6/9/14 CORRECTION: This post which was previously titled “Breaking- Brooklyn DA Sacks Jewish Liaison Wolf Sender” was wrong. According to the KCDA press office, Sender “is not leaving… He is not being terminated or resigning now or in a few weeks.”]
Wolf Sender, a protégé of Boro Park Assemblyman Dov Hikind, was was forced to resign on Friday (6/7/14) though it is not clear exactly when the resignation goes into effect. (See Jews Need Justice; Not Someone in the DA’s Office to “Manage Jewish Affairs” for my coverage of his appointment in January 2014).
Henna White held the job under Charles Hynes. Everyone understood she served the interests of the Ultra orthodox Jewish political leadership helping Hynes secure votes and campaign contributions and in return being in “charge” of orthodox sex abuse cases. That usually meant helping child molesters get off the hook or at least get sweetheart plea bargains.
Thompson promised to treat orthodox offenders like others. He probably chose Sender at the urging of Dov Hikind who was the most important orthodox Brooklyn politician to support him when he unseated Hynes.
But the appointment was fraught with problems from the beginning. Before he started, Sender told the Haredi news site, Vos Iz Neias (VIN), “I am here for whatever the DA needs. I hope to accomplish whatever I can for our kehilla [community].” Those are contradictory goals as long as the community leadership believes in hobbling the DA when it comes to BlackHat-on-BlackHat crime.
Sender violated a cardinal rule of the Thompson administration: don’t announce an appointment before it starts. The discipline is so tight that some appointments were only announced a few weeks after the start date and others were never announced.
Sender and Hikind, probably broke the rule to signal to orthodox Brooklyn that Hikind was now the conduit for influence on the DA. The next best thing to improper influence is being able to convince people you have that ability.
Another example of this was the claim emanating from the Baruch Lebovits camp that his attorney, Alan Dershowitz, got to meet with DA Thompson. However, according to the DA’s Deputy Director of Public Information, Helen Peterson, “I have inquired and learned that Mr. Lebovits’ attorneys did not have access to DA Thompson nor any of his executive staff, despite seeking it. Instead, they were directed to the line prosecutor handling the case. They did not get preferential treatment” (email to me on 6/4/14).
Sender was supposed to help the DA navigate the orthodox community but he failed the office. He left the office clueless about Jerry Brauner’s community-wide reputation as a notorious molester when they almost granted him a no-jail plea bargain. Sender also let the DA be blindsided when the office granted a no-jail deal to Meilech Schnitzler who assaulted anti-abuse activist Rabbi Nochum Rosenberg. The office was simply clueless about the significance of this case and the message sent by the plea bargain.
The plea deal for Yoel Malik and the short additional sentence for Baruch Lebovits further damaged the DA’s credibility on orthodox sex abuse. It is possible, as the DA claims, that this was the best they could do in these two cases because the relevant witnesses were not cooperating. However, the missteps in other cases are tilting abuse victims to suspicion and distrust.
I suspect that Thompson has come to realize that Wolf Sender is not connecting him to all sides of the community, just to his cronies and to a leadership that invariably betrays its victims to plead for its criminals.
In my opinion, the Jewish liaison position, however it is labeled, should not be filled with anyone until someone can be found whose loyalty is to justice, not to the orthodox leadership. Thompson does not need the affection of their leadership. He got elected with an 11% margin even though most of the orthodox community voted against him.