What Sort of a Sentence for Lebovits?
**NOTE- Since this was posted the sentencing date was moved to Monday April 12
Rabbi Baruch Mordechai Lebovits has been convicted. Justice Di Patricia M. Di Mango will set his sentence on Monday, April 12. Judges have discretion in setting a sentence. You can be sure Lebovits’ supporters will churn out all sorts of letters attesting to his fine character, kindness and charity. Reading them you will be surprised that this man has not been declared a saint.
In October 2009, right after Yom Kippur, another molester, Yona Weinberg, was up for sentencing. Like Lebovits he gambled on a trial. He was probably hoping that the ordeal of testifying would discourage or overwhelm his witnesses. His gamble failed and he was convicted
This is Hella Winston‘s account of the sentencing in the Jewish Week.
Judge Gustin Reichbach said he found it “troubling” that the community “seeks to blame, indeed punish victims.”…Making his comments before a courtroom packed with supporters of the 31-year-old Weinberg – among them, school principals, two rabbis and civic leaders – the judge spoke of receiving more than 90 letters attesting to Weinberg’s character and innocence. None of the letters, the judge noted, “displays any concern or any sympathy or even any acknowledgment for these young victims which, frankly, I find shameful.” Judge Reichbach referred to a letter expressing sadness “that Weinberg’s love of humankind has turned against him,” as “the height of chutzpah.”
Let the world know that we care about our children, that we care enough to suffer the embarrassment of exposing a molester in our midst in order to protect our children. Everyone is busy getting ready for Passover. Don’t just settle for cleaning out your household chometz while molesters roam about. Find the time to write a letter to Justice Di Mango.
I feel sorry for Lebovits’ family. I even feel sorry for Lebovits; prison is a harsh place. However, we cannot extend kindness to the Lebovits family at the expense of the victims. They suffer as well: some of them in silence, others by losing their way or even their life. Every night in Brooklyn a man wakes up from a nightmare. Every day a boy struggles with fear. Every day a marriage is strained because intimacy is difficult. On some days victims contemplate suicide. Some days they commit suicide. Mercy for Lebovits cannot be purchased at the expense of his victims. His blood is not redder than the blood of his victims.
Somebody will tell you that he has done tshuvah (repented). It is hard to know for sure who did tshuvah. But the minimum requirement is admitting your acts, demonstrating regret, begging your victims for forgiveness, and doing your best to repair the damage. A molester who does tshuvah pleads guilty; he doesn’t call his accuser a liar, a con artist and a bum. Anyone who claims Lebovits did tshuvah is either an am haaretz, a shakran, or a shoteh (an ignoramus, a liar or a fool). They certainly should not be accepted as a shofet or a dayan (a judge). They are contemptible misleaders not even fit to be janitors in a courthouse in Sodom.
Get your letter into Judge Di Mango by Tuesday, April 7. Let her hear the voices of menschlichkeit (decency) in our community. Write from your heart. Write about your experiences. Tell her about yourself and let her know how decent Jews feel about the impact of this crime on the community. Make it personal. Words that come from your heart will reach her heart. When you sit down to your Passover seder, do it with the knowledge that you helped make it a leyl shmurim (a night of safety) for all children.
This week almost 7,000 readers came to Frum Follies, almost all to find out about Lebovits. Almost all of you are disturbed by his conduct and the problem of molesting. Now is the time to do something. Write to:The Honorable Patrica M. Di Mango Supreme Court, Kings County
320 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201 Dear Justice Di Mango, Re: Sentencing of Baruch Lebovits
(be sure to include the date, your full name, address, and a hand written signature)
You can also support Lebovits’ victims by being in the courtroom during sentencing. Show up Monday, April 12 by 9:30 a.m. to be sure you get seated. Judge Di Mango will be sentencing in Part 85, Room 28, 15th Floor, Kings County Supreme Court, 320 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201. (When you reach the courthouse, double check the room assignment; depending on the number of supporters they may move sentencing to a larger room).
You can be sure that Lebovits’ supporters will be out in force. The media will be covering the event. Let’s make sure that every victim of molesting in the community finds out that we are on their side. This can help them heal. Let’s make sure that every molester and enabler of molesters learns that the cover-ups are doomed. This will help them see that the best way to avoid scandal is to nip the problem in the bud. Passover is zman cheiruteinu (the season of freedom/redemption). Lets’ make it such a season for our community.
**NOTE- Since this was posted the sentencing date was moved to Monday April 12, and all the dates in the article have been corrected accordingly.