By Christopher Robbins (Gothamist)
May 12, 2012
Following a series of articles in the Times detailing Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes' willingness to allow ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities to self-police cases of sexual abuse, Mayor Bloomberg says he "completely disagrees" with Hynes' methods. "Any abuse allegations should be brought to law enforcement, who are trained to assess their accuracy and act appropriately," the mayor's spokesman Marc LaVorgna tells the paper.
In the past, the Brooklyn DA's office has accommodated requests by ultra-Orthodox rabbis that they should first hear any accusations of sexual abuse within their communities before they are reported to law enforcement.
The Times found that this self-policing often leads to lenient penalties for the accused, ostracism of the victim's families, and in some cases, blaming the victim for the crimes. Former Manhattan prosecutor Bennett L. Gershman, who is now a professor at Pace University Law School, called Hynes' policy "illogical, and almost perverse."
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan BP Scott Stringer also disputed Hynes' policy. "Our first concern is with victims of crime, especially potential victims of child abuse, and the first call should be to the appropriate law enforcement authorities," Quinn said. Stringer concurred: "Law enforcement must focus all its attention on protecting victims, not on shielding abusers."
Former Mayor Ed Koch told Capital NY's Azi Paybarah that Hynes "made a terrible error here." Koch adds, "We're all equal under the law and they have to subscribe to the law without getting preferential treatment. It's just dead wrong. And there's no explanation to make it right in any way."