Jewish Week, Letters to the Editor: Sol Wachtler Responds

The Jewish Week
November 12, 2014

I refer to last week’s article written by Hella Winston relating to emails exchanged between me and the former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes (“Wachtler-Hynes Emails Had It Wrong On Kellner”). Her story concerned the Kellner case then pending in DA Hynes’ office. Although I thought my communication concerning The Jewish Week story of Jan. 13, 2013 was a private one, I have no problem with it having been made public.

Ms. Winston’s 2013 story was the first time the Kellner case was called to my attention. As I said then, and still recall, her explanation of the case was to me, incomprehensible. I thought it was extraordinarily long and, although her conclusion that Mr. Kellner’s having been wrongfully accused was apparent and proven to be correct, as Ms. Winston herself concedes: “The story was indeed byzantine, with a plot even a sharp legal mind like Wachtler’s could not be expected to wrap itself around easily.”

The emails referred to were written by me in May of 2013, one and a half years ago. My criticism had nothing to do with the indictment: it had everything to do with my personal opinion of Ms. Winston’s story concerning the case. At the time, Mr. Kellner stood indicted on a charge of sexual abuse. [Kellner was never indicted on charges of sexual abuse; he was charged with bribery and extortion.] It wasn’t until March of this year that a Brooklyn assistant district attorney told the court that the testimony of “the two main witnesses” against Mr. Kellner was beyond belief and, after almost three years, the case against Mr. Kellner was dismissed. Your headline accusing me of having “it wrong on Kellner” was inaccurate. I said nothing about Kellner’s guilt or innocence, my sole criticism was The Jewish Week’s story about the case — mainly because I didn’t understand it. That, of course, could have been my fault.

Note: The “Wrong On Kellner” headline had to do with Wachtler’s contention that only chasids “would follow the story.” In fact, the Kellner case became an issue in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s race and was covered widely in the mainstream press.