Kolko’s Decisions Were Driven by Belsky, Belsky, and Belsky

Rabbi (sic) Yosef Kolko

Rabbi (sic) Yosef Kolko

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:

Rabbi Yisroel Belsky

Rabbi Yisroel Belsky

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.

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7 thoughts on “Kolko’s Decisions Were Driven by Belsky, Belsky, and Belsky

  1. This judge has demonstrated that he’s a mench and a humanitarian with the conviction to stand up to the lies and misrepresentations made by those who seek to protect predators. The chillul hashem caused by Kolko’s supporters is truly shameful. Any individual associated with supporting Kolko should A) hang their heads in perpetual shame; B) seek out mechilah for their despicable actions; and C) publicly proclaim their future support for all victims.

    Any decent human being walks away from the circus of yesterday questioning how these people can call themselves frum/moral/ethical/followers of G-d. In shomayim, the question wont be “yid, vu iz dien bord?”, rather it will be “bord vu is dien yid?” Its more important to be a mench than look like a mench. Shame on those Lakewood members that proclaim piousness, yet ultimately harm children, society and protect predators.

  2. kudos to the young victim of kolko and to his family for the courage they showed

    belsky epstein twerski wolmark should all be sued by the jewish community for abuse of the rabbinate

    can someone who is a lawyer perhaps figure a way to get them for coverup of abuser and manupulating the federal system

  3. Thank you, YL, for your reporting, and may Hashem bless Judge Francis Hodgson for having his priorities straight — not letting the sentencing be again postponed out of consideration for the victim’s family, and sending a clear message that attempts to “game the system” will have negative consequences.

    Nevertheless, I feel sorry for Yosef Kolko. By attempting to withdraw his guilty plea, he invited the damning testimony of his former attorney and ensured that he would receive the maximum sentence his plea agreement allowed. Of course he deserved punishment, but look at his face. A shlub, a shmendrik — pardon my ignorant Yiddish, but you get the idea. This is an adult who didn’t really grow up. Probably himself abused as a child, as YL once suggested, he appears to have been betrayed by his “father figure,” Rav Belsky, but in any case, “betrayed” by his own inability — usual among sexual abusers — to appreciate the gravity of his misconduct. That becomes understandable when the abuser has himself been abused — having been forced to think that what happened to him was “no big deal,” why is it surprising that he wants not only to believe it, but prove it by re-enacting his own loss of innocence by abusing a child like himself?

    On one hand, one can rightly say that, having spurned the mercy shown him by the victim’s father by not remaining in therapy, and having attempted to reject the mercy offered by society in the form of a plea agreement that could have punished him with as little as 5 years in prison, he deserved what he got. On the other hand, 12-3/4 years is a very long time, too long if Kolko can be rehabilitated, too short if he cannot — but in that case the appropriate remedy should be civil commitment, not criminal imprisonment. But human justice is imperfect, and in human terms, justice was done. Rachmana litzlan — may the Merciful One have mercy on us — all of us. Shabbat shalom, all.

  4. So can we finally lay to rest the absurd notion that Belsky is this massive genius that should be consulted about everything?!?

    His wild, rash, and cruel decisions in this case were also stupid and very silly. Many people were seriously harmed, not to mention the unprecedented “Chillul Hashem”.

    We can only pray that the OU and Torah Vadaas finally find the courage to dump this embarrassment!!!

  5. He is evil but he is not stupid. In the end, he accomplished a few things. He served Lakewood’s establishment by helping them expel the family of the victim. They will owe him. They themselves wanted that accomplished so no one else would go to the police but did not want to dirty themselves if it came out. More important, Yossi Kolko never publicly revealed the secret Belskly feared most, that he had been molested by close relative. Belsky has spent fourty years covering for Yehuda Kolko. If the guilty plea had followed by cooperation with the Avenal evaluation this would have come out along with remorse and he would have had a much better chance of getting a 5 year sentence. So Belsky successfully manipulated Yossi into not revealing that damaging secret. It of course cost Yossi about 8 more years in jail. But that is no skin off the back of a man willing to have some guys zapped in the genitals for Belsky to collect his beit din fee.

    Belsky is an embarassment but the OU is to blame for allowing itself to be schmendriks for Belsky just like Kolko.

  6. The statement from the RCA is very powerful, and unfortunately it’s the only one from a major rabbinic organization about this case to date. Particularly touching (Pardon the pun), is the quote from the victim.

    Nevertheless, it underscores the untenable position the RCA is maintaining so far. On one hand, they proclaim “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.” On the other hand, Belsky still maintains his leadership position at the OU, which they control!!!

    It almost feels as though this statement was put out by their PR team in an effort to get ahead of the story!!

    We can only hope they are already in the process of interviewing and meeting a potential replacement.

    • Once upon a time, the RCA was the “rabbinical arm” of the OU. But they became legally separate entities years ago. The OU’s full name is the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations of America, but they have also stopped responding to congregations and shortened the name in PR to Orthodox Union or just OU. The OU itself is dominated by the OU Kosher Division. Its CEO Rabbi Menachem Genack is more interested in political hobnobbing and building power than responding to the community. To him children are unimportant; what matters is power and Belsky works for him.

      The RCA tried very hard to work with the OU on a joint statement and they got stuck with a mangled statement after the trial. So this time, they did the right thing and put out a statement the next day which says what the want. The problem with the RCA statement is not hypocrisy, it is that those that want to change the OU will have to hit them the only place which matters to Menachem Genack: in his pocketbook and his prestige ratings.

      If you want to do more than just spout off you will have to do things like demonstrate, do boycotts, work on hurting Genacks reputation, etc. He loves sucking up to Coorey Booker. Make it embarassing for Booker to appear publicly with Genack, etc. Genack loved going on Nachum Segal’s show talking about Clinton being moral. etc.

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