Brooklyn DA Defends Handling of Orthodox Sex Abuse Case

By Ilya Marritz (WNYC News)
June 29, 2012

Officials in the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes are defending their handling of an decades-old child sex abuse case in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

Hynes, who took office in 1990, said tried for years to extradite accused child molester Avrohom Mondrowitz from Israel after he fled in 1984. But attorney Michael Lesher said he found no evidence of this effort in the documents he obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

"If anything, his office simply reacted to outside stimulus and outside pressure, and was not taking the lead on this case at all," Lesher said.

Lesher represents some of Mondrowitz's accusers. His findings were first reported in the New York Times.

Hynes maintains he tried for years to get the State Department and Israeli officials to reach an agreement to allow Mondrowitz to be tried in the U.S.

Rhonnie Jaus, head of the DA's sex crimes and crimes against children division, said when a revised extradition treaty went into effect in 2007, she immediately began preparing to try Mondrowitz.

"We worked very closely with the Department of Justice to get our extradition papers in as expeditiously as possible and to request a provisional arrest of Mondrowitz in Israel in anticipation of the extradition," she said.

A judge in Israel ordered Mondrowitz returned to the U.S., but Israel's highest court reversed the decision, and Mondrowitz remains in the Jewish state.

"We were very disappointed with that and we made that known. But we stand committed to prosecuting Mondrowitz if he comes back to the United States. Our warrant is still viable," Jaus said.

Recently, Hynes has come under fire for his handling of sex abuse cases in the Orthodox Jewish community.