We previously discussed the decision of prosecutors to grant ultra-Orthodox Jewish defendants anonymity — denied to other defendants — in facing sex-crime charges. It is, in my view, a highly problematic form of favoritism shown to a powerful community in Brooklyn. Moreover, as discussed earlier, it is highly unlikely in this tight-knit community that the identification of both the accused and victims would not be known. Now, four Hasidic men have been arrested for alleged harassment and obstruction of witnesses, including the offer of a $500,000 bribe to refuse to testify against a Hasidic leader. The prominent accused man in the Satmar Hasidic community, Nechemya Weberman, has been accused of 88 counts of sexual misconduct, including oral sex with a child younger than 13 years old. In addition to the money, the men are accused of threatening to withdraw the kosher certification from the restaurant of the boyfriend, Hershy Deutsch, unless the woman dropped her claims.
The four men accused of offering a young woman and her boyfriend a $500,000 bribe not to testify against Weberman. The woman is one of the alleged victims who was abused as a young Jewish teen. Her boyfriend was allegedly also threatened that his restaurant would be denied kosher certification by the sons of a leading Rabbi. Abraham Rubin, 48, was charged with bribery, witness tampering and coercion. He promised to send them to Israel and to give them the name of a lawyer who would help them change their testimony. The name of the lawyer has not been released. Also charged are Jacob, Joseph and Hertzka Berger, sons of a local rabbi who are now facing coercion charges for the threat to withdraw the boyfriend’s restaurant’s kosher certification.
If true, it would appear that bribery and coercion (and possible child abuse) are less of a pressing concern for some in this community than access to the Internet and “unadulterated freedom.”
While withholding the names of accused men, members of the Hasidic community gathered at fundraisers where the victim was identified and posters were hung on lampposts and brick walls accusing her in Yiddish, of libel.
Hynes office has been ridiculed over its handling of these cases. In addition, the office committed prosecutorial abuse by failing to share exculpatory evidence with defense attorneys in a case involving allegation of rape and the forcible prostitution of a Chabad Lubavitch woman from Crown Heights for nearly a decade. The entire case was dropped. There is no report of punishment over the abuse or why the man would not have to face a new trial.
We have previously discussed the difficulties faced by rape victims in the orthodox Jewish community. Hynes’ office however has made it more difficult for such victims by granting special status to accused defendants and mishandling these cases, in my view.