrim and one of its founders, has enjoyed exceptionally close ties to the leadership of the local police precinct in Boro Park, and a prominent position in the community.
“Obviously, it’s disturbing,” state Assemblyman Dov Hikind told the Forward. “I’m just digesting it. My phone hasn’t stopped with the messages. I’m in my office. He lives down the block here.”
According to police, Daskal faces allegations that he had sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old between August and November of 2017.
Daskal is the central figure in the Shomrim, also known as the Brooklyn South Safety Patrol. The organization, made up largely of local Hasidic business owners in Boro Park, patrols Boro Park in marked cars and is a powerful force in the neighborhood. Daskal was one of the original “Bakery Boys,” the loose gang of young Hasidic men who formed the group with police support in the mid-1990s.
Since then, Daskal and the Shomrim have cultivated close ties to the local precinct. A former member of the Shomrim told the Forward in 2016 that Daskal was able to arrange for Orthodox Jews arrested on minor crimes in Boro Park to be released with a ticket ordering them to appear before a judge, rather than being booked through the central system. Daskal denied at the time that he played that role.
In 2012, Daskal argued against giving police access publicly-funded security cameras installed throughout Boro Park, telling the Forward that it could lead to unwanted police involvement in domestic violence matters. “The camera is very good for the community, but if it’s a private thing,” Daskal told the Forward at the time. “If it’s a public thing it might hurt a person who doesn’t want to arrest her husband for domestic violence.”
The Shomrim has drawn increased scrutiny in recent years. In 2017, a former leader of the patrol named Shaya Lichtenstein was sentenced to federal prison for bribing police to speed up the process of issuing gun licenses. In 2016, the city funds that substantially support the Shomrim were frozen following the arrest of Lichntenstein.
The Shomrim’s executive director, Mark Katz, said he had no immediate statement about the arrest.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.