Thompson Is Losing Cred with Anti-Child-Abuse Advocates in the Orthodox Community

By Yerachmiel Lopin (Frum Follies blog)
May 21, 2014

The Jewish Week just published Hella Winston’s A Mockery of Justice. It is a must-read!  The story reports on a canvass of anti-abuse activists and all of those quoted were concerned about the the track record of the Brooklyn DA’s handling of sex abuse related crimes in the orthodox Jewish community.

I share those concerns. I am troubled by the way the Lebovits and other recent cases have been handled.

When he took office, Thompson promised he would take a “fresh look” at both the Lebovits and Kellner cases but kept the same prosecutor (ADA Miss Gregory) on the Lebovits case and he never took any disciplinary action against ADAs Joe Alexis and Nicholas Batsides who mishandled the trumped-up Kellner case. To the best of my knowledge he has not taken any steps to prosecute the many actors involved in subverting the prosecution of one of the most notorious sex criminals in the orthodox community. All this in spite of the fact that he asked for this case from outgoing DA Charles Hynes. He raised our expectations and then dashed them. He left the community with the message: if you are rich enough, and connected enough, you and your agents can subvert justice and get away with it.

I am bothered by a lack of transparency in Thompson’s office and an overly technical and procedural approach. I have no sense that Thompson either understands the nature of sex abuse and other criminality in the Orthodox community, or that he is committed to understanding it and combating witness intimidation and corruption.

Thompson has replaced Hynes’ fawning corruption with indifferent proceduralism at the expense of substance and justice. He is a DA unwilling to do the hard work of understanding the community he’s charged with protecting and unwilling to respond to the well-founded anxieties and fears of victims and survivors.

The activist community is reeling but also retooling. We had hoped for a collaborative relationship with Mr. Thompson and I am still open to it if the Office wants to go down that path. But, if not, we will adapt and come up with new tactics. We have fought too hard and too long to simply roll over in the face of indifference. Hynes came to office in a different era, one in which it was easy for him to ignore orthodox sex abuse. Thompson will not be able to coast for 24 years. The reckoning will come much, much sooner.