June 10, 2012
Concerned members of the Crown Heights community gathered today in the basement of 580 Crown St. for a seminar on combating child abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community.
Tzvi Gluck, an advocate for abuse victims, moderated the event. He presides over "Our Place," an organization that provides council and legal recourse to victims of abuse in the Jewish community.
The district Attorney of Kings county (Brooklyn) Charles Hynes addressed those gathered by reiterating his commitment to prosecuting both the perpetrators of child abuse, as well as those who enable them by intimidating witnesses from coming forward.
"I have never seen such levels of witness intimidation since the hayday of the Mafia," said the veteran prosecutor, who has been serving in his current position since 1991.
One of the attendees berated Mr. Hynes over his refusal to release the names of those accused of having committed Abuse. Mr. Hynes reiterated his position that the names be kept confidential in order to protect the victims.
Rabbi Yosef Blau, senior mashgiach ruchni of Yeshiva University, made the case that one is required - from a Halachic standpoint - to inform authorities of child abuse. He brought proof after proof that there is absolutely so basis in Halacha for accusations of "Mesira" against one who does so.
One of the most moving moments of the seminar occurred when a victim of abuse in one of the Mosdos in our Community, Mordechai Feinstein, spoke about what he went through, and the daily challenges he has to overcome as a result of it. He has since become a vocal advocate for abuse victims.
The gathering was addressed as well by Eli Federman, a Crown Heights activist, and Irwin Zalkin and Norman Siegel, two attorneys who were - and are - instrumental in prosecuting abusers, both in the Jewish, as well as Catholic communities.
The event was covered by several news outlets, including: NBC's Channel 4 News, ABC's Channel 7 Eyewitness News, NY1 and WNYC.
Click here to view photos from the event.