One of the most amazing revelations at yesterdays hearing and sentencing of Yosef Kolko was how much Rabbi Yisroel Belsky was his Svengali, calling every shot. According to testimony by his previous attorney, at every stage, Yosef Kolko consulted with Belsky and took his advice.
On the Monday that Kolko pleaded guilty, he came into court to be confronted with the fact that the prosecution had two more witnesses that he had sexually abused them. During the two hours between his grasping the bad news and agreeing to plead guilty he was on the phone with Belsky at least 15-20 times. It is bizarre that Belsky insists on Kolko’s innocence and yet advised him to plead guilty.
The RCA (Rabbinical Council of America) whacked Belsky on his knuckles today for leading the campaign to intimidate the victim out of testifying against Kolko. They issued a statement today:
RCA Lauds Courage of Abuse Victim
Oct 18, 2013 — The RCA expresses its pride and respect for the courage of the now 16-year-old victim of Yosef Kolko, the confessed perpetrator of sexual abuse who was sentenced yesterday to almost thirteen years imprisonment. The victim’s reporting of the abuse to the civil authorities, despite organized and overwhelming pressures and ostracism, sets an important example for the entire community. He raised the level of understanding of the impact of abuse when he said in court, “My message to those monsters out there who are abusing: You will be exposed, you will be put behind bars, and you will go through hell on earth. Molesting may seem harmless to you, but the reality is that it kills people with every touch.”
Rabbi Leonard Matanky, President of the RCA, reiterated the longstanding policy of the organization by reminding its members, “There is an unequivocal halakhic and moral obligation for everyone, victim and community member alike, to report all reasonable suspicions of child abuse to the civil authorities. These are cases of piku’ach nefesh, the protection of the physical safety and the spiritual integrity of our community.” Rabbi Shalom Baum, First Vice President of the RCA, stated, “The moral and religious integrity of our community is shattered when communal leaders discourage and prevent others from responding to the cries of the victims of abuse.”
Belsky is not named in the statement, but everyone in the know appreciates that the RCA is condemning him.
I had hoped to have more time to write about yesterdays court developments, but time has been scarce today. I just want to clarify some confusion. Kolko was sentenced to 15 years on the first charge and to shorter sentences for the other six charges. But since the sentences are all concurrent, it was a 15 year sentence. But as the judge explained, since he will be on probation before the 15 years are over, his time in jail will be 12 years, 9 months, and 7 days.
One last note before I sign off. The judge was so furious at the defense for various improper delay tactics that he insisted on avoiding any further delays. He made it clear he would complete the hearing that day on the defense motion to withdraw the guilty plea. He also insisted that if he denied the motion he would sentence Kolko during the same session. The session started at 1:30 p.m. and continued for 10 hours with virtually no breaks till sentencing was completed at 11:30. The courthouse employees who escorted out observers and closed the building said that they had never seen this before in thirty years.