Samuel (Shlomo Aharon שלמה אהרן) Kellner was arrested yesterday for attempting to extort money from Baruch Mordechai Lebovits in return for keeping him safe from charges of child molesting. For those new to this case, Lebovits was convicted on eight felony counts of child molesting last spring and sentenced to ten and 2/3 years to 32 years.
The witness was not Kellner’s relative nor a second witness but the third individual to come forward. In my opinion, the allegations by Kellner’s relative and by the witness at the trial were true. In addition there were many other cases I have heard about.
It is possible that a frustrated Kellner was also trying to extort money from Lebovits. I jut don’t know. I do know that there are many strange things about this new charge. The Kings County District Attorney, Charles Hynes, held a press conference about the arrest with a picture of Kellner on an easel. This is not his usual practice. Why? Many of us wonder why, given the legitimacy of the conviction, which the DA insisted on at the press conference, was he giving such a high-profile to the extortion case. Is he trying to help Lebovits look good? If so, why? Equally strange is the DA’s uncanny ability to find obstruction of justice among those who accuse molesters but his complete inability to ever charge anyone in the orthodox community of obstructing the prosecution of molesters. We know for a fact that there are many instances of this happening. The prosecutor for Ocean County, NJ, with the smaller orthodox Jewish population of Lakewood has managed to charge Shaul Luban with obstruction of justice for texting folks to harass the family of the witness against Yosef Kolko.
Some people are making too much of Kellner’s family connections. On the one hand he is the brother-in-law of Shimon Weiser, the fellow who got the VIN ban rolling, probably on the behest of David Niederman head of the Zaali affiliated United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg. On the other hand, Kellner’s brother is the son-in-law of Nuchem Rosenberg. As far as I can tell, neither relationship is critical to this story.
Meanwhile, Lebovits is reported to be out of prison on a quarter of a million dollars bail pending an appeal of his conviction. The appeal by Alan Dershowitz and Arthur Aidala is related to the extortion charge. We will see if it goes anywhere. I hope not because I am convinced of the fairness of his conviction which in turn was only a limited proxy for the many other teenagers he molested. If he gets out it will be the tragic result of a foolish, perhaps greedy overzealous man. At the same time I sympathize with the frustration of relatives of the abused who watch the sex criminals walking around with impunity while they suffer.
UPDATE 11:45- Why has the DA never touched any of the extortions of the Vaad Hatznius of Williamsburg I described in Who Will Watch the Watchers?