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"It is impossible that an Orthodox Chassidic person would even speak to a female, much less touch her."
- Two Rabbis Are Charged In Sexual Abuse on a Plane (06/02/1995)
- Grand jury to hear sexual misconduct case involving rabbis (06/06/1995)
- Officials Seize Records Of Jewish Charity Group (11/20/1996)
- Rabbi Made Threats In Rape Case: Probers (05/14/1999)
- Rabbi charged with tampering: State police liaison dismisses misdemeanor as pure garbage (05/15/1999)
- Brooklyn Rabbi Charged With Witness Tampering (05/16/1999)
- Rabbi on state police payroll (05/27/1999)
- A prominent Hasidic rabbi has been charged with making death threats (06/23/1999)
- Rabbi Is Charged With Threatening a Witness in a Rape Case (06/23/1999)
- Rabbi adviser to State Police indicted (06/24/1999)
- N.Y. rabbi accused of death threats (07/09/1999)
- Rabbi's Lawyers Charged, TOO, Intimidation Case (07/14/1999)
- Rabbi's Lawyer Expects to Face Charges in Death Threat Case (07/14/1999)
- 2 Lawyers Join 2 Rabbis Accused of Tampering (07/15/1999)
- Lawyers charged in probe of rabbis (08/06/1999)
- Rabbi Is Acquitted In Death Threat Case (03/07/2000)
- Da & Staff Draw Fire From Rabbis (03/08/2000)
- Rabbis' Ruling May Nix Bid To Indict Suspect in Kid-Sex Rap (03/11/2000)
- Orthodox Jews, Angered Over Recent Cases, Up in Arms Against Brooklyn D.A. (03/15/2000)
- Brooklyn rabbi acquitted (03/16/2000)
- Rabbi Bernard Freilich on Incest (02/18/2003)
- Silence of the Lamb (07/25/2006)
- Brooklyn, NY - Rabbi Bernard Freilich Hugs DA Charles Hynes Who Prosecuted Him (05/01/2007)
- Albany, NY - Rabbi Bernard Freilich Honoring Fallen Troopers (05/20/2007)
- New York State Police Superintendent Visits Satmar Community (06/08/2010)
- Rabbi wearing a badge not a police officer (03/07/2011)
Rabbi charged with tampering: State police liaison dismisses misdemeanor as pure garbage
By Kristen Schweizer and Oliver Mackson
Assoicated Press - May 15, 1999
BROOKLYN -- A rabbi employed by State Police as a liaison to the Orthodox community was charged Thursday with threatening a rape/incest victim not to testify against her father. Rabbi Bernard Freilich, who earns $76,000 a year as a special assistant to State Police Superintendent James McMahon, was charged with witness tampering, a misdemeanor. Freilich has worked since 1995 as a State Police liaison. Though he is based in Borough Park, Freilich spends much of his time working with local police and Hasidic communities in the Hudson Valley.
His arrest Thursday happened two weeks after Freilich was asked by the Monticello ã€“re chief to help with an investigation into three ã€“res at a Kiamesha yeshiva. The ã€“re chief branded the ã€“res arsons. Freilich told The Times Herald-Record it was not arson, but religious bondaries. Thursday afternoon in Brooklyn, Freilich turned himself in to police and was subsequently charged with witness tampering, said Detective Joe Pentangelo, a spokesman with the New York City Police Department.
Following his arrest, Freilich was relieved of his official duties and suspended without pay by the State Police "until the matter is resolved," said Lt. Jamie Mills, a State Police spokeswoman. Though he works for the State Police, Freilich's salary is paid by the New York State Health Department, for reasons that were unclear yesterday. In the past, Freilich has helped State Police deal with secular and religious matters in several communities, including the Orange County Village of Kiryas Joel. The village is composed almost entirely of Satmar Hasidic Jews.
He has conducted seminars for new troopers in Monroe, explaining some of the more esoteric points of life in the insular community. The village has been the scene of factional feuding, which at times has turned violent. State Police patrol the village, and they often encounter a language barrier with the Yiddish-speaking Hasidim. "It's not that some communities are more sensitive than others - but where customs are involved, there needs to be understanding," the rabbi said in a 1995 interview with The Times Herald-Record. “There should be the same respect for the Muslim community, for every community."
Mills said one of Freilich's duties with both departments is as a “spiritual adviser." Prior to his arrest, Freilich was identified by a 22-year-old woman and her husband as the man who threatened both of them if the woman testified in court, Pentangelo said. On April 25, Freilich and two others were charged with threatening the woman, he said. The alleged rape happened in February.
The Daily News reported yesterday that Freilich went to the woman's home and warned her that if she testifed against her father in the case "she would end up in the cemetery." Freilich allegedly threatened the woman's husband the next day. The woman's father was charged Feb. 28 with first-degree rape, incest, sex abuse and harassment. He was arrested again on April 22 for witness tampering and criminal contempt - the father had violated an order of protection by pounding on his daughter's door yelling, “If you do not cancel your police report, this is your last day in this world,“ according to court records. Freilich told the Daily News the charges were ã€“pure garbage.“
“There is no reason for me to be arrested,“ he said. Freilich has given invaluable help to the State Police in Kiryas Joel, said Senior Investigator John Van Der Molen, the supervisor of investigators at the State Police Monroe barracks. Because of the communityã€“s insularity, victims - and witnesses - of crimes in Kiryas Joel are sometimes difficult to locate and interview.
“A lot of times, the Hasidic people are reluctant to talk to authorities, and he's the go-between that I'll make the arrangements,“ Van Der Molen said. “If we have reluctant witnesses, he draws them out and gets them to us.“
Freilich also translates for troopers from Yiddish. “He has a lot of power and respect in the community, Van Der Molen said. My dealings with him in Monroe have been very positive. He's been a great assistance, numerous times, with investigations going on there. I've never had any bad dealings with the guy.
Grand jury to hear sexual misconduct case involving rabbis
By William K. Rashbaum
New York Daily News - Friday, May 14, 1999
A politically connected Brooklyn rabbi was charged yesterday with threatening an alleged rape-incest victim with death if she testified against her father, authorities said.
Police charged Bernard Freilich, who holds posts with the state police and Health Department, with misdemeanor witness tampering. Sources said prosecutors will present the case to a grand jury and seek felony charges.
The $76,000-a-year special assistant to state police Superintendent James McMahon went to the alleged victim's home April 25 and warned that if she testified, "she would end up in the cemetery," authorities said.
Freilich, a prominent Hasidic rabbi in Borough Park, threatened her husband the next day, authorities said.
The state police said in a statement that Freilich had been suspended without pay and relieved of his duties, which "included being a spiritual adviser to the state police and the Health Department."
By OLIVER MACKSON
Record OnLine - June 24, 1999
NEW YORK – A Brooklyn rabbi who serves as a $76,000-a-year "spiritual adviser" to the State Police was indicted Tuesday on felony charges of tampering with and intimidating a witness.
A Brooklyn grand jury handed up the indictment of Rabbi Bernard Freilich, 47, of Borough Park, a month after he was first charged with threatening a rape victim of the consequences if she testified against her father, the suspect.
Freilich, a leader in the Hasidic Jewish community in Borough Park, is accused of telling the 22-year-old woman that he would "teach her a lesson and send her to the cemetery" if she testified against her father.
The indictment won't have any effect on Freilich's State Police job, state officials said. He has been suspended without pay since his arrest last month.
"He continues on suspension until the criminal matter is resolved," said Lt. Jamie Mills, a State Police spokeswoman.
Although he is based in Borough Park, Freilich has spent much of his time since he was hired in 1975 working as a liaison between police and Hasidic communities in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, including the Orange County Village of Kiryas Joel.
No other religious or ethnic group has a similar intermediary on the state payroll, a fact that troubles three local members of the state Assembly.
In interviews with The Record last month, Tom Kirwan, R-C-Newburgh, said the job was "obviously a payoff. I think it's outrageous that we do that." Kirwan is a retired member of the State Police.
Reps. Nancy Calhoun, R-C-Blooming Grove and Jake Gunther, D-C-Forestburgh, also questioned whether the position should exist.
It was first established in 1984 by then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, with the title of special assistant to the State Police superintendent.
Neither Pataki or Cuomo responded last month to numerous requests by The Record to discuss the post. Calls yesterday to Pataki's office were referred to Caroline Quartoraro, a spokeswoman for Katherine Lapp, the state's director of criminal justice.
"I don't think we're going to respond to Tom Kirwan," Quartoraro said yesterday.
"Most large police departments have somebody who's a chaplain. In that respect, the State Police having a chaplain is just like, say, an Army chaplain or any other police department having a chaplain," Quartoraro said.
Kenny Jones, secretary-treasurer of the State Police Investigators Association, said the 900 members of his union don't consider Freilich a spiritual adviser.
"I would say the vast majority of them, 80 percent or more, are Christian. I can't imagine anything more offensive than to say that one person is a spiritual leader to all members. I am sure I don't have one Hasidic member," Jones said yesterday. "The rabbi, the so-called spiritual adviser, is not the spiritual adviser for his own community. He's a political operative."
By William K. Rashbaum and Jerry Capeci
Two politically connected Brooklyn lawyers have been charged with conspiring with a prominent Hasidic rabbi to intimidate an incest-rape victim from testifying against her father, sources said yesterday.
George Meissner and Richard Finkel are expected to surrender today and will be arraigned in Brooklyn on charges they conspired with Rabbi Bernard Freilich, who was arrested on witness-tampering charges May 13, sources said.
Neither of the two lawyers returned calls seeking comment yesterday.
Meissner and Finkel represented the rabbi, who allegedly threatened the woman with death if she testified.
Charges against Freilich, who is now represented by Peter Schlam, were upraded last month from misdemeanor to felony.
Freilich and Pinchas Shor, another rabbi charged with the same crimes, pleaded not guilty yesterday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Betsy Barros. Both were released on their own recognizance.
Shor showed up with scores of supporters, many who said they would be alibi witnesses.
"It never happened," Shor said. "I never threatened anyone. I help people, I don't threaten people."
Shor is charged with threatening the woman with injury if she testified.
Freilich, who holds a $76,000 state job with the state police and the Health Department, declined to comment.
"The indictment against Rabbi Freilich is without merit, and he will be vindicated," Schlam said.
He added that Freilich has passed a lie-detector test, and has offered to take another one administered by prosecutors an offer that has been declined, Schlam said.
Meissner is a fixture in Brooklyn Democratic politics, having served as a district leader in the 1970s, when he had ties to then-Brooklyn Democratic boss Meade Esposito. He now has an active criminal-law practice in Brooklyn's Orthodox community and has been involved in several high-profile cases.
Rabbi's Lawyer Expects to Face Charges in Death Threat Case
2 Lawyers Join 2 Rabbis Accused of Tampering
By Bob Liff
New York Daily News - Wednesday, March 08, 2000
Leaders of Brooklyn's Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities lashed out at District Attorney Charles Hynes yesterday, one day after Borough Park Rabbi Bernard Freilich was acquitted on charges of witness tampering.
"This was a bunch of hatred, anti-Semitism, pure politics without a penny of merit," Rabbi Leib Glanz, a leader in Williamsburg's Satmar Hasidim, said of Hynes' decision to bring the case against Freilich. "He should investigate everyone in his office who brought this case."
Freilich, 48, was acquitted on charges he threatened a couple in an attempt to get them to drop sexual abuse charges against the wife's father. His indictment last year sent shock waves through Borough Park, where Freilich serves as a key liaison with political leaders as well as the city police and is a special assistant to the State Police.
Five other men, including the father of the alleged sexual abuse victim and two prominent lawyers, also face witness tampering charges in cases which appear to be undercut by Freilich's acquittal.
Rabbis' Ruling May Nix Bid To Indict Suspect in Kid-Sex Rap
by Al Guart
New York Post, Saturday, March 11, 2000
The panel, reportedly headed by Manhattan Rabbi David Feinstein and two rabbis from Brooklyn and two from upstate Monsey, cleared Bobover Rabbi Solomon Hafner on Thursday evening of any wrongdoing, sources said.
Hafner, 40, was charged last January with sexually abusing a developmentally disabled boy. A grand jury is hearing evidence in the case.
Leading Bobover Rabbi Chaim Tauber was caught on tape yesterday discussing the panel's ruling and predicting it might have an impact on Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes' grand-jury probe of the charges.
"They came out with a resolution that Rabbi Hafner is clean as a whistle," Tauber said on a tape reviewed by the Post.
Asked about the effect the ruling would have on potential witnesses, Tauber said, "They have nothing to cooperate with. They have nothing to say.
There is no one coming forward to blame."
Tauber could not be reached yesterday. His wife confirmed such a conversation took place but was surprised it had been taped.
The ruling of a Beit Din -- a rabbinical court -- holds sway over members of Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities, even more than secular authorities.
It is also seen by some as a means of trying to influence Hynes, who has been under fire from parts of the Jewish community for charging another rabbi with witness-tampering.
Last week, Hynes' office lost the case against Bernard Freilich, who was charged with threatening a couple to drop sexual-abuse charges.
"My concern is that actions like this might put a damper on rabbis and others in the community from coming forward with allegations such as this," said lawyer Michael Lesher, who revealed the rabbinical court's ruling to The Post.
"I would like to know what evidence they had and what significance this is supposed to have while a grand jury is pending," Lesher said.
"I am not at liberty to talk about this," Rabbi Feinstein said.
Orthodox Jews, Angered Over Recent Cases, Up in Arms Against Brooklyn D.A. - Hynes and His `Haman'
by Rebecca Segall
Village Voice - March 15 - 21, 2000
Brooklyn rabbi acquitted
JTA - March 16, 2000
NEW YORK (JTA) -- A leading rabbi in Brooklyn was acquitted of having made death threats against a woman who had accused her father of rape.
Five witnesses still face witness-tampering charges in the case in which Rabbi Bernard Freilich was found innocent. The woman's father still must stand trial on the rape charges.
Silence of the Lam
by Kristen Lombardi
Village Voice - July 25th, 2006
Accused of sexually abusing young boys, a Brooklyn rabbi lit for Israel 22 years ago. Now one alleged victim wants him brought back for trial.
Out of the shadows: Abe asked the Brooklyn D.A. to reopen the case against Rabbi Mondrowitz.
Abe vividly remembers that wall. The "bragging wall," as he's come to call it, was crammed with certificates and diplomas. He remembers fixating on that wall as the Hasidic psychologist advised him on how to be a good boy. He fixated on it, too, when the psychologist sat beside him, the man's hand shoved down his pants, stroking Abe's genitals.
Abe was eight years old, the defiant son of a devout Orthodox Jewish family who was sent to the child psychologist in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Every Sunday for four months in 1984, he'd go for counseling in the modest house on 60th Street. Sessions started with talk of his behaviorâ€”his mischief at home, his disobedience at yeshiva. Goals were set, rewards promised. Then, Abe alleges, the psycho- logist's hand would be in his underwear.
"He would fondle and play with my genitals," says Abe, now a thirtyish businessman not willing to publish his last name. For this former Borough Park resident, whose Orthodox faith taught him to revere elders, the encounters were devastating. "I felt very odd, ashamed. I didn't know what to think."
Abe hid the abuse for two decades, not telling a soul, yearning to get on with life. Until, in May, he discovered what had happened to the man he claims molested him: He got away.
That child psychologist was Avrohom Mondrowitz, Abe says, the same one charged with sexually abusing four Brooklyn boys in February 1985. Once a popular radio host whose Orthodox audience had known him as "Rabbi," Mondrowitz skipped town before police could arrest him. He surfaced later in Israel, where he's lived for two decades. (Mondrowitz, now 58 and reportedly in Jerusalem, could not be reached for comment.)
Abe isn't one of those four boys. He stopped his sessions in the summer of 1984, never to see Mondrowitz again. All these years, he's had no idea his alleged abuser was indicted for molesting kids, on charges that included sodomy. Abe learned of the outstanding case from a mention in a May 22 New York article about an ultra-Orthodox rabbi accused of sexual abuse.
Seeing the name in print left Abe stunned. He went online, discovering postings about the self-styled rabbi on sites for Jewish survivors of sexual abuse. Reeling, he contacted an attorney. And last month, he identified himself as a victim to the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.
Explains Abe, "I could tell this guy was guilty as heck and I had to do something. He needs to be brought to justice."
The D.A.'s office confirms that Abe appeared at its Jay Street headquarters in June. Prosecutors interviewed him and recorded his complaints. Hynes can do little about the allegations because they fall outside the five-year statute of limitations for sex offenses, according to Rhonnie Jaus, chief of the sex crimes bureau. All Hynes can do is try to use Abe's testimony as supporting evidence against Mondrowitz at trial.
Jaus maintains that Hynes is still pursuing the 1985 case. The indictment against Mondrowitz is pending; her bureau remains in touch with the original victims, now in their thirties.
"We stand ready, willing, and able to prosecute him for his heinous crimes," Jaus states. "If he returns to this country, we would arrest him. We would prosecute him. We would do everything we could to achieve justice in this case."
But there's a lot more Hynes could be doing to achieve justice, it seems. The one person who can reopen the push for extradition is the Brooklyn D.A.; he calls the Justice Department, Justice calls State, State calls Israel. That's how it works. Michael Lesher, the New Jersey attorney who represents Abe, believes Hynes could force Mondrowitz to stand trial, if only Hynes would take a more aggressive stance. Past efforts to extradite Mondrowitz failed only because of a technicality. Under a 1962 treaty, the United States and Israel have agreed "reciprocally to deliver up persons found in its territory who have been charged with . . . offenses mentioned [and] committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the other." This U.S.-Israel extradition treaty lists 31 crimes, including rape. You might think the sodomy charges against Mondrowitz would fit that category. In 1985, though, Israeli law defined rape narrowly as "having sexual intercourse with a woman without her free consent." Oral and anal raping of boysâ€”among the acts of which Mondrowitz is accusedâ€”weren't crimes by Israeli standards.
Today, that loophole has been all but closed. Israel has amended its rape law to recognize males as potential victims, making the act of forcible sodomy a crime punishable by 20 years in prison. Lesher argues the change opens the door to revisit the case. "In theory," he says, "there's no reason for Hynes not to request extradition."
Extradition lawyers second his opinion. Richard Bierschbach, who teaches criminal law at Cardozo Law School and who has worked on such cases, tells the Voice, "I think he would be extraditable now." Changing the law, he says, effectively changed the treaty. Courts have ruled that modifications to treaties can be applied retroactively, without violating a fugitive's due-process rights. "You can say with a fair degree of confidence that sodomy is now an extraditable offense."
Even Mondrowitz's attorney suggests that extradition isn't out of the question. Reached in his Tel Aviv office, David Ofek says he didn't believe the charges against his client when defending him in the 1980s, and he doesn't now, calling them "all lies." Mondrowitz has not been charged with a crime in Israel. Nor has anyone accused him of child molestation there. In a heavy accent, Ofek adds, "I found him to be a marvelous and gentle person, and I don't think he's touched a child."
Still, Ofek acknowledges that sodomy is a crime equal to rape in Israelâ€”one that, in general, is extraditable. "It's a very serious crime," he says, "and we don't like people like that."
So does that mean his client could be extradited? "After 20 years," he tells the Voice, "try to do it."
Mondrowitz was a celebrity to start, a Hasidic Frasier of sorts, hosting the call-in program Life Is for Living at the now defunct WNYN radio station, doling out advice over the airwaves. But in a five-page criminal indictment, prosecutors painted Mondro-witz as an insatiable abuser who allegedly preyed on four boys, ages nine to 15, over four years. The 13 counts against him include eight of sexual abuse in the first degree, five of sodomy in the first degree.
The indictment may tell only a fraction of the story, says Sal Catalfumo. Now retired, he was the main sex crimes detective who investigated Mondrowitz for four months beginning in November 1984, when the Brooklyn South precinct got an anonymous tip about a rabbi. "There were a lot of kids and a lot of allegations," he says.
Catalfumo identified about a dozen victims to then Brooklyn D.A. Elizabeth Holtzman, whose office pressed charges on the four strongest cases. He had interviewed dozens more, he says. Initially, investigators had suspected Mondrowitz singled out Orthodox Jewish children who attended his special-education class at a Foster Avenue yeshiva or his child-counseling practice on 60th Street. Catalfumo says he ended up discovering victims from Italian Catholic families living on the same street as Mondrowitz did. Some served as altar boys at a nearby church. Others played with his seven kids. Two were prepubescent sons of Catalfumo's former high school classmate.
"Children told me and my partner that he would be molesting them in one room while their parents would be waiting in the next," Catalfumo recalls. When police searched the office, he says, they uncovered child pornography in the desk drawers.
By the time police had drawn up an arrest warrant, in December 1984, Catalfumo says, "The guy was gone. He escaped, and he's never had to face the music." All these years later, the former investigator cannot quite put this unresolved case behind him. He cannot quite forget about those, like Abe, who claim to be victims.
Confides Catalfumo, "Personally, I'd like to catch this guy. He shouldn't be able to evade prosecution for the rest of his life."
The Mondrowitz case has also haunted Abe's attorney. Lesher's made a lonely campaign out of researching it, filing freedom-of-information requests to obtain classified records. Beginning in 1999, he spent two years collecting documents from the U.S. State and Justice departments chronicling the feds' battle to extradite the fugitiveâ€”a battle that stops in 1993, courtesy of Hynes. Lesher shared his files with the Voice for this article. (The Justice Department declined to comment on the case, referring questions to State; its spokesperson refused even to speak generally about the U.S.-Israel extradition treaty.)
The paper trail starts just as the indictment was about to come down. In January 1985, according to the records, D.A. Holtzman's office began pushing the feds to bring Mondrowitz back to Brooklyn for trial, calling the Justice Department. Two months later, her office made a formal request for "the provisional arrest in Israel of Avrohom Mondrowitz." Prosecutors sent along materials for extradition in September, and kept in contact with their federal counterparts for the next two years. Internal records suggest that Washington officials felt substantial pressure from Holtzman.
"Natives of Brooklyn are becoming restless," reads one February 1986 memorandum, "and we are receiving calls from Kings County District Attorney's Office."
Another cable, dated November 1986, reports that the Israeli official on the case "has from time to time been in telephonic communication directly with the prosecutor's office in New York City to discuss the matter."
Yet another, from March 1987: "Relay the gist of this development to prosecuting attorney handling this case [who] had phoned on February 17."
Now a Manhattan attorney specializing in government relations, Holtzman declined to discuss her office's efforts to seek extradition. "I can tell you that we didn't sit on cases like that in my office," she says.
Still, these early requests were stymied. As early as 1985, Israeli officials had informed the U.S. that rape, under Israeli law, didn't cover sodomy. "The Mondrowitz case as presented cannot be acted upon under the terms of the existing U.S.-Israel extradition agreement," states an April 1985 cable.
Federal officials got creative and asked Israel to consider expelling Mondrowitz, then an American citizen on a tourist visa. For years, the case sat in a kind of legal limbo.
And then, in February 1987, after a change in leadership, the Israeli Interior Ministry ordered Mondrowitz deported to Brooklyn. Ofek appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court, asking for a stay and seeking access to the U.S. extradition package. It included four affidavits from John Doe victims. It also included a letter, purportedly written by a Borough Park social worker, charging that Mondrowitz had infected 28 boys with HIV/AIDS. The claim would be stunning now; back then, it was made more so by the fact that so many people didn't understand the virus.
"When you say, 20 years ago, that the man had infected children with AIDS, it means that the man would kill children," Ofek says. There were no drug cocktails in 1987. Not many hospitals in Israel could administer an HIV test. Eventually, Ofek says, his client found one. The results came back negative. The court threw out the deportation order. "The United States wanted extradition and the Israeli government wanted to deport himâ€”and I stopped it."
To hear Hynes's office tell it now, extradition represents the one barrier to prosecuting this case. Just last May, Jaus says, her bureau reviewed its files and consulted with Israeli legal authorities, as well as federal officials. The verdict? "Under the current treaty," she reports, "he is charged with a non- extraditable offense."
Or not. In 1988, Israel amended its rape law to cover the act of homosexual rape. Internal federal letters make note of the change, urging a second look at extradition.
"An amendment to the Israeli penal code . . . presents us, we believe, with an opportunity to reopen the extradition case of Avrohom Mondrowitz," reads one March 1988 telegram from the American embassy in Tel Aviv to the State Department in Washington, D.C.
Interestingly, no records show that federal officials called Holtzman to relay the news. And there is nothing to suggest that her office was keeping abreast of the developments, or even knew about the change. Just when the U.S. may have gained proper grounds to extradite Mondrowitz, the paper trail fades.
But if Holtzman missed a key opportunity, Hynes has apparently plain sat on the case. He became the D.A. in 1990. In the federal file, there is no record of any activity from Hynes on the matter until 1993, when Justice officials called his office. That's when he all but dropped the caseâ€”approving a decision to end extradition attempts for good.
As one September 1993 Justice Department letter details, prosecutors "contacted our office and advised that they would not be pursuing the case any further at this time."
"Hynes has never been hot to extradite Mondrowitz," charges Lesher. Why would Hynes allow a fugitive to evade prosecution through an old loophole, especially when a new victim has come forward to testify? "It's a compelling argument," observes Mary- ellen Fullerton, who teaches international criminal law at Brooklyn Law School. "If I were the Brooklyn D.A., I'd consider it."
Bruce Zagaris, an extradition lawyer in Washington, D.C., notes that the U.S.-Israel treaty is being updated, and that the new protocol would make it even easier to deliver up someone, like Mondrowitz, whose alleged acts haven't fallen neatly into the list of specified offenses. The protocol would replace the list with a provision defining any offense extraditable "as long as the crime is punishable by one year or more and as long as it's a crime in both countries."
So, Zagaris offers, "Yes, I'd say this guy is extraditable. And under this new protocol, there is even more of a chance that he could be."
At the very least, argues Bierschbach, the Cardozo professor, "you cannot flat-out say that he's not extraditable. You can make the argument, but it's weak."
Even so, Hynes spokesperson Jerry Schmetterer maintains, flatly: "After reviewing the files and consulting with authorities, our position remains that under the current treaty, Mondrowitz cannot be extradited. . . . He was charged with sodomy and the treaty has changed. It's our position this change is not retroactive."
Told that experts say otherwise, he snaps, "That's fine. You write your story. This is the position of the district attorney."
Maybe Hynes has his own reasons for not pushing extradition. In Brooklyn politics, the Orthodox ommunity can wield considerable influence. Political consultant Hank Sheinkopf explains, "They vote, and they vote in large numbers often." He estimates that the Orthodox population accounts for some 30 percent of the borough's electorate, from Williamsburg to Crown Heights, Borough Park, Flatbush, and Midwood. Especially in ultra-Orthodox areas, rabbis tend to pick candidates and congregants cast votes accordingly.
"The rabbis are very important because they tell their followers who to get behind," says Sheinkopf. For a politician, he says, that means "you have to play to them."
Hynes has worked hard to court the community over the years. In 1990, he became the first D.A. in the city to convene a Jewish advisory council, which kept leaders abreast of cases involving Jewish defen-dants or complainants. The council is now defunct, says Schmetterer, replaced by the office's full-time liaison to the Hasidic community, Henna White, herself a Lubavitcher. (He refused to let the Voice interview White for this article, saying, "It wouldn't be her place to talk about this case.") Hynes has been commended for launching such initiatives as Project Eden, a Hasidic-sanctioned program that reaches out to ultra-Orthodox victims of domestic violence.
Aaron Twerski, the dean of Hofstra Law School and a former council member, describes Hynes's relationship to the Orthodox community as "quite positive." He explains, "Hynes is a presence in the community. He's been responsive."
But Hynes has bumped up against the community before. The most dramatic example came in 1999, when the D.A.'s office charged a prominent Hasidic rabbi named Bernard Freilich with witness tampering and intimidation for allegedly making death threats against an Orthodox woman who was to testify in a sex-abuse case. The community reacted with fury, organizing demonstrations, accusing Hynes of anti-Semitism. Freilich wound up acquitted at a 2000 trial.
Lesher says the D.A. has a habit of backing down from prosecutions that Orthodox rabbinical leaders would rather handle themselves. He has researched two instances where the D.A. initiated criminal proceedings against accused Hasidic abusers, only to let them fizzle. In each, he notes, "it was community opposition that spelled the difference."
With Mondrowitz, the Orthodox community hasn't exactly clamored for justice. No one dared talk publicly about the scandal when it broke. Catalfumo says rabbis refused to answer questions, parents refused to file complaints. Even those who wanted to see Mondrowitz punishedâ€”or deadâ€”wouldn't cooperate with authorities, the detective says, for fear their kids would become tainted by a trial.
Catalfumo doubts the D.A. would do anything to upset the Orthodox community today, and he doubts the community would want to revisit the case. "Let's face it, I don't think they're interested in seeing this surface again," he says. Indeed, Orthodox rabbis and politicians who remember the Mondrowitz case declined to talk about it with the Voice. One Borough Park resident with ties to the same Hasidic sect as Mondrowitz offered this opinion: "Once a case has been put to sleep, it's best to leave it alone."
Twerski, of Hofstra, advocates "zero tolerance" in the community for sexual abuse. But when told about the newly vocal Mondrowitz victim and his desire to reopen the case, Twerski replies, "I don't know what to say about that. That's an old, old case and I'm not going to comment on it."
Jaus, for her part, bristles at the suggestion of special treatment. In 2000, her bureau got word from State officials that Mondrowitz was returning to the States. It contacted the original four victims. It had D.C. police ready to arrest him. He never showed up.
"If we heard this information again, we'd do the same thing," she states.
Those words offer little consolation to Abe. Sitting in the dining room at his attorney's suburban home, Abe hunches over the table, his arms across his chest, his eyes on his Blackberry, as he relays what he told prosecutors on June 7. How Mondrowitz had begun molesting him during a counseling session one day, and wound up making it routine. How the psychologist had even invited him upstairs, and fondled him there.
Abe had hoped his testimony would inspire Hynes to push for extradition, he says. "I came away with the realization that my experience is a footnote in a case the D.A. won't do anything about."
At least, Abe believes, not without incentive. So on June 24, he contacted an anonymous blogger known as Un-Orthodox Jew, who has posted controversial diatribes about sexual abuse and cover-up in the Hasidic world. Abe posted his own entry, writing:
"MONDROWITZ ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! Has anyone contacted you as being a victim of Avrohom Mondrowitz? . . . There is renewed interest in this case & . . . I am trying to find out if other victims have also recently come forward so that we can pool our resources & pressure the DA's office."
So far, he's received little response, though two Orthodox Jewish men who claim to be victims of Mondrowitz have contacted the Voice, expressing a desire to bring him back.
To Abe, it all seems so upside down the way Hynes didn't push for extradition in 1993, the way he won't now. That his alleged abuser can live in Israel, his whereabouts known, yet run around scot-free, seems almost as bad as the abuse.
As Abe confides, "That makes it seem like a big slap in the face by the D.A."
Vos Iz Neias - May 1, 2007
Brooklyn, NY - A source who attended a $1,000-a-head fundraiser last night at the Rose Castle in Williamsburg for Rep. Ed Towns witnessed a double-take moment when he spotted Hasidic Rabbi Bernard Freilich hugging the very man who prosecuted him in a death threat case in the 1990s - Kings County DA Charles Hynes.
Freilich was aquitted of felony charges of witness tampering in 2000. Hynes had accused him of making death threats against a young woman who accused her father of raping her, ostensibly in an effort to get her to drop the charges.
Hynes’prosecution of Freilich angered the Orthodox Jewish Community, which called for his removal after the rabbi was cleared.
The event for Towns was hosted by Satmar Rabbi Leib Glanz, who is Towns’ finance chair and executive director of the United Talmudical Academy, a nonprofit.
According to my source, the attendees includes: Two potential mayoral candidates (Weiner and Thompson), one potential comptroller candidate (Weprin), and at least one other Congressman (Meeks).
Mayor Bloomberg was touted on the invite to this event, but he didn’t show up. According to a Bloomberg aide, the mayor was never scheduled to attend. This discrepency is evidently the source of some disagreement in the Satmar community, and since I don’t know enough about it, I’m going to leave it at that.
Albany, NY - Rabbi Bernard Freilich Honoring Fallen Troopers
Vos Iz Neias - May 20, 2007
Albany, NY - The hard work and service of fallen, injured and active state troopers was recognized last week by Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Acting State Police Superintendent Preston Felton.
More than 50 honorees were recognized for bravery, investigative persistence, police education, traffic safety and community service during the New York State Police 31st Annual Awards Day Ceremonies and Memorial Service at the state police academy in Albany.
“The men and women of the New York State Police represent the best of what it means to be a New Yorker. They are devoted and dedicated to duty and the service of the public,” Spitzer said. “We owe them all our thanks, support, gratitude and respect.”
Families and friends gathered for a memorial service for the fallen troopers outside of the academy, featuring a live-fire salute and a helicopter flyover. Rabbi Bernard Freilich gave the benediction honoring the fallen troopers.
“Bless those who have fallen, so others can stand,” he said of the fallen troopers. “They are a beacon of light for all those assembled here today.” [Legislative Gazette]
Rabbi Freilich Confirmed this morning to VIN, that he gave the benediction, He also added that the new NY State Police Superintendent Preston Felton, is very appreciative, helpful, and understating to Jewish community’s issues.
Satmar News - June 8, 2010
Newly-appointed New York State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt visited Williamsburg last night, where he met with the Satmar Rebbe of Williamsburg, Rav Zalman Leib Teitelbaum Shlita.
The Superintendent had flown by chopper from Albany to Brooklyn – as he was honored by State Senator Eric Adams, at a gathering of many politicians and community leaders just prior to visiting Williamsburg. Senator Adams then accompanied the Superintendent on his visit to Williamsburg.
Upon his arrival at the home of the Satmar Rebbe, Superintendent Corbitt was greeted by the Rebbe and other community leaders, including Rabbi Sol Perelstein, vice-president of the Satmar congregation. Rabbi Bernard Freilich, special assistant to the Superintendent of the NY State Police, Rabbi Abe Friedman, Community Liaison to the NYPD, Rabbi Simcha Bernath, Rabbi Joel Gold Chaplain of Ulster County Sheriff’s Department, Rabbi Moshe David Niederman of United Jewish Org. and others, who congratulated Superintendent Corbitt on his appointment by Governor David Paterson and welcomed him to his new position as head of the New York State Police and its more than 7,000 sworn members and 1,000 civilian staff.
Superintendent Corbitt received a Bracha from the Rebbe, who wished him the best of luck and success in all future endeavors.
Rabbi wearing a badge not a police officer
By BRENDAN J. LYONS Senior Writer
Times Union - Monday, March 7, 2011
|Rabbi Bernard Freilich - Not a cop!|
|Bernard Freilich's Badge|
|Rabbi Bernard Freilich, Enabler to sex offenders|
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