Yesterday was a great day for 21-year-old, Hasidic pervert Menachem Deutsch. Two years ago it looked like he was going to spend a lot of time upstate. As reported in the Friday June 24th, 2011 New York Post headline, this “Brooklyn Sicko Lured Young Boys into Shul, Then Molested Them.”
The first victim, who turned 12 on Wednesday [June 22], was walking home from school at around 4 p.m. when he was approached by an unidentified man at Simcha Hall, a… shul [that] serves members of the Belz sect… [one of the largest Hasidic groups in Borough Park].
The man…pushed the boy into the bathroom of Simcha Hall, offered him money, and then pulled down the victim’s pants and molested him… The man then told the boy to leave.
Less than an hour later, another boy was walking by the synagogue when the same man accosted him, took him to the basement, and molested him there.
As soon as sources in Belz were asked about the incident, they immediately thought of Menachem Deutsch (מנחם מענדל דייטש). He was well known for this sort of thing. For a change, the families of the victims promptly reported the crime. By Sunday, June 26, he surrendered accompanied by “his rabbi and lawyer.” Apparently the Belz dayan (rabbinical judge) ordered cooperation with the police and they promptly turned over surveillance videotapes.
In the secular world this might just be a blip on the crime blotter. In Hasidic Boro Park, where predators are usually protected, this was big news, especially since Deutsch came from a prominent family and was married to the oldest granddaughter of the Moskowitz family of the venerated Shotzer Rebbe.
Activists were ecstatic. At last, all parties in the Hasidic community were behaving like responsible citizens.
When he showed up in court on Friday July 1st, a dispirited Deutsch did not have the usual Hasidic mob of boosters. He was accompanied by just one supporter, Ari Deutsch, his uncle. On the other side of the aisle were a slew of anti-abuse activists. His attorney, Israel (Izzy) Fried, requested an adjournment to consider a plea bargain under “discussion.”
This is par for course with Izzy Fried who specializes in defending orthodox sex offenders and usually negotiates plea bargains at the going rate. I am not sure about the going rate for this case but these were serious charges. They included a C Felony of Luring a Child to Commit a Crime (PL120.70.00), two D Felonies of Sexual Abuse with Forcible Contact (130.65.01), and 6 misdemeanors.
Jump forward about two years to May 30th; Deutsch had a new attorney of record, Arthur (Artie) Aidala. I immediately knew this was bad news for justice.
Aidala specializes in trying to intimidate DA staff by dropping hints about his special connection to District Attorney, Charles J Hynes. Aidala is President of the Charles J Hynes Association and is reputed to be a bundler for his campaign. I suppose that makes him a very good friend of Joe Hynes. I am guessing the defendant was directed to Aidala by the Munkatcher Rebbe who is the community’s ultimate shadchan (matchmaker) between criminals and lawyers. He also brokers campaign contributions to candidates.
Just weeks before the trial, ADA Linda Weinman expressed confidence in the readiness of the victims to testify in a conversation with an anti-abuse activist in the courthouse. ADA Weinman told the court she wanted to go to trial unless the defendant accepted a plea bargain of 3 years. Aidala smirked and took a pass on the offer. Artie had a good reason to smirk. According to the word on the street, Artie was working with Joe and even arranged a direct meeting between Hynes and the victims . It is also rumored that Artie had a hand in arranging a meeting between Hynes and a representative of the victim of Aidala’s other well known Hasidic perv, Baruch Mordechai Lebovits.
To make a long story short, yesterday, Judge A. M. Donelly approved a 6-month plea bargain for Deutsch (plus ten years probation). This was possible because the DA allowed a plea to one lesser D felony and one misdemeanor to also cover two more serious C Felonies and five other misdemeanors. The Judge was amazed and annoyed. But the deal was done. But the judge was not too annoyed to also agree to continue bail until a final sentencing date three months from now, on September 30th, after Sukkoth. It was very considerate of the Judge to leave him around kids during the unstructured summer month and while kids are out of school during the fall holidays. This way he won’t have to wait until school ends at 4:00 pm.
The Office of the DA claims the family agreed to the plea deal in order to spare the victims the trauma of testifying. This is the standard line of DAs dependent on Haredi votes when they cut sweetheart deals. But the sequence is strange. Normally it takes a while to get victims ready to testify. It is very unusual for them to be willing to testify from early on and then suddenly change their mind in the run-up to a trial.
I am willing to believe the kids were dreading testifying after they met with Hynes. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall as Hynes empathized with their terror at being tormented on the stand by his buddy, Arthur Aidala.
However it is worth noting that the Office of the DA is talking about the trauma of testifying, not claiming they were unable or unwilling to testify. Most victims find testifying difficult but therapeutic, particularly children who feel empowered. Carried to the extreme, the DA’s office is claiming all victims would be better off not testifying and the office would be inclined to spare all of them that difficulty.
After sunset last night, observant Jews completed the day-long fast which initiates the three weeks of mourning for the destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem. But it was party time for Deutsch’s friends who organized a celebration. I will bet Aidala was invited along with the Munkatcher Rebbe who is famous for dancing with ex-cons, acquitted criminals, and perverts who get off lightly.
If Hynes was an honest man he would have attended as the guest of honor. But he prefers letting the campaign contributions roll in through Artie, and the votes through Niederman, Moshe (Gabbai) Friedman, the Munkatcher Rebbe and Ben Barber.
This case may not get any attention in the secular or Jewish media. But Hasidic parents of young children are reeling. They finally had a major Hasidic group fully supporting the prosecution of one of its own. They had two witnesses. The evidence was solid and included videotapes. Yet, Menachem Deutsch got off with 6 months for three felonies and six misdemeanors. As one Hasid told me last night, “If we can’t win Deutsch it is time to give up.” I don’t agree, but I can’t fault his sentiment.
I do fault a District Attorney who only meets with victims when they have agreed to sweetheart plea deals for defendants such as Meir Dascalowitz and Menachem Deutsch. Hynes did meet with Weberman’s victim, but only after sentencing. I suppose we should be grateful that he didn’t meet her beforehand to give his blessing to a lousy plea bargain. But then of course, Arthur Aidala wasn’t representing Weberman.
Update: Yoshiyahu Pinto, a rabbi under indictment in Israel for fraud also retained Arthur Aidala in 2012 after FBI agents began investigating him on US charges.