Report: Brooklyn D.A. inflated impact of effort against sex abuse among haredim

NEW YORK (JTA) — Brooklyn’s district attorney has been inflating the results of a program aimed at combating child sexual abuse in the haredi Orthodox community, a New York Times investigation concluded.

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Whereas the office of Brooklyn’s district attorney, Charles Hynes, has claimed that its Kol Tzedek program has led to 95 arrests, the Times reported Friday that its investigation suggests that these claims “appear to be inflated.”

The Kol Tzedek program was launched in 2009 by the district attorney’s office in order to combat sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s large haredi community and encourage reporting of such crimes. The office has faced criticism over its refusal to publicly identify abusers prosecuted as a result of Kol Tzedek.

The Times reported that using public records it was able to identify the names of suspects and other details related to 47 of the 95 cases.

“More than half of the 47 seemed to have little to do with the program, according to the court records and interviews,” the paper reported.

“Some did not involve ultra-Orthodox victims, which the program is specifically intended to help. More than one-third involved arrests before the program began, as early as 2007,” the article continued. “Many came in through standard reporting channels, like calls to the police.”

The article noted that one of the cases involved a café owner convicted of molesting a Hispanic female employee and that three others involved Orthodox defendants accused of groping women on public transportation.

Hynes declined to be interviewed for the article.

The chief of his office’s sex crimes division, Rhonnie Jaus, told the paper that Kol Tzedek has been “an incredible success,” increasing the number of cases that the office has been able to address.

“Our numbers are not inflated,” she said. “If anything, they are conservative.”

Hynes’ critics say his office has not been aggressive in prosecuting sexual abusers in the haredi community.

Hynes has enjoyed strong political support in the haredi community, and haredi leaders have often been resistant to efforts to aggressively prosecute sexual abusers.

The article also reported that Hynes has not publicly challenged the position of the leading haredi advocacy group Agudath Israel of America, which instructs followers to confer with rabbis before reporting allegations of sexual abuse to police.
 

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