By Mosi Secret (New York Times)
January 31, 2013
A rabbi from a prominent ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, was charged on Thursday with sexually abusing three teenage boys from a school he ran, in a case that is likely to shine yet another spotlight on a secretive community grappling with abuse allegations.
The rabbi and leader of the school, Yoel Malik, 33, is accused of taking two of the boys to a local hotel for sexual encounters and rubbing another boy’s penis through his pants while masturbating in a parked car.
The encounters, the police said, occurred from March of last year until early in January. The three boys ranged in age from 14 to 16, the police said, although prosecutors said they were 13 to 16. The police said no charges were filed concerning a fourth victim, who is currently in Israel. A prosecutor said at an arraignment hearing in Brooklyn Criminal Court that there was a video of Rabbi Malik entering a hotel with the fourth victim at 3 a.m. and leaving later in the morning.
The case began with an anonymous call to a rape hot line.
Rabbi Malik was arrested late Wednesday. The authorities and a Brooklyn prosecutor, Tziyonah Langsam, said Rabbi Malik had admitted to visiting the hotel and a car with the boys. The rabbi also told them, they said, that some of the boys made advances on him. Ms. Langsam also said Mr. Malik had made a statement indicating that he was a victim of abuse himself.
The Satmar Hasidim in Brooklyn have traditionally disciplined abusers themselves rather than reporting them to the authorities. Supporters of Rabbi Malik have claimed that the accusations were false and made only under the threat of extortion.
“Whoever knows this guy knows it doesn’t make sense for him to do this,” said Yoel Indig, 22, who said he had been a student of Rabbi Malik’s at the school, which several people in the community identified as Ohr Hameir Yeshiva in Borough Park. “He helped lot of people.”
“There was a guy that tried to take money from Mr. Malik,” Mr. Indig continued. “He tried to threaten him with an arrest: ‘If you are not going to give me $25,000, I will make a case and get you arrested.’ ”
Meanwhile, advocates for sexually abused children, who have argued that abuse is covered up and victims are themselves threatened in the community, said they had long suspected wrongdoing at the school.
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, who has pushed for victims to come forward, said he received a flurry of anonymous e-mails last week saying there was abuse involving students or former students at the school. Rabbi Rosenberg said he told those people to go to the authorities.
The police said the school closed last year after a financial dispute among its leaders.
Rabbi Malik was charged with 12 counts of sexual abuse, 4 counts of criminal sexual contact, 11 counts of endangering the welfare of a child and a single count of forcible touching. He was arraigned Thursday night and released on $75,000 bond. His next scheduled court date is Feb. 19.
The case comes less than two weeks after Nechemya Weberman, an unlicensed therapist and respected member of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, was sentenced to 103 years for repeatedly sexually abusing a young woman, beginning when she was 12.
That case heightened tensions in the Satmar community; many people there still believe Mr. Weberman is innocent.
Rabbi Malik’s case is, as Mr. Weberman’s was, a test for the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, who has been criticized for failing to investigate and prosecute sexual abuse claims from the ultra-Orthodox community. Mr. Hynes has vowed in recent months to crack down on the intimidation of sexual abuse victims. The move comes amid his re-election campaign, which promises to be hotly contested.