Charles (Joe) Hynes is now in his 24th and last year in office as Brooklyn DA. He has a perfect record in dealing with members of the orthodox Jewish community who threaten, intimidate, bribe, and assault those who fight to have child abuse prosecuted. He has never gotten anyone committing these crimes sentenced to a single day in jail. Sometimes he takes a plea deal and recommends jail time. But even then he always ends up having judges go easy.
Criminal defense lawyers understand how the game is played. You officially ask for time, but you write up the sentencing brief and handle the oral presentation in ways that induce the judge to know this is a charade and you are really not asking for a prison sentence.
Meilech Schnitzler, who threw a cup of bleach into the eyes of anti-abuse activist Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg has a court appearance today in front of the Honorable J. Gubay. Rabbi Rosenberg was writhing in pain and unable to see and might not have been able to save himself. Luckily, a quick-minded bystander flushed his eyes with water. But for that help, he might have been permanently blinded. Instead, he was treated, and following a painful course of treatment, his eyesight is back to normal.
Schnitzler attacked Rabbi Rosenberg on December 11, 2012, the day that Rabbi Nechemya Weberman was convicted on all 59 counts of child sexual abuse. Shortly before the attack, Rabbi Rosenberg publicly declared that a relative of his assailant was going to be the next to be prosecuted for child molesting. I don’t know if the attack was motivated by anger or the desire to intimidate Rabbi Rosenberg. But it was definitely a violent crime and it sent the message that if you are in danger if you are too outspoken about abuse. I know that the attack had a chilling effect on many skirting with the idea of going more public about their fight against abuse. However, it did not deter Rabbi Rosenberg. On leaving the hospital he declared: “They are not gonna stop me. …… They thought they were going to blind me and I will stop this war. If I would have to pick them up with a seeing eye dog, I would pick them up!”
No one should have to be willing to accept those risks in order to fight child abuse. I don’t know what will happen in court, but I doubt Mr. Hynes will break his perfect streak of never sending an intimidator to jail. At the time of the attack, Rabbi Rosenberg’s attorney, Abe George, asked the DA to appoint a special prosecutor because the DA had a conflict of interest in pursuing this case. As Mr. George pointed out in a letter to DA Hynes, Rabbi Rosenberg publicly criticized and attacked Hynes as corrupt. George did not mention that Rabbi Rosenberg regularly stated on his call-in hotline: “Charles J. Hynes drinks the blood of Jewish children with his Irish whiskey.” Rosenberg was referring of course to the blood of Jewish children whose molesters got easy treatment by the Brooklyn DA.
Hynes ignored the request. However, this morning the NY Post reports that Hynes is seeking a special prosecutor to go after Barbara A. Burke, a whistleblower and a former ADA in his office who he accuses of “forging” an email between him and Sol Wachtler where a racist term was used about the incoming, African-American, Brooklyn-DA, Kenneth Thompson. I am sure that this won’t go anywhere, but by having his buddy, the Staten Island DA, carry the case, he will be able to keep it alive even after he leaves office at the end of December.
According to Michael Powell, Hynes’ departure, like his tenure, is the story of “a broken-down horse of a politician [who] comes up lame.” I would add, it is the story of a spiteful man, determined to kick a few more people on his way to the glue factory.