Baruch (Mordechai) Lebovits is scheduled for sentencing today (7/9/14). He pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a boy and negotiated a two-year sentence. But since he already served a year, he will be in jail for less than a year.
However, the Judge Mark Dwyer can kill the deal by imposing a larger sentence. When Lebovits’s deal was entered the court noted a proviso that “If for any reason on sentencing date I can’t do that, I would just give [the] plea back and it would be like this never happened.” The court also based its agreement to the deal on the assumption that this was the standard for this sort of crime. However, as noted by Niall MacGuillabhui, attorney for another of Lebovits’s victims, proper consideration of all of Lebovits’ other victims makes this an unreasonably short sentence. Bear in mind that when he was previously convicted for the same crimes he was sentenced for 10-32 years. That conviction was overturned on a technicality, but he pleaded guilty to the same indictment.
The Jewish Week has an excellent article detailing the full rationale for this longer sentence.
If Dwyer does not impose the longer sentence it will be because of two very different failings of the office of the Brooklyn District Attorney.
They muffed the case intentionally under Hynes by dropping two of the three victims, failing to investigate witness intimidation and bribery, and by bringing a case against Sam Kellner. The Thompson administration has never fully investigated these crimes or taken personnel actions against the remaining staff implicated in those failings including ADAs Gregory, Batsides, and Alexis. Secondly, the sentencing brief prepared under Thompson probably failed to document these facts or the evidence that Lebovits has many other victims.
The indictment of Kellner by Vecchione’s Rackets Division was particularly egregious. He is the father of one of Lebovits’ victims who found other victims and got them to press charges. In collusion with the Lebovits defense team DA Hynes accused Samuel Kellner of attempted extortion and suborning perjury. Eventually all the charges were dropped because the DA’s office concluded none of the witnesses were credible. But this long farce interfered with the case and gave Lebovits time to buy off other witnesses.
DA, Kenneth Thompson is making quite a name for himself by exonerating wrongfully convicted inmates. However, at least in those cases there was a crime, usually murder, but the wrong man was sent to jail. In Kellner’s case, there never was a crime and the case was brought for the sole purpose of protecting a notorious pedophile. If Thompson does not clean out his office by investigating internal failures, those culpable will always have an incentive to protect each other and others involved in this crime. Moreover, victims and survivors in the orthodox community will not trust the Thompson administration to protect Jewish children.
Whatever the outcome of sentencing this morning, the Lebovits case will not be over until this whole dirty affair is investigated and those culpable pay the price.
UPDATE: 7/9/14, 1 p.m.— Judge Mark Dwyer imposed the 2 year sentence of the plea deal. With time off for time served there is less than a year and there are further reductions for “good behavior.” Failed Messiah claims he can be out in weeks. I expect he will serve closer to 6 months.
See also Hella Winston’s report in the Jewish Week, “Lebovits Gets 2 Years; Victim Addresses His Abuser” which is based on her observations in the courtroom.
The New York Times reported that the victim in this case said Lebovits never said he was sorry. So much for those who will say that Lebovits repented (did teshuvah).