The buzz in Williamsburg is that witnesses and victims of sex abuse worry about talking to the Brooklyn DA’s office because they believe their names will be leaked back to the offenders and then they will be harassed. They worry about this even if they do not intend to be witnesses at trials. In actual cases such as Weberman, such private informants could provide additional information that would facilitate the investigation and might help the DA find others who would agree to testify.
I agree with the DA that the religious enforcers of a misguided interpretation of mesirah (snitching) are worse than the Mafia. He is right that part of the problem is not of his making. But the DA’s reputation is a problem of his own creation.
DA Charles Hynes has not taken steps to function transparently.
- He still withholds a lot of important information about how he flubbed the Mondrowitz extradition.
- He has still not explained why he dropped the Bobov Hafner prosecution after a meeting with Rabbi Farkas, a meeting set up by cover up artist Sheldon Silver (reported in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 2008).
- He continues to refuse to release the names of convicted orthodox offenders.
- Most important, he does not have an impressive record of convictions. He has not convicted a single rabbi for obstructing reporting.
- His one arrest for obstruction of justice came right on the heels of a barrage of bad publicity in the New York Times and public criticism by Mayor Bloomberg and former Mayor Koch. So forgive me if I am skeptical about his motives. I can’t decide if this was a one-time PR move or the beginning of a new trend.
Mr. Hynes, you say that ultra orthodox obstructors of molesting are “worse than the Mafia.” Well, then it is your job to give this problem your best effort. If you cannot succeed in stepping up to the plate it is time for you to take off your uniform and hand it over to someone who has what it takes. The war against child sexual abuse cannot be waged and won by an office that does not have the confidence of potential witnesses.