Brooklyn Justice Vincent Del Giudice gives Sabo 20 years and says, 'It is a duty for all adults to protect our children' by cooperating with law enforcement
By Oren Yaniv (New York Daily News)
May 21, 2012
A Brooklyn judge urged members of the tightly guarded Orthodox Jewish community to report sex abuse as he sentenced a man who preyed on their children to 20 years to life in prison.
"There is a duty for all adults to protect our children," Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice said Monday. "And the only way they can be protected is if they cooperate with law enforcement."
The warning came at the sentencing of Michael Sabo, 38, who confessed to sexually abusing two young children. Sabo's case exemplified the difficulties prosecutors face in getting abuse victims in the close-knit Jewish community to come forward.
Sabo's crimes came to light after a rabbi was presented with an incriminating photo of a tied-up boy. It took two years to track down the boy's family, who then contacted prosecutors.
Sabo, a nurse and father of four from Marine Park, Brooklyn, pleaded guilty to abusing a 5-year-old boy for five years starting in 2001, and 6-year-old girl for at least three years.
The Brooklyn district attorney's office had evidence of seven additional victims. Prosecutor Kevin O'Donnell said some of their families refused to cooperate "because of the intimidation they thought they would endure as part of the Orthodox Jewish community."
Shortly before the trial was set to start, the father of Sabo's female victim was confronted at his synagogue and told congregants planned to fill every seat in the courtroom and stare down his daughter when she took the stand.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has recently come under fire for refusing to release names of Jewish abusers. In his defense, he has citing the community's insularity and fear of reprisal against victims.
At Sabo's sentencing, the father of the male victim read a letter that the boy, now 16, wrote.
"You're a miserable rotten piece of slime," the victim wrote. "I want to kill you over and over again. I hope you'll never see another (happy day) again."
"Why? Why did you hurt all these innocent children?" the father asked after reading the note. "They were young innocent children who did nothing. . . . You took away their trust in adults."
Sabo faced hundreds of years in prison on the abuse charges and on 120 counts of possessing child pornography.
The judge gave the "lenient" sentence because of the pressure victims and their families faced and to spare them from testifying.
Sabo agreed to the deal two weeks ago. His lawyer Jeffrey Schwartz claimed his client had been molested as a boy but never received any help.
"He languished, he suffered and, ultimately, he acted out as well," the lawyer said.
That didn't sway the victims' family. At the sentencing, the sister of the female victim called Sabo "a sociopath."
"You ruined her childhood and perhaps her whole life," she said. "You are a monster."
Del Giudice told the families he hopes seeing Sabo sent to prison will give them closure.
"There should be peace in your heart that this person will never ever be able to harm another child," he said.