Orthodox Jews convicted of or charged with child sex abuse in Brooklyn should have their identities protected because of the community’s “tight-knit and insular” nature, prosecutors claim in a response to The Forward’s request for information about the cases.
Rabbi David Zwiebel, who is Agudath’s executive vice president and a legal expert, said that a policy of withholding names of perpetrators should not be “across the board” in any community, according to Agudath spokesman Rabbi Avi Shafran.
Instead, Zwiebel believes that the release of defendants’ names should be evaluated on “a case-by-case basis,” Shafran said.
Although Brooklyn District Attorney Hynes has long resisted requests to identify Orthodox sex suspects, the letter is believed to represent the first time his office spelled out why it specifically singled them out for preferential treatment.
Assistant District Attorney Morgan Dennehy cited the state’s civil rights laws in denying the Forward’s request for the names of 85 Orthodox Jews arrested on sex charges during the past three years. The Forward made its request in December 2011 after prosecutors announced that scores of Orthodox Jews had been charged under a special program designed to encourage the community to come forward with information.
He did not explain whether prosecutors had concluded that there was anything specific about each of the 85 suspects that might make it possible for others to determine the identity of the victim from the identity of the suspect.
He also did not explain whether such a blanket exemption might be granted to other similarly “tight-knit” communities in the borough. And there were no details about what criteria prosecutors would use to determine whether a particular group should be granted such preferential status.’