According to this morning’s Asbury Park Press, switch-hitter Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, urged Yosef Kolko to plead guilty over the weekend before his trial resumed. Other rabbis also encouraged him to plead guilty by showing him YouTube videos of how child molesters get treated in jail. The article does not name the other rabbis. It would be interesting to know if it any of them were among those that publicly proclaimed his innocence. The strange thing is that Belsky is now supporting withdrawing the plea.
The main facts to keep in mind as I discussed at length in an earlier post, is that the trial was already going terribly for Kolko before that weekend. After that weekend prominent rabbis in the community were expected to testify that they heard Kolko confess to the alleged child sex abuse. When he showed up to continue the trial on Monday he learned that the prosecution now had two more of his victims who were willing to testify. There were back and forth consultations between the prosecutor, the defense, and the judge all morning. Close to noon, the courtroom was finally opened and Kolko pleaded guilty to all charges, which could have brought a sentence of 40 years in prison. Instead he got a deal of 5-15 years.
This attempt to withdraw the plea will probably fail. Judge Hodgkins will rule on the motion to withdraw the plea today, and he scheduled sentencing today in anticipation of the possibility that the motion would be rejected.
At this point, Belsky has been all over the map. He publicly proclaimed Kolko’s innocence and agitated hostility to the father of the victim by claiming that the father himself was the one who molested the son. Then he encouraged Kolko to plead guilty. Then he publicly declared Yosef Kolko is innocent. Now he is supporting Yosef Kolko in trying to withdraw his plea. Belsky must realize that if Kolko is given another trial he may end up with a forty-year sentence.
Belsky will no doubt, have explanations. He is known to be able to switch sides on cases in which he is involved as a toen (rabbinic court representative for one of the parties).
Belsky may be too busy this week to properly attend to the Kolko case because he is ensnared in the kidnapping and torture conspiracy charges directed at his close colleague, Rabbi Mendel Epstein (aka, the ProdFather). Belsky regularly partnered with Epstein on divorce cases. I am quite certain he will be answering questions from the FBI or the Justice Department if he hasn’t already done that. I suspect he will eventually be indicted in that case.
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