By Shmarya Rosenberg (Failed Messiah blog)
January 14, 2013
Hella Winston has written an explosive exposé for the Jewish Week which you can read here.
Samuel Kellner, the man who allegedly extorted the family of Rabbi Baruch Lebovitz, the convicted child sexual abuser, appears to be innocent, a new expos´shows. He was, it appears, set up by a shadowy group of hasidim and hired con artists as Brooklyn's ethically challenged district attorney looked the other way. Once the setup was completed, Lebovitz's family used it to get Kellner arrested – and to possibly keep its long-time pedophile patriarch out of prison.
Winston's exposé shows how a key witness against Lebovitz was tricked into doing a video interview with 'former' hasidim (who according to what a friend tells me, plied him with drugs first). In that interview the witness says very clearly that Kellner always told him to tell truth, told him to testify, and that Kellner never offered him a bribe. The DA uses this tape as 'evidence' to prove Kellner's guilty – even though the charge is that Kellner bribed the witness not to testify against Lebovits in return for a payoff from the Lebovitz family.
The man who allegedly set up that video recording has a history of frauds and cons (and, apparently, drug use), and is known for such by police and by the hasidic community that he comes from.
Police and the DA's Jewish Liasison, Henna White, knew all along that Kellner was being offered bribes by hasidic community members to get a relative and others to drop charges against Lebovitz. Kellner told them, and the cops apparently back this up. But the DA did nothing to arrest or stop the hasidim for attempted witness tampering.
Then, after months of this attempted bribery, the DA ordered Kellner's arrest – not the arrest of the men who repeatedly tried to bribe him.
The Va'ad Hatznius – the Satmar modesty police hasidm denied existed during Rabbi Nechemya Weberman's trial – keeps a list of pedophiles and suspectd pedophiles and turned over the names of a few Lebovits' victims to Kellner because it had spent many fruitless years trying to get Lebovits to stop sexually abusing boys and was so frustrated, they decided to help Kellner's relative to take Lebovits' to secular court.
This is only a tiny part of this exposé which crawls though the underbelly of hasidic Brooklyn and the even lower and dirty underbelly of the Brooklyn DA's office.
The exposé is, I think, worthy of a significant journalism prize and hopefully will win one. Read all of it here.