Thursday, November 13, 2008
Question: Is Dov Hikind guilty of Aiding and Abetting???
New York Times
November 13, 2008
Sexual Abuse Complaints Subpoenaed
By PAUL VITELLO
Since last year, when Assemblyman Dov Hikind invited his radio show listeners to discuss an explosive topic — sexual abuse of children in the Orthodox Jewish community — he says he has collected more than 1,000 complaints and the names of 60 accused sexual predators.
He has kept those stories under lock and key in his Brooklyn office, he says, because the people who said they were victims had sworn him to secrecy, fearful of becoming outcasts in a community where perceived troublemakers risk losing employment, housing and even marriage prospects.
But a prominent lawyer representing a half dozen former yeshiva students who say in a civil lawsuit that they were sexually abused by a teacher in Borough Park, Brooklyn, had Mr. Hikind served with a subpoena this week, demanding that he surrender those files.
Mr. Hikind has refused. “I will go to jail for 10 years first,” he said on Wednesday.
The legal conflict has revealed a deep tension within the Orthodox community that has been reported in the Jewish weekly press, and has been the almost exclusive topic of discussion on some Orthodox Jewish Web sites like http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/ and http://theunorthodoxjew.blogspot.com/ in the months since Mr. Hikind brought up sexual abuse.
“I’ve been shocked and overwhelmed at the magnitude of the problem,” said Mr. Hikind, an Orthodox Jew and a Democrat who represents the predominantly Orthodox community of Borough Park.
The victims have come to his office in a steady stream to tell their stories, he said. “Abusive teachers and rabbis in the schools,” he said. “Pedophiles on the streets. Incest in the home.”
Michael G. Dowd, the lawyer who had Mr. Hikind served with the subpoena, has been a leading advocate for plaintiffs who say they were abused by Roman Catholic priests. He represents six men who say they were abused by Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, a teacher at Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn. Rabbi Kolko, who was charged with sexual abuse in 2006, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and has left the school.
Mr. Dowd’s subpoena demands that the assemblyman turn over not just complaints that Mr. Hikind may have received against Rabbi Kolko, but “any and all reports of sexual abuse at any yeshiva and/or by any rabbi or employee of a yeshiva in New York City.” Mr. Dowd said they were crucial to proving his clients’ contention that sexual abuse was commonplace and routinely covered up by administrators in yeshivas.
He described Mr. Hikind’s refusal as “misguided.” While he said that he planned to have the subpoena enforced, he also said that he understood the reluctance to cross the powers that be in the Orthodox community. “The lead rabbis have the kind of power to shut people up that the Catholic Church had 50, 60 years ago,” he said.
Mr. Hikind said that every complaint he received was in complete confidence, with the understanding that “under no circumstances would their names be known in the community.”
“There is no way in the world, when people have come to me and spilled their hearts out to me, and shared the most intimate and private things with me, hoping I will do something to address the larger, overall issue, that I would ever betray their trust,” he said.
Mr. Hikind said he was responding to talk in the community about unreported sex abuse when he decided to devote three shows in a row to the topic on his weekly radio program, which is broadcast Saturday nights on WMCA-AM (570). The response was immediate and broad, coming not only from Brooklyn but from upstate New York and New Jersey as well.
He has been trying to enlist leaders of the Borough Park community to help deal with the problem, with mixed success. “There is a cultural taboo about this kind of thing, and especially about going to secular authorities with sexual abuse issues,” he said.
In September, a clinical psychologist who initially agreed to head a task force on the issue, Rabbi Benzion Twerski, resigned after a week. In a letter to a Jewish weekly newspaper, he said he left under pressure brought by his children, who told him they were made to feel “shamed” by his participation.
Mr. Hikind said that of all the people who said they had been victims, “99 percent would not go to the police under any circumstances — that is just the reality.”
But Joel Engelman, 23, who grew up in the Orthodox community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and who helped found a group of victims called Survivors for Justice, said that while “well-intentioned,” Mr. Hikind had a classic misunderstanding about sexual predators that is embedded in insular communities like the Catholic priesthood or the Orthodox world. “The community cannot police itself,” he said. “This has been shown again and again.”
In his own case, Mr. Engelman said, a complaint he brought to the attention of administrators at the United Talmudical Academy against a teacher who sexually violated him when he was 8 years old led to the teacher’s brief suspension and subsequent reinstatement. Mr. Engelman has since brought a civil suit against the teacher and the school.
Prof. Marci Hamilton, a visiting professor at the Yeshiva University School of Law and an expert in sexual abuse by religious leaders, said Mr. Hikind’s refusal to turn over the names of alleged predators, if not his entire case file, was “outrageous.”
She said that Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, “should already have convened a grand jury” to investigate.
Jerry Schmetterer, Mr. Hynes’s spokesman, said, “If someone has information about a sex crime, he or she should bring that information to our sex crimes unit, and we will investigate what needs to be investigated.”
A very important message from the mother of a victim at the hands of a Satmar mechanech:
Perhaps by now you've all seen the Jewish Week article describing Dov's subpoena by Attorney Dowd in re to the T/T case. Lest Dov become a MARTYR/HERO to the cause, I'd like to share with you my experience with him in reference to my son's (Joel Engelman) case.
To refresh your memories, Dov Hikind, on his radio program Motzei Shabbos, August 2nd, upon hearing from me Joel's story of molestation by his Menahel in Satmar at 8 1/2, the failed lie detector test of the Menahel, now Rebbi, and the subsequent firing of this pedophile (but only until Joel's statute of limitations ran out) then rehiring him in the summer as Menahel/Rebbi in Satmar Bungalows, declared loudly and vehemently "I PROMISE THIS REBBI WILL NOT BE BACK IN SEPTEMBER. IF I HAVE TO I WILL HOLD A PRESS CONVERENCE IN FRONT OF THE SCHOOL".
Remember also the article in the Jewish Week: "Second Victim Comes Forward......." to Dov - the father of the 19 yr old victim of the same Rebbi, now publicly known as Avrohom Reichman, who came to Dov with his son's story of molestation by this same Rebbi?
Remember also Dov's eloquent speech to us at the conference on Sept 21st at Young Israel?
Dov was also privy to the new discovery of a molestation incident with this same Rebbi last year - repeat, last year - not 13 years ago. At the conference I gave some of you the details of of an 8 yr old boy whom Reichman found standing in the school hallway because his "English" teacher had punished him. Reichman took the child into an unoccupied room (not an empty classroom, an unused room) placed the child on his lap, removed the child's belt and gave him 2 slaps with the belt. When this boy found out at the beginning of Sept that Reichman would be his Rebbi for the new zman (after Succos) he began crying and begging his mother and told her how he feared Reichman. Immediately the mother called the school, and at first they were horrifed, then called her back to say her son would not have to be in Reichman's class. She insisted that Reichman was unfit to be any child's Rebbi, but they would not agree, saying only that they were having meetings........
In view of all of the above, on Oct 6th Dov Hikind met with 2 representatives of Satmar: David Niederman and Shulem Deutsch. It was everyone's understanding that Dov would let Satmar know in no uncertain terms that Reichman must leave - children were at terrible risk from this sneaky, insiduous pedophile even now.
To my shock and horror, Dov came away from the meeting completely neutralized! Nay, not neutral - he is actually helping Satmar cover up and keep Reichman in the system! He said to me "Well, I know Niederman for 25 years......(I guess they need each other politically) .....need I say more?????
So no, Dov Hikind is no hero! In my book he is an accomplice, because at the very least, if he was not successful in getting Satmar to remove Reichman, it was his great responsibility to innocent children, to have let the parents, who are being kept in the dark by the school, know that Reichman is a great danger to all children in the school, even those not in his classroom as was the 8 year old made to stand in the hallway. Instead Dov helps Satmar cover up for the school!
As fellow participants in the conference, I ask you, can we just ignore this outrageous cover-up by one who represents himself as the champion of the cause?
This is about "Lo Saamod al Dam Reiacha". The plain and simple truth is that Reichman is a real and known danger to the children, and all adults, especially those committed to protecting them, cannot stand idly by and do nothing. Hikind knows how real the danger is, but he's given in to the machinations of Satmar who want to keep Reichman in the system at all costs. When did Dov sell his soul to the devil? This was a test for him - it was the first Moissed he met with - he had the most damning information - and he simply folded. Because he's buddies with Niederman for 25 years? We cannot just sit idly by and wait - or we are all as guilty as the people we condemn.
Rabbi Nachum Rosenberg, Part 1
Rabbi Nachum Rosenberg is an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse/assault. In this part Rabbi Rosenberg repeated the speech he gave at an event Cardozo Law School.
- It is unfortunate that it has come to this. It is a big darn shame it has come to this. It is very hurtful that it has come to this. But yet, IT HAS COME TO THIS. It has come at the price of a GREAT CHILUL HASHEM. It has come to Hashem having to allow his holy name to be DESECRATED so that his CHILDREN remain SAFE. Shame on all those responsible for enabling and permitting Hashem's name to be desecrated! When you save children you save the future. You save the future you save generations. You save generations you save lives. You save lives you have saved the world!!!!!!!