Four Years of Revealing Child Sexual Abuse in Ultra-Orthodox Jewish CommunitiesThe Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism
May 15, 2012
After the New York Times published its two-part series about child sexual abuse in ultra-Orthodox communities, long time observers of reporting on these issues questioned why the Times had not credited the previous significant work done by journalists in the Jewish and secular press, including the groundbreaking reporting of Schuster Institute Senior Fellow Hella Winston, who published her freelance stories in The New York Jewish Week.
By not doing so, the Times' series begs the question of whether the Jewish press had been turning a blind eye to what Winston's reporting—and the Times' stories—describe as being a longstanding abuse of power by a Jewish sect. On the Village Voice's website, Nick Pinto details examples of the prior reporting that informed the Times' coverage, including four references to Winston's investigative stories.
Investigative journalist and Schuster Institute Senior Fellow Hella Winston has been reporting on issues revolving around child sexual abuse in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities for four years. Her investigative articles have been published in The New York Jewish Week.
Awareness of these issues first arose when an anonymous blogger calling himself Unorthodox Jew began posting about it on his blog in 2005. A 2006 story in New York Magazine focused on an ultra-Orthodox teacher who is alleged to have sexually abused 40 boys over a four-year period. That story paved the way for Winston to begin her reporting.
Since 2008 The Jewish Week has published numerous stories exploring many dimensions—cultural, legal and political—of the child sexual abuse problem in ultra-Orthodox communities. She has told not only the stories of abuse survivors but also of the attempts by rabbis and the communal leadership to keep these allegations from the secular authorities and out of the press.
Winston has also chronicled the rise of grass-roots activism about these issues and documented the response to it by public officials, most notably the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. Read about Hella Winston's persistent efforts to bring this issue to public attention. Follow links to her ground-breaking reporting.
Hella Winston's Reporting
Despite many roadblocks, including community members' fears of speaking out and a lack of transparency from both the communal leadership and law enforcement authorities, Hella Winston, perhaps more than any other journalist, has reported relentlessly and extensively about this issue.
She has focused primarily on institutions—both within and outside of these communities—that have played a role in protecting perpetrators and their enablers. These include religious tribunals, schools, community-based social service organizations, therapists, unsupervised volunteer neighborhood security patrols (funded, in part, by public monies) and local law enforcement.
Winston has described a world in which victims typically refuse to report child abuse allegations to local law enforcement for fear of being stigmatized and branded as "informers" by religious leaders who have repeatedly declared that all allegations of abuse must first be reported to rabbis. As such, these communities have developed what some have described as a parallel, or private, justice system. Despite the many ways such a system violates the law, Winston has reported that some law enforcement agencies have tolerated this practice for political reasons. Indeed, Winston notes that her investigations into this parallel justice system have been hampered over the years by weak public accountability, particularly on the part of the Brooklyn district attorney's office.
Editorial: Verdict Not In On Hynes—The Jewish Week, May 8, 2012
Brooklyn DA, In Shift, Opens Window On Abusers' Names—Hella Winston, April 24, 2011, The Jewish Week.
Abuse Case Dates Suggest Brooklyn DA Is Cooking Numbers For Kol Tzedek Hotline—Hella Winston, April 24, 2011, The Jewish Week.
High Court Ruling on Mondrowitz 'Troublesome'—Hella Winston, April 10, 2011, The Jewish Week.
Abuse Case Raising Statute Questions—The Jewish Week, February 28, 2012
Fight Over Mondrowitz Documents Coming To A Head—The Jewish Week, February 7, 2012
Brooklyn DA Released Abusers' Names In Recent Years—The Jewish Week, December 20, 2011
News Of Abuse Arrests Hailed, Questioned—The Jewish Week, December 13, 2011
In Lakewood Abuse Cases, A 'Parallel Justice System'—The Jewish Week, December 6, 2011
Tragedy in Borough Park Puts Shomrin Under Scrutiny: Community watchdogs are praised, criticized for actions and delay—The Jewish Week, July 22, 2011
Ohel Campaign to Bolster Image Questioned—The Jewish Week, May 31, 2011
Court to Rule on Release of Mondrowitz Records—The Jewish Week (Staff report written by Hella Winston), May 10, 2011
Abuse Case Tests Ohel’s Adherence—The Jewish Week, February 25, 2011
Kolko Allegedly Intimidating Boy Set to Testify in Abuse Case—The Jewish Week, November 19, 2010
One for Abuse Victims—The Jewish Week, April 13, 2010
Mondrowitz Extradition Ruling Raising Questions—The Jewish Week, January 29, 2010
Mondrowitz May Have Been Treating Boys Long After Indictment—The Jewish Week, January 21, 2010
BREAKING: Israeli Supreme Court: No Extradition For Mondrowitz; Brooklyn DA 'Disappointed'—The Jewish Week, January 15, 2010
Judge Lashes Out at Orthodox Community in Sex-Abuse Case; Says it Protects Abusers, Not Victims—The Jewish Week, October 2, 2009
Colmer Plea Deal Seen Raising Questions—The Jewish Week, June 19, 2009
Protest At Agudah—The Jewish Week, May 21, 2009
A Suspected Pedophile Eludes The System—The Jewish Week, May 6, 2009
Mondrowitz Accusers Seen Ready To Testify—The Jewish Week, December 30, 2008
Mondrowitz Extradition Case Thrown Into Limbo—The Jewish Week, December 19, 2008
Scrutiny of Hikind Intensifies—The Jewish Week, November 25, 2008
Anti-Abuse Rabbi Says He's In Danger—The Jewish Week, November 21, 2008
Hikind Subpoenaed on Sex-Abuse Information—The Jewish Week, November 14, 2008
Hikind Reports Second Reichman Allegation—The Jewish Week, September 17, 2008
Top Doc Scared Off Panel On Rabbinic Sex Molesters—The Jewish Week, September 12, 2008
A Charge of Double Betrayal in Williamsburg—The Jewish Week, September 5, 2008
No Sex Charge for Kolko; Boys’ Parents Foiled by DA—The Jewish Week, April 18, 2008
Yeshiva Fired, Then Paid, Rabbi Charged With Abuse—The Jewish Week, April 2, 2008
Fight Against Intimidation Must Rage On—Michael Lesher, The New York Post, December 11, 2011
The Uphill Battle to Expose Abusers—Ben Hirsch, November 22, 2011, The Jewish Week
Bloomberg Among Critics of Prosecutor in Brooklyn—Ray Rivera and Sharon Otterman, The New York Times, May 11, 2012
For Ultra-Orthodox Abuse Cases, Prosecutor Has Different Rules—Ray Rivera and Sharon Otterman, The New York times, May 10, 2012
Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse—Sharon Otterman and Ray Rivera, The New York Times, May 9, 2012
Orthodox Sex Abuse Scandal: 117 kid victims and 85 arrests in Jewish enclave—The New York Post, Dec. 11, 2011
Guiding Families Through the Fear—The New York Post, Dec. 11, 2011
The Uphill Battle to Expose Abusers—The Jewish Week, Nov. 22, 2011
Suffering In Silence—News 12, Aug. 31, 2010
WPIX investigates the reports of sexual abuse in the Ultra-Orthodox community—WPIX TV, March 11, 2010
Rabbinic Leaders Silent On Child Sexual Abuse—The Jewish Week, March 11, 2010
Lebovits Conviction—WPIX TV, Jan. 20, 2010
Orthodox Jews Rely More on Sex Abuse Prosecution—The New York Times, Oct. 13, 2009
Father Warns Other Parents—The Jewish Star, July 22, 2009
Abuse Scandal Plagues Hasidic Jews In Brooklyn—NPR, Feb. 2, 2009
Sex Abuse Allegations of Chassidim—WPIX TV, Dec. 2, 2008
On the Rabbi’s Knee—New York Magazine, May 14, 2006