Advocates for Jewish victims of child sex abuse cancel meeting with Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes

By Reuven Blau (NY Daily News)
September 5, 2012

Advocates for Jewish victims of childhood sexual abuse cancelled a meeting with Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, charging he has ignored their push for reforms.

Several leading Jewish advocates are angry Hynes still refuses to list names of the alleged molesters in the Jewish community, reach out to educate yeshivas, or take action against rabbis and other community officials who harass and intimidate victims.

“This is the same game. Since he has to appease the rabbis in Brooklyn he should send all the Jewish cases to Staten Island,” fumed Mark Meyer Appel, founder of Voice of Justice, a child advocacy group, referring to Hynes’ decision to defer the Vito Lopez investigation due to political ties.

Hynes chief spokesman said the meeting had merely been postponed due to scheduling conflicts. “It's an ongoing process,” Jerry Schmetterer said. “We are all happy on this end to continue.”

Still, Appel and fellow activist Asher Lipner have decided against a future powwow, barring any drastic policy changes. “There's no point in going,” Appel said.

Hynes has repeatedly refused to list the names of Jewish sex crime offenders, arguing it would lead to the underage victims being outed in the tight knit Orthodox community.

“My policy is succeeding. Anyone who expresses outrage is not being practical,” Hynes said during a panel discussion in June.

Victim advocates counter that past cases have shown the kids’ names are known in the community regardless, while their molesters and the details of the charges often stay secret. The DA releases the names in all other communities.

On June 9, Hynes met with the advocates and vowed to schedule similar gatherings each month.

Joel Engelman, 26, who is leading the group, acknowledged several activists were upset by the lack of concrete changes, but said he wasn't giving up. “We intend to continue these meetings,” he said. No new date has been set.

One activist suggested the gatherings with the DA include top Hasidic rabbis who have frequently defended alleged molesters while vilifying victims by kicking them out of their religious schools and ostracizing their families from neighborhood synagogues.

Hynes balked at that suggestion.

In May, Hynes created a task force to fight witness intimidation, a problem he says has plagued Jewish sexual abuse victims for years.