By Andrea Peyser (New York Post)
January 14, 2013
He JUST wants justice for his son.
It may never come.
In the 2 1/2 years since Mordechai Jungreis’ boy revealed the awful truth — the mentally disabled teen was allegedly molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse — Jungreis (pictured) has turned from a respected member of the Hasidic community into a leper. A nobody.
Jungreis, his wife and four children were kicked out of their apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and forced to move to the community’s outskirts. They found a new synagogue that would accept them.
His son, “badly damaged” by the alleged abuse, was targeted a second time, he said, expelled from two yeshivas. Summer camp, too.
People on the street crossed to the other side when Jungreis walked by. Words of abuse were hurled anonymously into the telephone. Or on the street.
As a Jew, I’m horrified that, in 2013, Jungreis, 38, could be punished, vilified and treated worse than a criminal. All for publicly accusing a fellow Jew of a heinous crime?
Finally, tomorrow, Meir Dascalowitz, 29, the man charged in 2010 with molesting the teen, is scheduled for a pretrial hearing in a crime that, Jungreis says, he discovered after finding blood on his boy’s underwear. Jungreis hopes this exercise in jurisprudence will put his nightmare to rest.
He expects nothing.
“I went through hell,” Jungreis, who once considered himself a member of the Bobov ultra-Orthodox community, told me.
“We used to pray in the park, because I wasn’t allowed in the synagogue. My son is not in school.’’
And now, Dascalowitz has the full support of Jungreis’ neighbors.
“Everyone is running away from my child,’’ said Jungreis, whose son is afflicted with learning disabilities and a low IQ. The boy, now 17, is tested regularly for HIV.
“What about my child? This is a disabled child. And they’re screaming at me in the street!”
The ugly cloak of secrecy that has long ruled the Jews of Williamsburg was ripped to shreds last month. A Brooklyn jury convicted Satmar Nechemya Weberman of 59 counts for sexually abusing a now-18-year-old woman from the time she was 12.
The parallels with Jungreis’ case are inescapable. Weberman’s victim contends she was maimed again by her fellow Jews after she came forward. As Weberman, 54, prepares to be sentenced next week, one question remains:
Have things changed?
“On the one hand, advocates and victims feel empowered” by Weberman’s conviction, said Ben Hirsch, spokesman for Survivors for Justice, which supports sex-abuse victims.
But “the courageous victim in the Weberman case has been publicly vilified by the grand rabbi of Satmar, and thousands of Hasidim have publicly supported Weberman.” Hirsch accused Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes of lacking the guts to fight Jewish leaders who intimidate victims.
Hynes’ spokesman Jerry Schmetterer insists that the DA gives no special treatment — having arrested more than 100 Hasidim for sexual crimes since 2009.
Dascalowitz, who was married with a son, was locked in a mental hospital in 2011 to determine if he’s competent to stand trial.
“He’s playing games,” Jungreis insists. Since Dascalowitz was released from the hospital last year, he’s been held in lieu of $150,000 bond, charged with 10 felony counts of criminal sexual act, plus 10 misdemeanor counts apiece of sexual misconduct and sexual abuse, and one of endangering the welfare of a child.
“I’m not going to discuss the innocence or the guilt. I wasn’t there,” said his lawyer, Israel Fried. He complained that it’s gotten hard to defend Orthodox Jews.
“It’s becoming more difficult because of the publicity attached to the case and the pressure the community is placing on both the DA’s Office and on the courts.”
Cry me a river.
Meanwhile, a disabled teenager sits at home, hoping for justice.
In his community, it remains elusive.