By Susan Edelman (NY Post)
December 11, 2011
Andrew Goodman, 27, who worked for Jewish social-service agencies, is charged with sexually abusing two Orthodox boys for years in Flatbush — one from age 11 to 15, the other from age 13 to 16.
Goodman filmed sex acts with the youngsters on a Web cam, according to the 144-count indictment, which alleges numerous violations since 2006. He has pleaded not guilty.
The handsome Goodman, who held parties in his home with liquor and child porn, also "threatened the life" of a boy who reported him to authorities, court papers and sources say.
He's one of an astounding 85 accused Orthodox child molesters that Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes' office says it has busted in the past three years in an initiative called Kol Tzedek, Hebrew for "voice of justice."
The cases involve 117 victims — a number that has the community reeling from the extent of the horrors of pedophilia.
Launched amid complaints that Hynes was soft on Orthodox child predators, Kol Tzedek aims to coax victims to come forward, despite strong pressure in the insular religious community to cover up such crimes.
All but two of the suspects are men, and more than half the victims are male, said Assistant DA Rhonnie Jaus, chief of the sex abuse and crimes against children division.
Of the 38 cases closed so far, 14 perps got jail time, ranging from a month to 10-to-20 years for crimes that included sex abuse, attempted kidnapping, and sodomy, Jaus said.
The other 24 have walked free. They got probation, pleaded to minor charges, or saw their cases dismissed — often because victims or their parents backed out under community pressure.
Agudath Israel of America, a prominent body of Torah sages, requires anyone alleging sex abuse by a fellow observant Jew to first report to its rabbis, who decide whether the case should go to secular authorities.
Goodman's case, which Hynes' office hasn't publicized, shows how the community's response has started to change. Rather than keeping it among the Orthodox, some alleged victims turned to sympathetic religious leaders and outside authorities to help lock up a menace.
"Andrew Goodman is known in our community as a lifelong molester who preys on young boys and ruins their lives," a Talmudic scholar at Congregation Bais Torah wrote to Brooklyn Judge Martin Murphy, who is hearing the case.
Neighbors were shocked when Goodman, freed on $10,000 bail after his arrest in July 2010, still had boys sneaking into his 15th Street home, where he lives with his parents and sister, in the middle of the night.
Community members made a chilling surveillance videotape that officials said shows teens, ages 15 or 16, entering and leaving the house between 3 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.
Goodman is seen opening his front door for the boys — four on one August night and three on another.
In one image, two men, including an officer of Shomrim, a volunteer patrol, apparently argue with Goodman at the front steps. Goodman goes inside and ushers a boy out of his house.When told of the tape at Goodman's September 2010 arraignment, Judge Patricia DiMango raised Goodman's bail to an unusually steep $1 million, cash only. He remains at Rikers Island pending a Dec. 21 hearing.
Evidence seized in Goodman's room included lubricants, empty liquor bottles, boys' clothing with DNA samples, and a butcher knife.
Goodman's lawyer, Izzy Fried, indicated his client would fight the charges, telling DiMango, "These were not forceful — no one was held against their will."
The judge countered that "anyone with a child" would agree that an 11-year-old "is not capable of making these types of decisions."
Fried told The Post the alleged victims are "troubled kids who did not have a good home life." One boy ran away, and Goodman "gave him a safe haven," the lawyer said.
He called the accusation that Goodman threatened the boy "baloney."
Goodman, he confirmed, once turned to his young accuser in court and mouthed, "I love you."
In court papers obtained by The Post, the boy's pediatrician said the sustained sexual and emotional trauma had "robbed him of his youth."
The child suffers symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Once "vibrant and energetic," the doctor said, "that boy is no more." The abuse "destroyed him."
Goodman was adopted and grew up in a traditional Jewish family. His parents went to synagogue and had Friday-night Sabbath meals, sources said. Goodman attended yeshivas through high school and went to yeshivas in Israel, the last time in 2005.
He used to wear a yarmulke, a source said, but in recent years "stopped being religious."
Rabbi Shea Hecht, of the Hasidic Lubavitch group, said one of Goodman's alleged victims came to him and bared his anguish. Hecht, who helps Hynes' office with community relations, urged the boy to go to cops.
"You know I'm going to end up dead," Hecht said the terrified teen told him.
Hecht, on a Jewish radio show, accused Goodman of "hunting" for prey.
Goodman went to yeshiva playgrounds, once offering a reward for any boy who found his "lost glasses," Hecht said. Goodman also pressured boys to recruit others, the rabbi said.
He allegedly took one boy to Atlantic City for a weekend, a source said. He allegedly plied boys with liquor and pills and showed porn on his laptop.
Hecht said he contacted the parents of several boys in the surveillance video, but they refused to cooperate.
Goodman, a paralegal in a law office, worked weekends for OHEL, a prominent nonprofit that serves at-risk kids and disabled adults.
OHEL is one of several agencies affiliated with Hynes' Kol Tzedek program.
For 11 months, starting in June 2009, he took a minimum-wage job as a caregiver in a group home for physically and mentally disabled adults, 18 and up. His tasks included helping residents go to the bathroom, change clothes and shower, officials said.
OHEL fired Goodman days after his arrest, said spokesman Andrew Moesel. It hired a psychologist to interview residents and "determined that no OHEL client had in any way been harmed."
Goodman also worked in a group home for disabled adults run by the Women's League Community Residences, another Jewish charity.
Hynes spokesman Jerry Schmetterer said Goodman is not charged with abuse at the nonprofits.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes' Project Kol Tzedek, Hebrew for "voice of justice," aims to coax ultra-Orthodox Jews to report childhood sexual abuse despite community pressure to stay silent. After three years, the DA reports these results:
* 85 accused predators arrested since January 2009, two female
* 117 victims: 89 under age 17, the rest up to age 23, when the statute of limitations expires
* 47 cases pending; 38 closed
* 14 offenders sentenced to jail, from a month to 10-to-20 years
* 24 free—on probation, after pleading to lesser charges or after caseswere dismissed