This guest post is an expanded version of a letter sent to the editor of the (NY) Daily News (which has not been published as of November 7, 2012). The author, Dorron Katzin of Chicago, has been active in child protection advocacy for a number of years. As part of the National Jewish Week for the Prevention of Child Abuse, Dorron, in collaboration with others, helped organize a program in Chicago, “Protecting Our Children From Abuse,” which took place on October 17, 2010. That program has a broad coalition of organizers and supporters including: JBAC, Rabbinical Council of America, Orthodox Union, Iggud Rabbonim, J-Safe, Chicago Rabbinical Council, Associated Talmud Torahs of Chicago, and NCSY. Speakers included: Rabbis Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Mark Dratch, Moshe Soloveichik, Drs. Vivian Skolknick and Asher Lipner, Attorneys Elliot Pasik and Patricia Sudendorf, and survivors Mark Weiss and Pinny Taub. Excellent videos and audios of that event are available online. I especially encourage my readers to view the videos of Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, Mark Weiss, and Pinny Taub.
I would also add on that some of the issues raised by Dorron about softball reporting on the DA by the Daily News were also raised by me in an earlier posting.
Why is the Daily News Repeating Disproven “Spin” by DA Hynes?
Guest Post by Dorron Katzin
The (NY) Daily News featured an article, Sex abuse accusations by teen stir uproar in Brooklyn Hasidic sect on October 29. The authors, Oren Yaniv with Simone Weichselbaum, wrote,
Before 2009, only a handful of sex abuse cases came out of the Orthodox community, which prefers to handle matters internally through its civilian police and rabbinical courts. Then, [Brooklyn District Attorney] Hynes established a program called Kol Tzedek specifically targeting the sex abuse problem in the Hasidic community, which has resulted in over 100 cases so far…
These figures, regularly proffered by the office of the DA were already challenged over five months ago in an article which appeared on May 11 in The New York Times, For Ultra-Orthodox in Abuse Cases, Prosecutor Has Different Rules by Ray Rivera and Sharon Otterman. They wrote,
In recent months, Mr. Hynes and his aides have said the program has contributed to an effective crackdown on child sexual abuse among ultra-Orthodox Jews, saying it had led to 95 arrests involving more than 120 victims. …. The number of sexual abuse cases involving children being prosecuted by Mr. Hynes’s office is up sharply. But an examination by the The New York Times shows that some of Mr. Hynes’s claims about the Kol Tzedek program appear to be inflated.
Through an extensive search of court and other public records, The Times determined the names of suspects and other details in 47 of the 95 cases attributed to the Kol Tzedek program. More than half of the 47 seemed to have little to do with the program, according to the court records and interviews.
Some did not involve ultra-Orthodox victims, which the program is specifically intended to help. More than one-third involved arrests before the program began, as early as 2007. Many came in through standard reporting channels, like calls to the police. While the 47 cases did include charges against camp counselors, yeshiva teachers and rabbis, they also included cases like that of a BoroughPark cafe owner who was convicted of molesting a female Hispanic immigrant who worked for him. At least three others were of ultra-Orthodox defendants who groped women on public transportation, including one BoroughPark resident accused of placing his penis on a woman’s shoulder. The woman immediately called the transit police.
Why didn’t Mr. Yaniv and Ms. Weichselbaum inquire into these discrepancies when they prepared the article? Why didn’t they mention any of the criticism by Mayor Bloomberg and former Mayor Koch of Mr. Hynes’ handling of child abuse in the ultra orthodox world?