I Was Accused; It Could Happen To You
By Doniel G. (ChabadInfo.com)
April 11, 2013
Imagine if you were falsely accused… of being a child molester.
Scary and chilling, isn’t it? Something you think could never happen to you.
Only a real child molester, someone who actually abuses a child, can be nailed for it. It’s inconceivable that a totally innocent person, who never touched a child in his life could be falsely accused. Right?
That’s what I used to think. Until my life plummeted into an utter and complete nightmare, a nightmare that dragged out half a year, and could have been much longer, if Hashem hadn’t intervened.
My name is Daniel. And I am going to give you the synopsis of what happened to me.
But I want to start out with the horrifying fact of how the entire community, save for my family and my closest friends, turned against me in the blink of an eye.
In a fleeting moment, in people’s eyes I was no longer a Jew, let alone a human being — I was regarded as a monster, an out-of-control filthy, dangerous beast capable of snatching little children and abusing them…. All for an accusation, made by one individual, of a crime I did not do.
You cannot know what it’s like unless it chas v’shalom happened to you.
Look, I understand how it is. I understand there are evil people out there, child molesters, who need to be caught and punished. I understand the pain of the victim of a child molester; I know victims of molestation, I even have relatives who are survivors. I understand how crucially important it is to catch them and punish them — to the full extent of the law. I understand that most of them deny it, saying they didn’t do it.
But what are you supposed to do when you’ve been falsely accused — you’ve never committed such an act in your life — because of motzei shem rah, heinous slander that spreads like rapid fire across an entire community, based on the word of one person? Confess to a crime you did not commit?
This is just an article… but my story is long enough that it could fill a book. And my story isn’t really over. Hashem rescued me from this evil false accusation… and now I need to reclaim my good name….
I was brought up to believe — and of course I still do — that doing acts of kindness for people is of vital importance; and also one of the important things stressed by the Rebbe that needs to be done in this generation, in order to bring the Geulah.
What I never thought was that doing acts of kindness could be used completely against me.
I used to work in education, with children and teens with special needs. I had two students, of whom I became friends with the family. They were a lower socioeconomical family, and the parents were rather burdened, most of their children having various degrees of autism. I did a lot of things to help them out, even volunteering my own time to work with the two boys, both of whom had a minor degree of autism. At the time that I first started teaching them, it was in a special ed school that was below their learning level. I helped both of them to transfer to better schools. The older boy, of whom I taught the most, I arranged for him a bar-mitzvah, and even helped out with getting him tefillin.
I was close with the family for around four years, and helped them in many different ways. But, a burden I had in doing so was the fact that the mother came to develop a sort of psychological dependence on me. She liked to call me up on the phone, and tell me about all her problems. I would do my best to help her out, giving her advice and empathy. Well, mostly empathy; generally advice was not something she really needed. She just needed a listening ear.
Towards the last summer, I became very busy with an assortment of different projects. Among them was finally bringing to fruition a lifelong ambition I had to start my own series of adventure novels for frum kids. At this point I was no longer working with either of the two boys. Around this time they were fifteen and thirteen.
But the calls from the mother continued to persist. I was coming to feel between a rock and a hard spot; I had helped the family in so many different ways… and after four years of taking long times out to speak on the phone with the mother and give her a listening ear, I was starting to feel burned out. I gave her hints here and there that I no longer had the time for such long conversations, but she persisted… maybe there was no one else who would listen to her. As a matter of fact, there was no one else.
It was one day that I took the plunge… and I told her, bluntly and honestly, that I was overburdened with my schedule lately; I would no longer have time for these conversations. But I had texting, and so did she — and texting, I could manage. If she wanted to text back and forth, I could still do that.
She totally freaked.
From that day on, we were bitter enemies. It was as if everything I had ever done for her and her family meant nothing anymore. As a matter of fact, that was the case.
I started to hear rumors that she was spreading false slander about me; telling people about how all her problems were my fault, her kids were misbehaving and it was all my fault, etc. etc.
I started to get fed up, and sent the mother an angry text to cut it out with this malicious slander, accusing her of being a kufoi tov, who has no appreciation for the good things people do for her. I told her that anyone could see that her family wasn’t functioning properly; just like she was slandering me, I could also slander her, I told her; child welfare would be very interested in her family.
Okay, that was a big mistake on my part. But I never really meant to do that; I was just so ticked off that I needed something to tell her to get her to shut up and stop it with the slander.
A month later, I was suddenly fired from my job; I was told that I had been accused of being a child molester — and police were contacted.
I cannot describe the feeling of horror of that moment. You know the expression, “chills going down your spine?” Perhaps this is the first time I actually felt that.
How could I be accused of being a child molester? I had never touched a child in my life!
I did some investigation, and found out, to my utter shock, that my best student — the older brother, who I had helped and taught the most, had made this accusation against me.
Doing further investigation, I found out that a detective of the special victims unit was “working” on this case. I tried desperately over the next few days to reach the detective and tell her the real story. But I wasn’t able to get through to her.
Then, finally, two detectives arrived at my house. They were very friendly, and asked me to just come to the precinct with them, and they would ask me a few questions. I was so relieved; finally I could tell them the real story.
They took me to the precinct, and I was brought into a room to be interviewed. I immediately waived my right to remain silent. Why should I remain silent? I was innocent. I hadn’t done anything. I was just going to tell the truth.
I told the detective the story at length, how this was was a false accusation, and it must have had something to do with the mother hating me. When I was finished, so was she. She told me that she was disappointed; she was hoping to hear some sort of confession from me. I told her there was nothing for me to confess; I didn’t do anything. She told me that she has no choice but to have me appear before a judge — but not to worry, she told me; all that would happen would be that the judge would issue an order of restraint — that I shouldn’t have any contact with the family.
I was put in handcuffs and taken to another precinct, and was taken through the whole nine yards: Fingerprinting, mug shot, etc.
Never, ever, ever had I imagined in my life that this kind of thing would ever happen to me.
I ended up spending about forty-eight hours locked up, with no kosher food. So I only drank water. I had to sleep on the floor. When I was finally brought before the judge, the long list of charges against me was read. They were quite graphic; that’s all I’m going to say. Where in the world did the boy even know about this stuff from? I was sentenced to Ryker’s Island with bail set at twenty thousand dollars.
This was over labor day weekend. My parents came and bailed me out. But now I had a court case looming before me.
At this point in time, I was on a shidduch with a really nice girl, and it was coming along really good. But when I told her what happened to me, I was dropped like a hot potato.
I tried to console myself with the fact that even though this false accusation was a bitter and miserable thing to have to go through, at least the whole world didn’t have to know about it, right?
I received a visit at my house from the guy who runs Crown Heights Watch. Until then I had actually approved of his website; it never occurred to me that they put up names and pictures of people who haven’t been proven guilty. I never imagined they would put me on — I hadn’t been proven guilty!
Using foul language, he demanded of me to confess that I had committed the crime — if I would confess, he said, he would “get me help.” If not, I would be posted on his website. I told him that if he already thought I was guilty, then we had nothing more to discuss. He was most indignant.
Soon afterwards, there I was, up on Crown Heights Watch. This was the night before Rosh Hashanah. Would people in the community believe it?
Well, as I subsequently found out, the whole community found out about it instantly.
I don’t think I need to go on about how I was shamed and humiliated publicly after this, including getting thrown out of the shul where I davened on Shabbos for the past three years.
I was in college at this time, going for a degree in psychology, but I had to drop out. I had no way to pay for college now, without a job. I ended up moving out of of the state, to where my parents live.
I had many meetings with my lawyer, who told me about the long, difficult journey I had ahead of me to prove my innocence.
Many people who I thought were my friends, they dropped me. But my true friends remained true friends.
I had a long time to reflect on the awful truth about our justice system. To accuse someone of this kind of crime, you need no evidence, no proof. Anyone under twenty-one can go and make an allegation, and just by his word, you can be arrested, and your life destroyed.
You would think that this heinous accusation against me would be enough — but the family chose not to stop there. I had to keep schlepping back to Brooklyn for various court cases — where I was being falsely accused of trying to make contact with the family.
I wondered when I would ever get out of this. When would Hashem save me from this? And how?
And then, it happened: It was about two months ago, that the boy met up with an assistant DA, to make more claims about me that I was trying to contact him. The boy was asked how was I trying to contact him. Did he have a phone? He told the ADA that I was calling his mother’s phone. So how was he getting the calls? I was leaving messages, he said. And his mother hadn’t heard them? He had his own special password….
Finally, he broke down, and confessed to the ADA that he had made up the entire story. I had never done any of this stuff to him.
As it turned down, the boy had been molested — but not by me. And he himself was caught in the act of molesting young boys. He was sent to see a psychologist. Being in a tight spot, and having been hearing from his mother her constant hateful ranting and raving about me, he told the psychologist that he had been molested — by me. The psychologist then went on to ask him a lot of leading questions, and the boy rambled on about all the “details” of the molestation. He was brought in to the police precinct to be interviewed by the detective, too. The psychologist, however, found holes in the story; she did not deem the boy’s allegations as reliable, and wrote that down in her report. I guess the detective chose to ignore that.
It took another two months for my case to be officially dismissed. There were delays. It wasn’t among Charles Hynes, the DA of Brooklyn’s top priorities to let go so quickly of a case like this of an Orthodox Jew accused of a crime of this nature. But since I was innocent, they had to dismiss it, needless to say.
On erev Pesach, my case was dismissed. The court ruled that the slanderous website had to remove the posts about me, and they did.
On the Holiday of Freedom, I was finally free, after half a year of going through the inferno.
Still, however… my reputation, my good name, is completely shot. In the last week, I’ve found out that people who thought I was guilty before still think I’m guilty. They’re not willing to let go of the slander they’ve heard about me.
The court ruled for Crown Heights Watch to put up an apology post. But their “apology” left a lot to be desired. They even started out reporting that I was arrested, just that my case was dismissed afterwards.
Motzei shem rah…. It’s like how a fire gets started. All it takes is one small spark of fire to start a blazing fire, that can burn down an entire forest.
I never, ever committed a crime like this against a child in my life, let alone dreamed of it. Because of the negligence and bias of the people who work in this system, who ask leading questions to children with special needs and practically put words in their mouths, this whole catastrophe happened to me.
But of course, it didn’t really start there. It all started because of sinas chinam, because of suspecting innocent people of things they didn’t do with absolutely no basis to believe it. Because of evil slander and motzei shem rah.
I don’t think I’m every working at chinuch again.
What is the difference between me, and other educators… teachers, counselors, who are trusted to work with children, their reputations unharmed and untainted? It’s like the difference between a healthy person, and a burn victim, who is forever scarred. The difference between them is that he was set on fire, and he wasn’t.
But why was I set on fire? Was I wrong to go out of my way to help children and families? In the end, it was all used against me, to accuse me of a crime I did not commit.
I should be happy and joyous right now, that Hashem made for me a huge miracle, and I really am trying to be; I was proven completely innocent — my case did not even have to go to trial.
But I forever fear motzei shem rah, and its devastating consequences. It’s a horrible plague, and epidemic, a witch hunt.
People have told me all kinds of things to justify this:
“Well, it’s to keep children safe.”
“Better that nine innocent people should be locked up, than one child molester walk free.”
Believe me, motzei shem rah is not l’shem shomayim. I assure you, accusing an innocent person of a crime he did not commit does not keep children safe.
And if you have any doubts in your mind, ask yourself, what if you, or someone close to you got falsely accused? What if one of your own children got falsely accused?
You might think that could never happen. I sure never thought such a thing could happen to me.
But it did.
It happened to me, and chas v’shalom it could happen to you.
The most horrible thing in the world, is standing before someone who accuses you of doing something you didn’t do, and no matter how much you tell him you’re innocent, he doesn’t believe you. It’s a horrible, searing pain that burns through and through. These people have no pure intentions. They just want to feel powerful, and destroy others.
It’s always been that way, throughout history — evil people gaining power through slick propaganda, claiming to be for a noble cause, claiming that the destruction of innocent lives is for the greater good.
And now, it’s happening among us frum Jews.