DA to Give Serial Groper Jerry Brauner No-Jail Deal over Objections of Victim (Updated)

Jerry (Yechiel) Brauner

Jerry (Yechiel) Brauner

Repeat offender, sixty-year-old Jerry (Yechiel) Brauner of Boro Park, is set to get a no-jail, five-year probation plea-deal tomorrow (Tuesday, 5/6/14, 9 a.m.) in Brooklyn Criminal Court, Division 2 (120 Schermerhorn St. 11201) on charges of forcible touching (PL 135.52 00) and sexual abuse of a young man (130.55.00). Brauner allegedly committed these acts on December 20, 2013, and police arrested him on January 6, 2014. It is the first orthodox sex abuse prosecution handled from beginning to end during Kenneth Thompson’s term as Brooklyn District Attorney. Had the DA brought the case to trial, Brauner could have been sentenced to a year in prison. The victim objected but the Office of the DA decided to go ahead with the deal.

Twelve years ago in March 2002, Brauner pled guilty to Felony Sexual Abuse in the 1st Degree (PL 130.65) and Misdemeanor Sexual Abuse in the 3rd degree (PL 130.55). He evaded a prison sentence and got off with eleven years of probation. He was also classified as a level 3 on the sex offender registry. It was a sweetheart deal but still stiff for DA Joe Hynes who kowtowed to the orthodox community. Hynes probably got the go-ahead for the sex offender registration probation deal by orthodox leadership who considered Brauner a particularly egregious offender.

His probation terms limited him to going to a communal ritual bath (mikvah) once a year because he posed a danger to others, especially children. However, he regularly violated the terms of probation. This is yet another example of the limited value of probation with Haredi offenders. I hope the DA’s office did not fool itself into thinking this new probation agreement accomplished very much.

In 2006, the New York Post reported Brauner, now on the sex offender registry and on probation, lied about his conviction when he applied for a notary license. He then used the license to notarize a document designed to swindle a sick woman. According to the Post:

A devious cabal that included a pedophile rabbi stole a half-million-dollar home from a cancer-stricken woman, using a forged power of attorney to sell it and pocket the profits…Margaret Franklin’s Crown Heights home was stolen in August 2004 after Nathen Farkas, 31, forged a power of attorney, signing Franklin’s name, that effectively handed control of her assets to co-defendant Russell Pitt. The power of attorney was notarized by a third defendant, Jerry Brauner, 53, a rabbi who had been on probation since 2002 for the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old boy. Pitt then “sold” the property to the fourth defendant.

Teflon Brauner is a legend in Boro Park for his good fortune with prosecutors and his unstoppable groping in synagogues, catering halls, ritual baths, and everywhere else.

Jerry (Yechiel) Brauner in Congregation Shomer Shabbos

Jerry (Yechiel) Brauner in
Congregation Shomer Shabbos

The Haredi Chaptzem Blog organized a petition against Congregation Shomer Shabbos in 2008, based on information in their 2007 article where they stated:

According to sources that spend substantial time in the Shomer Shabbos Shul in Boro-Park, Yechiel Brauner is still touching kids in places where nobody should. According to the sources, which are keeping a close eye on convicted child molester, Yechiel Brauner, who frequents the Shul, the molester’s routine works like this; he enters the Shul when it is very busy. He then walks around until he has found himself a comfortable spot at a crowded doorway or thorough-way. He then proceeds to stand there with his arm extended downward, all the while feeling up unsuspecting children as they pass by.

The petition got over 140 signatures, and most of those who signed, used their names, which is unusual in the Haredi world.

Two years later,  in my 2010 post, The Shul for Scandal: Where the Molesters Prey, I reported that Brauner was still a regular at this busy shul, along with other molesters. The shul insisted that “everyone needs a place to daven (pray)” though they did exclude Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg because he is an anti-abuse activist.

Congregation Shomer Shabbos has such a bad reputation that the ultra-orthodox website,  Yeshiva World News, took the unusual step of quoting Frum Follies about the bad judgment of mayoral candidate Lhota, who visited Shomer Shabbos in October 2013. That is the only time I have ever been quoted in any ultra-orthodox publication or website and one of the few times they tacitly alluded to sex abuse. They copied my words:

It may be unfair to Lhota to blame him for not knowing the reputation of the place. In all likelihood, Lhota did not know. But at some point politicians have to start demanding of their orthodox liaisons that they steer them clear of those culpable in the worst way.” (Frumfollies)

Yeshiva World News omitted what I said next:

…It is hard to deal with the ultra orthodox establishment without dealing with people who are culpable in ignoring or covering up sex abuse. Shomer Shabbos is a particularly bad place. I was informed of another alleged groping by Brauner, in public, just in the last week.

Even molester-friendly Satmar kicked him out of their community. In 2011, Congregation Shomer Shabbos finally banned Brauner from their premises. But according to local sources, they backtracked to let him say his eleven months of Kaddish at morning, afternoon and evening prayers after his father passed away. However, he was again thrown out after molesting another boy on premises, according to local sources.

It is unusual for an ultra orthodox Jew to bring criminal charges against another. But Brauner was tempting the odds with his perpetual groping. Because he is so notorious, the victim anticipated less community opposition.

Kenneth Thompson

Kenneth Thompson

While this no-prison plea deal is in line with the prevailing standards for the facts on the books, the DA had the discretion to demand a stronger plea bargain. In my opinion the DA wasted an opportunity to demand a stiffer deal or bring a case to trial. Such opportunities are few and far between. I wonder if Thompson’s liaison, Wolf Sender, his operative, Ezra Friedlander, and high level orthodox contacts such as Gary Schlesinger advised him of the facts on the ground, or whether, as is more likely, they let him fly blind. I fear the latter.

Last week I wrote, I Hope Thompson Is Merely Clueless about Witness Intimidation because otherwise, he is being complacent about a major obstacle to prosecuting orthodox sex crimes.

I am disappointed with Thompson, but perhaps I misunderstood his campaign promise to prosecute orthodox sex crimes like those in other groups. I assumed that Thompson was a serious man interested in the goal of justice which is protecting the community. But perhaps he is content to be a bureaucrat who is only interested in justifying himself on technical grounds. I assumed that prosecuting equally meant protecting children equally, but perhaps that is not his priority.

I have always seen Thompson as a proud, dignified man. But perhaps he is willing to be seen the fool by the orthodox Jewish public as the price of not provoking their ire. However, it will be worse than that. While the leadership will see him as their sucker or lap dog, the public will assume he is corrupt (though I do not believe that is true).  You cannot fly blind and maintain your credibility.

I hope I am wrong but I am getting discouraged by his record to date.

UPDATE 5/6/14 11 a.m. No plea deal was made this morning, though one was slated yesterday, before I posted. The case was adjourned (to Wednesday, May 22nd). Since I do not believe Brauner nixed such a good deal, I have to assume the DA made that decision, probably in response to the outcry raised here. Kudos to the growing strength of the anti-abuse movement and to the fact that the DA erred seriously but is not corrupt. I have left the rest of the article as written yesterday when a plea deal was anticipated. Its points are still valid. Hopefully, this last minute reversal signals a change of direction by the Office of the DA.

UPDATE 5/6/14 7 a.m. —If you are offended by Brauner’s no-jail plea deal and want to let the Brooklyn DA know:

1. Share this post with your friends via FaceBook, Twitter, email and other social media and urge others to respond.

2. Write your reactions to this development as a comment below. I know the office of the DA pays attention to the contents of Frum Follies. I have an active DA readership which knows me as “Mr. Frum.”

3. Contact:

By mail or in person: The District Attorney’s Action Center
350 Jay Street
16th Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11201 (“Walk-ins are welcome”}

By phone: 718-250-2340 (M-F, 9-5)

4. Please share your letters, phone exchanges, or walk-in exchanges on this blog page so there is a cumulative record. You can record and share your phone or face-to-face exchanges. NYS law allows recording and sharing as long as one party (you) consents.

Let’s get them to listen to the voices of victims/survivors and their supporters. We cannot trust the askanim to protect our children and fight for justice.

Please act! If you can, please act before the plea deal is finalized today (Tuesday 5/6/14) which can happen as early at 9:00 a.m. or as late as 4:30. I will update this page if I learn about a postponement.

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39 thoughts on “DA to Give Serial Groper Jerry Brauner No-Jail Deal over Objections of Victim (Updated)

  1. What can I say other than that I’m glad I’m not a Hasid nor a Haredi nor do I live in Brooklyn any more. What a hopeless business. How is Thompson any better than Hynes in this regard?

  2. He is much better. He is not corrupt. He is prosecuting cases by the book but without paying attention or building specialized understanding of the ultra orthodox community. To be fair, I feel the need to criticize him in the hope of getting him to do things right. Hynes was deliberately corrupting justice and it was clear that he was not going to change. Thompson is also improving the quality of staff and professional standards in the office. I cannot picture Thompson deliberately violating the law to produce a wrongful conviction.

    • I’m in agreement – Breezy Point Joe has been screwing Brooklyn for DECADES; Thompson has been at the job for mere months.

      The fact that the Scar (Detective Louie-Hit-Ya-Over-Da-Head-Wit’-A-Table) is being scutinized should speak volumes in regards to Thompson bring change to the KCDA’s office.

      • Vecchione is the one who threatened to hit a witness over the head with a coffee table. Of course, LS has his own shtick to keep producing confessions, a number of which were by innocent citizens.

  3. This man molested my sixteen year old brother 16 years ago. We pressed charges in spite of A lot opposition. He got 30 days of house arrest Thanks to Henna White and Rabbi Edgar Gluck. What time is his sentencing. is there anyone we could talk to about this

  4. It’s business as usual in the Brooklyn DA’s office I thought u would be more vociferous with Thompson. We could have kept Hynes for such sweetheart deals.

  5. Boorey Deutsch is the husband of the victim who testified against Weberman, and an effective anti-abuse activist who helps bring cases to the prosecutor.
    He responded to this upcoming plea deal, writing in FaceBook:

    Is DA Thompson boiling Sex Abuse Victim’s Blood in his kitchen and drinking it for morning Coffee??

    Dose he have any feelings for his job??

    Is he being controlled “again” by the so-called Jewish leaders??

    Did he promise them he wouldlet abusers roam the streets free if they get him into office??

    Is this a joke Mr Thompson??

    You are giving him probation again?? He had that and violated that many times. Did your office push it for votes to get in to office??

    Unbelievable! The blood of victims is nothing!

    We cannot let this go on!

  6. Let’s not delude ourselves: The fix is in. We’ve been conned. Thompson is going to do–or is going to be led to do–what the power brokers want.

    • Get Kaddafi, get Saddam, we got them both. Now go get the power brokers, put em outta business. All you need do is vote them out of office, just like you did to previous da.

      • Yeah, vote them out. A dumpster would be super extreme although some might have Walter Mitty fantasies re such.

  7. Ian Christner, a staffer on the Thompson campaign for DA with responsiblities specific to the Jewish community, wrote on FaceBook, “Given Mr. Brauner’s history of sexual abuse in the community I think a stiffer sentence is warranted… [with]… some jail time.”

    “Brauner is the ‘Teflon molester; no matter what, the guy doesn’t get no jail time.”

  8. The FaceBook page of the anti-abuse organization Mi Li [who will be for me] posted this story with the preface:

    Tremendous disappointment in the new Brooklyn DA.
    As usual, the Community is protecting predators and ignoring victims. This must end!!!

  9. It’s important that the DA’s office and Judges in Brooklyn know in advance that if they give an improper sweetheart deal with no time and no public sex offender registration like they’ve done in the past for convicted pedophiles Rabbis Yehuda Kolko and Lewis/Lipa Brenner and many others there will be considerable negative publicity.

  10. How do you know the “operatives/askanim” simply ignored the case? There has been no evidence that Kok Txedek has changed its approach of protecting molesters in the frum community.

    I think Thompson’s office is quickly losing the right to the benefit of the doubt. When he was elected Nochum Rosenberg predicted that it was just a matter of time before Satmar/Aguda/Ohel would get to him as much as Hynes. It is only a little surprising how quickly they succeeded.

    As Jack Nicholson was told in “Chinatown, “It’s Brooklyn, Jake.”

    • Dr. Lipner:

      There has been no indication that the Kol Tzedek program is still existing (except perhaps on paper). All involved there have left with the old regime. It is premature, without specific knowledge, to make any accusations of corruption, or that the DA office is protecting anyone. The original report of the plea deal, which is understandably angering, turns out to be a false alarm. The commenters here are correct in stressing the need to be sure that the voices of the victims and especially the potential victims (all the rest of our children) are heard, and that we want this monster out of circulation.

      • The indication that it is business as usual is that Thompson allowed the guy who assaulted Nochum Rosenberg to walk. Nochem represents the biggest advocate for the safety of Jewish children in Brooklyn, and that is known to all. To make him fair game for Satmar to physically attack is a strong statement to the community that witness intimidation will be tolerated as it always has.

        Keep in mind that when the word on the street was that Hynes was going to offer Daskalowitz a plea with no jail time, Yerachmiel called a press conference and some of us went on TV to protest, and the DA backed down immediately. The very fact that we have not yet been reassured that OFCOURSE Brauner will be thrown in jail and prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

        Conventional wisdom is that any politician who makes campaign promises to get elected can not be trusted to keep them until he or she actually does. So far there may not be any indication that Thompson will not be different than Hynes, but there is definitely no indication other than his promises that he actually will be any better.

        Of course, I hope and pray he will take Yerachmiel’s impassioned open letter to heart. But the same way it took the NY Times and Mary Murphy of channel 12 news to hold Hynes accountable and cost him his job, I fear that only the media will be able to keep Thompson on the straight and narrow.

        Again, Its Brooklyn. The one thing Hynes ever said that was true, is that the Jewish community is a mafia here. Only Rudy Guliani was a strong enough prsecutor to bring down the mafia.

        Ed Koch, ,A”H, also said shortly before he passed away, that there needs to be a special prosecutor appointed by the Governor to take on witness intimidation in sex abuse cases in the frum community.

        I think the mafia has too much influence even in Albany, and we need the Feds.

      • In an email today(5/6/14), Brooklyn DA press spokesperson Sheila Stainback confirmed that Kol Tzedek continues in operation as it did under Hynes. Ms. Stainback did not answer any questions about personnel, but from other sources I have confirmed that social worker Chanah Wildavsky continues to work for them and continues to answer their phone , in person, with an opening greeting the refers to Kol Tzedek.

        I do not know that Kol Tzedek poses a danger now that Henna White is gone and has no replacement. At the same time I feel they should should eliminate it or redefine its mission, especially since the Thompson administration seems intent on disregarding all information about the orthodox community specifically relevant to their handling of cases. Hence their insensitivity the message sent by letting Melich Schnitzler off without jail time for a premeditated assault on anti-abuse activist Nuchem Rosenberg, and their close call in nearly letting Jerry Brauner off without any jail time.

      • Just another voice, You say “he original report of the [Brauner] plea deal, which is understandably angering, turns out to be a false alarm. ”

        Actually, I offered the DA spokesperson an opportunity to deny that there was a deal. She promised me an answer, but wisely chose to say nothing. Naturally, in private, people are free to make all sorts of statements about original plans which ended up being aborted at the last moment under public pressure and after the office of the DA came to realize what everyone who is in the loop in BP knows, that Jerry Brauner is a notorious serial molester.

        • The crazy thing here is that if Mr. Thompson truly wants to understand how the community works and how best to combat abuse and witness tampering, all he has to do is to read Frum Follies.

          Instead of meeting with Ohel and the community rabbis, which he has already done, he should meet with Joel Engleman, Rabbi Blau, Debby Teller of Adkan, Meyer Seewald of JCW, and yes, Nochem Rosenberg. He would also do well to pick the brilliant mind of Hella Winston.

  11. What Thompson has in common with Lawrence NY resident & Ohel CEO David Mandel is they will do anything to protect their 6 figure salaries that approach half a million dollars. Little boys & girls being violated by predators are expendable lest Thompson & Mandel feel the wrath of the power brokers controlling boards of directors and public bloc votes.

    What happened to Seewald by the way?

    • Re. Seewald: Like most of us who are anti-abuse advocates in the orthodox world he subsidized the effort with his unpaid time. For his personal reasons he needed time off. I hope he will be able to return, as does he. the only people who get paid for this work are usually subsidized by the Haredi establishment, and compromised as a result. The only important exception I know of is Manny Waks of Australia. He gave up a permanent government job and has no guarantee because he is still raising his salary from year to year. Fortunately for him, Australia is a wealthy Jewish community and he bring impressive credentials to the job.

  12. Why not have public protests outside the DA’s office every time a ridiculous plea bargain is offered to a predator? A press conference calling for a federal investigation?

    I mean, does anyone believe for a milli-second that had a black person who was an advocate for victims of any sort been subject to what was done to NR by a Satmar ‘chasid’ the perpetrator would have gotten off essentially scot-free? Come on, this isn’t the Deep South in 1905, when Jim Crow reigned supreme and the KKK could get away with murder.

    This is a clear-cut example of discrimination against victims solely because of their ethnicity!

  13. One should remember that what makes a reasonable plea offer for a prosecutor depends not only on the severity of the crime, but also on the likelihood of obtaining a conviction. And except in special cases, the defendant’s prior history and reputation in the community are not admissible in aguilt phase of a trial.

    • To the best of my information there would have been no difficulty obtaining a conviction.

      There are many other victims of Brauner whose cases cannot be prosecuted because they are outside the SOL but they could testify to corroborate if the judge approves the Molineux application. Moreover, as we have seen in other cases such as Yosef Kolko, the visible vigorous prosecution of one victim can prompt other ones to come forward, including perhaps ones within the statute of limitations. Brauner’s reputation and multiple unreported instances makes it more likely in his case than most.

      In the penalty phase, unlike the trial phase, reputation can factor-in in various ways.

  14. The way I see it we need to accomplish the following in NY:

    1) Abolish the limitations period for child sexual abuse charges and lawsuits.
    2) Keep the public pressure on the DA. No quiet deals like Rabbis Kolko and Brenner.
    3) Pressure the DA publicly to charge and insist on jail time for anyone obstructing justice by threatening survivors and their activists.
    4) Dismantle the network of pedophile protectors and enablers by making their activities (harassment of survivors, letter writing on behalf of pedophiles etc.) public.
    5) Create a network of resources and supports for survivors of child sexual abuse.
    6) Make more information and documentation in respect of pedophiles operating in our community public.

    Rabbi Heshi Nussbaum is now a confessed and convicted pedophile. It took too many decades and house arrest in my opinion is too mild a punishment, but it is a start. In NY he would never have been charged let alone convicted. This must change.

    http://www.theunorthodoxjew.blogspot.com/2014/05/after-60-years-of-sexually-abusing.html
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/HESHI-NUSSBAUMS-TORONTO-BOYS-CHOIR-JEWISH-CHASSIDIC-MINT-SEALED-LP-/281240068559

    • 1) Maybe not abolish, but certainly, we should extend the period of viability;
      2) In total agreement – sunlight is the best disinfectant;
      3) It only makes sense to make an example of the bastards – let them know that at NO TIME will intimidation be accepted;
      4) Exactly;
      5) Even better;
      6) Knowledge is POWER. Lack of knowledge is POWERLESSNESS.

      Let’s take our city back and have a safe place for children.

  15. Jail-time is too light as a punishment for repeat-abusers, though, while they are confined they can not abuse minors.

    • Disclose all information of the ENABLERS intimidation and harassment techniques while using the services of Shomrim, Chaveirim and Chaveirims chaverim network, and a good start would be in creating an information gathering Center, helping out where to report their dark and criminal activities. They are the Hammas wing of the Under-the-rug-sweepers, bullying victims and their families until they chas vesholem collapse. I am sure Boorey D can be of big help in the destruction of this racketeering. You will be shocked to hear their vast chicanery operation they inflict on the public at large. Gettem, and gettem now!

    • As opposed to the somewhat frequent use of the colloquial term “grow a pair”, in these cases the opposite would act as a strong deterrent. One major case in the public square, the “agora”. it would need to be by vigilantes, early JDL types, perhaps. Someone with stage 4 metastases and nothing to lose???? . One time only. Watch the rate of CSA decrease exponentially. Some Arab countries have a disgusting custom. following the removal. That is beyond the pale and not necessary. Just the one time removal. Very non-Jewish. But nothing is more important than protecting our children, and, so far, we have not met with much success. I imagine that i have shocked and alienated some decent folks. So be it.
      Evil warrants evil.

  16. The other issue is whether we should laud attorneys who defend child molesters. Many attorneys would not take such a case under any circumstances. Some attorneys seem willing to take any case, no matter how revolting the charges–for a huge fee, of course.

    Should attorneys who consider themselves members of the orthodox Jewish community face no repercussions when they enable someone who is clearly a pedophile to get off on a technicality, for example, or who get multiple letters from people who hold themselves out to be professionals.

    I am not saying that those accused of such crimes should not be provided legal representation, but I do wonder whether lawyers who stoop to the level of defending such predators, thus enabling them to harm dozens if not hundreds of more children, should be made MCs at Jewish dinners, receive awards from yeshivas, et al.

    • By appearance, the defense attorney did not seem to be Jewish. Right now, Alan Dershowitz and his brother Nathan (collectively known as the Dershbags) are feted at Yeshiva University and by Hasidic rabbis for their defense of Baruch Lebovits.

  17. Should a prominent Lawrence attorney who achieved fame defending mafiosos defend pedophiles who go after his own community’s children (assuming he considers us all one community)? He too is honored by our orthodox community. If there’s no down side to enabling and protecting child molesters, what can we expect? Would we honor a business that enables trief meat to be brought in to our community? What if a psychologist enabled cult leaders to talk to our kids and convince them to join a Christian cult? Should we laud or condemn an attorney who eagerly defends people who if only given another chance will strike again and destroy more Jewish kids’ lives?

  18. 5/22/14
    I’d like to say as
    a victim of this scumbag, that he should have been imprisoned a long time ago.Also, note that Brauner does not only grope children.When I was approximately thirty years old, I was groped by Brauner during davening at Shomer Shabbos shul.During davening, while I was holding a sefer torah, he fondled my crotch.He is a real sicko.Yerachmiel:Please use whatever influence you have with the DA’s office to see to it that Brauner is sent to prison.He needs to experience some prison lovin’ from a well endowed inmate.

    • I am sorry for your experience, shared by so many others. You ask me to use my influence with the DA’s office. Believe me I am and will continue to the fullest extent I can both through my blogging and other channels available to me.

      However, You and others can greatly amplify the effect by also communicating with the office through the various methods I mention at the end of the post. Do it, all of you! write, phone, drop in, etc. By all means, come back here and share your messages and responses. The initial protest stopped the deal for the moment.We have to stop it permanently.

      During the Hynes era the fix was in. The Thompson office is a more mixed and fluid administration. We can have more influence if we do the work.

  19. Irony is — Brauner and Rosenberg are first cousins — mother and father are brothers and sisters — and indeed they ar on oppostie ends of spectrum.

    Irony is — It is Nuchem Rosenberg who has been thrown out, but Brauner, whose family provides the bread (literally and euphemistically) to Satmar Talmud Torah gets a pass.

    Will not go into details, but now I understand what a certain family member said. I suspect Brauner molested his own sibling way back when. Or else, the sibling was possibly involved in some twisted stuff of his own making. Involved a finger, anus, and swollen prostate, in the name of religion and reportedly a compulsive need for cleansing ones inners to be tahor.

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