Monday, March 21, 2005

The Ozzie Orbach story: how OHEL and Orthodox community leaders deal with allegations of sexual abuse of a child, protect the abuser at all costs

12 Comments:

At 7:48 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Pages 30-36 The Jewish Voice and Opinion March 2005

A 20-Year-Old Custody Battle Brings Charges of Abuse to the Orthodox Community: In Edgewater, a Mother Waits for Her Daughter To Come Home
By Rachel Bluth and Susan Rosenbluth

Almost 20 years ago, Dr. Amy Neustein of Edgewater, now 47, lost custody of her daughter, Child, and has not seen her only child since. In a new book due to be published this spring, Dr. Neustein and her co-author, attorney Michael Lesher of Passaic, detail the first major study of the problems mothers face at the hands of judges when reporting abuse in family courts. Renowned matrimonial attorney Raoul Felder wrote the book’s foreword. While no one denies that the reverse side of the coin exists and that some fathers have been falsely accused of abuse and suffer greatly as a result, Dr. Neustein has fought for nearly two decades to publicize the truth about her daughter’s case and others like it. She has devoted her professional training (she holds a Ph.D. in sociology) to exposing the maltreatment accorded to mothers who lose custody of their children as a result of reporting sex-abuse allegations against the children’s fathers. The book, which will be published by the University Press of New England, is entitled From Madness to Mutiny: Why Mothers Are Running from the Family Courts—and What Can Be Done about It.

Still Estranged

Now 24, Child Orbach is still estranged from her mother, her mother’s family, and, as far as Dr. Neustein knows, from the entire Orthodox-Jewish community. “She seems to have put distance between herself and everything connected with her childhood,” says Dr. Neustein. “Considering what was done to her childhood, I’m not really surprised. Why should she trust the Orthodox community she grew up in? At critical moments when the Orthodox community could have helped, it didn’t.” In fact, Dr. Neustein and her co-author believe mother and daughter were torn apart by powerful arms of the Brooklyn Orthodox community. Despite the supportive attention she has received over the years from a number of formidable politicians and officials, some of whom have noted publicly that she has been the victim of “a criminal conspiracy” between social workers, courts, and rabbis, nothing ever happened to help her case.

Orthodox Family

Dr. Neustein’s late father, Rabbi Abraham Neustein, was a prominent Orthodox educator and rav of the Jewish Center of Brighton Beach. Dr. Neustein, Mr. Lesher, and Dr. Neustein’s former husband, Dr. Ozzi Orbach, are also Orthodox Jews. One of Dr. Neustein’s goals in writing the book is to reach someone who may know Child Orbach and help the mother effect a reconciliation with her daughter. Ms. Orbach graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2002 and is now reported to be living in Hoboken. She has an unlisted number, but, discovering her address, her mother called the building, only to be told that the daughter has left instructions to ignore her mother’s calls. “I’m so tired of spending Pesach alone. I’d give anything to have a relationship with my child,” says Dr. Neustein. Equally important, she says, is the fact that cases like hers are still being adjudicated unfairly, especially in Brooklyn. “A federal investigation into Child’s case cannot come a moment too soon. After all, I am still receiving calls from mothers who are suffering at the hands of the same lawyer and judge who took Child from my home. These current cases clearly show that the crimes are ongoing and must be stopped once and for all,” she said.

Sole Custody

In 1983, Dr. Neustein divorced her husband, Dr. Orbach, an internist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in St. Albans. Although she says she had been severely abused during the marriage, at the time of their divorce, there was no dispute over custody. Child, then 3, remained with her mother. Although Dr. Orbach did not re-quest visitation rights, Dr. Neustein says she saw to it that he could visit Child whenever he wished. Three years later, however, during a visit between Child and her father at the Neusteins’ Ellenville, New York, summer house, Dr. Neustein’s mother, the late Shirley Neustein, witnessed an incident which she later testified about in court. “He [Orbach] was lying on the floor in the hallway with Child on top of his pelvic area,” said Shirley Neustein. “He was holding her wrists and gyrating back and forth. I immediately pulled Child off of his pelvis to find his pants were unzippered, and he was wet.” Dr. Neustein was not present when the incident occurred.

Strong Evidence

Child psychologist Anne Meltzer, who co-authored some of the guidelines on sex abuse used in New York courts, later interviewed the child and reported that there was “strong reason to believe Dr. Amy Neustein that Child had been sexually abused on more than one occasion by her father.” Child told Dr. Meltzer and a supervisor from the Brooklyn Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (BSPCC) that her father had abused her. To another psychologist, she expressed anxiety about being in his presence. BSPCC, however, filed charges in Brooklyn Family Court against both parents, claiming that Dr. Neustein had made a report that was “not totally true” – when in fact the report had come from her mother—and that Dr. Neustein had failed to protect Child from abuse, when in fact she had not been present at the time. According to Dr. Neustein, she has since learned from many matrimonial attorneys that the now-defunct BSPCC of-ten used such tactics to gain control over a mother in a case of alleged abuse.

Foster Care

At BSPCC’s urging, Brooklyn Family Court ordered both parents to undergo psychiatric and psychological testing. When Dr. Neustein missed an appointment with a BSPCC psychologist because she had gone instead to a hospital, suffering chest pains, the Family Court judge ordered Child removed from her mother’s home and placed in foster care. According to Dr. Neustein, the judge acted without giving her notice, even though Dr. Neustein had already rescheduled her appointment and Dr. Orbach had not yet been tested either. Dr. Neustein’s and Mr. Lesher’s research indicate there is no legal basis in the State of New York for removing a young child from her home under such circumstances, particularly since there was no evidence of any danger to Child from her mother or grandparents, who shared the house with her. “At the minimum, the removal of Child Neustein from her home violated the Constitution, our state statutes, decisions of our highest court, and decency,” wrote Jeremiah B. McKenna, former counsel to New York State’s Select Committee on Crime and Correction, in his 1987 report to then-State Senator Christopher Mega on this issue.

At Odds with the Community

To her surprise, Dr. Neustein discovered that her struggle to bring her daughter home pitted her against many figures in her own Orthodox-Jewish community. In his report on the case, Mr. McKenna noted that he learned the BSPCC had gained a reputation for assisting Orthodox-Jewish men in custody-related cases. Granted visiting privileges with Child at the offices of Ohel Children’s Home, which oversaw Child’s foster care, Dr. Neustein says she was astonished to hear Bracha Ingber, an Ohel social worker, tell the child that she had been removed from her mother’s home because “you lied about your father.” “Child had told everyone exactly the same thing, which was what my mother had seen with her own eyes. And here was this social worker telling her, right in front of me, that she was a liar,” says Dr. Neustein. Immediately afterwards, Child wrote a note and handed it to her mother. Written in a child’s scrawl, it read: “I am not lying. I want to go home.” Dr. Neustein has kept the note preserved to this day. “Ohel acted like judge and jury,” she says.

“Brainwashed”

Child was never returned to Dr. Neustein, who was accused of “brainwashing” her daughter into believing she had been abused. In a 1992 article about the case, published in the Manhattan-based Village Voice, reporter Sheila Weller pointed out that, long before the case went to trial, “an official from the Ohel foster care agency…threatened Neustein with the termination of her parental rights and [admitted] to having talked to Ohel’s attorney about putting the child up for adoption.”Ohel’s records, subpoenaed by Dr. Neustein’s attorney, confirmed that Ohel had discussed placing Child for adoption at one of its monthly staff meetings, despite the fact that Ohel had no legal power to proceed.

“What Do I Have To Do?”

Dr. Carmen Alonso, a board-certified child and adult psychologist chosen by Child’s law guardian, appointed by the court to protect the child’s rights, report-ed being asked by Child, “What do I have to do to get back to Mommy?” After examining Dr. Neustein, Dr. Alonso reported finding no mental-health issues and concluded that it was “unfair to make Child suffer by keeping her away from the only home she has ever known.” But Ohel and the family court had other plans. While Child’s visits with Dr. Neustein were riddled with restrictions, Dr. Orbach, though accused of abusing his daughter, was allowed overnight visits.
Another Incident

A few months after Child’s placement in foster care, her foster mother, Chaya Berger, reported her suspicion of a new incident of sexual abuse by Child’s father. Ohel was legally required to convey the foster mother’s report to New York’s Central Investigation Unit hotline, but, according to Dr. Neustein, the name of the investigator Ohel claimed to have contacted turned out to be fictitious. Dr. Neustein holds Ohel responsible for a great deal of the misfortune that befell her and her daughter. Dr. Sidney Fein, a psychiatrist who examined Child, testified in family court that the child termed her stay in Ohel’s foster care “miserable.”

A Relationship

Ohel does seem to have sided completely with Dr. Orbach, which Dr. Neustein feels is consistent with the agency’s practice of supporting men over women. In 1996, the Village Voice reported than an Ohel advisory board member, Susan Schulman, commented that she always deferred to rabbinic advice before making a child-abuse report, although she acknowledged that she “could be arrested” for doing so. Nevertheless Ohel is considered an Orthodox community bulwark which shares officials with many important Orthodox groups, including the National Council of Young Israel and the Orthodox Union. In 1990, Democratic NY State Sen. David Paterson, today the minority leader, said, “The more I read about [Dr. Neustein’s] case, the more I felt there was a relationship between Ohel, the BSPCC, and family court.”

Still Married

In late 1988, Brooklyn Family Court Judge Leon Deutsch awarded custody of Child, then 8, to her father, relying on the testimony of Dr. Arthur Green, a court-appointed psychiatrist who, according to Mr. Lesher, had gained a reputation for testifying against divorced mothers in custody disputes. Dr. Green testified that Dr. Neustein suffered from “circumscribed psychosis,” leading Judge Deutsch to label her as “paranoid delusional” and blame her for brainwashing Child into believing she had been abused. Dr. Neustein’s visitation with her child was limited to four hours per week and she was not permitted to bring Child into her own home. During the proceedings, which began in 1986, Dr. Orbach claimed he did not know he and Dr. Neustein were ever divorced, and his suit, therefore, was for divorce and custody of Child. When Dr. Neustein’s attorney countered that, three years earlier, Dr. Orbach had given her a get, a Jewish writ of divorce, that the two had not lived together for three years, and that they had each filed tax returns for the past three years as singles, Ohel’s lawyer objected and Judge Deutsch allowed the objection to stand. “Judge Deutsch did not find anything unusual in Orbach’s statement that he didn’t know he had been divorced for three years,” said Dr. Neustein.

Delay

Dr. Orbach based his claim on the fact that Dr. Neustein and her family delayed making the abuse allegations for a month after the incident, filing charges five days after he instituted his suit for divorce and custody. Dr. Neustein says charges were not filed against Dr. Orbach immediately because her father, the rabbi, did want to embarrass his family by publicly airing an issue that is so taboo in the Orthodox community. “Orbach’s visits were sporadic anyway, and, after he was found sexually abusing Child, my mother yelled at him to leave and never come back, and he didn’t argue,” says Dr. Neustein. One month later, however, Dr. Neustein says, she received in the Brooklyn home she shared with her parents and daughter, legal notification from Dr. Orbach that he was suing her for divorce and asking for custody of Child. “We assume he filed because he must have been worried that we would file and someone told him he would be better off against charges of abuse if he could show that he had gained custody,” says Dr. Neustein.

Easier Route

Mr. Lesher believes Dr. Orbach knew quite well that he had been divorced for three years, but rather than asking for a change in custody, which can be difficult, he decided to proceed as if it were a new divorce case and he was asking for custody. According to Dr. Neustein, at about the same time that she received notice that Dr. Orbach was suing her, her family began getting crank phone calls and windows were discovered broken. When Dr. Neustein’s mother went to the police to complain, she was asked if she had any idea what might have caused the disturbance. Mrs. Neustein then told the police about the abuse incident, and the police filed the official report about it. In court, Dr. Orbach also produced a tape recording of a conversation between himself and Dr. Neustein after the alleged abuse incident in which she said she wanted to forget about his new divorce proceedings, see if there could be a reconciliation between them, and even have another child together. Dr. Neustein says she spoke that way to her former husband because she feared he was “out of control” and she hoped she might be able to placate him even though, she says, she meant not a word of it. In court, Dr. Orbach alleged that Child had been coached into believing that she had been abused and that the Neusteins had fabricated the charge to prevent him from gaining custody of the child.

Interrelated Power

A few months after awarding Child to her father’s sole custody, Judge Deutsch was forced to resign based on an ethics grievance lodged against him by Mr. Paterson. Mr. Paterson said he acted because, during hearings he was holding on child abuse cases, Judge Deutsch’s law secretary, Steven Mostofsky, sat in “with the intention of intimidating mothers whose cases were before Judge Deutsch from testifying to the committee.” According to Mr. Lesher, Mr. Mostofsky sat on the board of the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush, was president of the Young Israel of Midwood, and, before that, had served as president of the Redwood synagogue in Brooklyn where Dr. Orbach was a regular congregant. According again to Mr. Lesher, Mr. Paterson’s hearings invited the fury of many others in the Brooklyn Orthodox community. In a June 1995 letter to the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Justice Department, Mr. Paterson alleged that he had been warned by an Orthodox state assemblyman not to hold the hearings and a Gentile NYC Council-woman told him that if he persisted, “the Orthodox-Jewish and Chassidic community would be coming after me, and that it would be unlikely that I would ever be elected to office again in New York City.” Asked about this state of affairs, a rabbi, who served as spiritual leader for the synagogue attended by Dr. Orbach, told the Village Voice that Ohel probably called the assemblyman and said, “Get Paterson off our back.”

Back Again

In 1989, a New York Daily News article accused Judge Deutsch of being “extremely weak on child sex abuse” and said that at least two mothers whose cases were before him had been driven to suicide. In 1990, Assemblyman (now Congressman) Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and NYC Councilwoman Susan Alter joined together to force Judge Deutsch from the bench. But, about three months later, he was back, having been appointed by the administrative judge in New York State to the matrimonial division of Brooklyn Supreme Court. He is still there. But BSPCC is gone. The city ended its contract with the agency after Mr. McKenna’s report was released. BSPCC’s lead attorney, Harvey Jacobs, moved from that agency to Ohel.

Provocative Behavior

In 1988, after hearing about Dr. Neustein’s plight, Rebbetzin Rachel Anolick, then living in Passaic, volunteered to supervise the mother’s visits with her daughter, allowing them to meet in her home rather than in an institution. Although Mrs. Anolick knew neither Dr. Neustein nor her daughter before this involvement, she says she has never been able to forget the child’s behavior both in her home and on the trips to and from her father’s house in Woodmere. “I was repeatedly surprised at Child’s sexually provocative behavior, which seemed to me very unusual for a girl her age, particularly one raised in an Orthodox-Jewish environment,” Mrs. Anolicklater wrote in a sworn affidavit. “For instance, Child was sitting on the couch in my living room with me, my children, and Waiting for Child’s grandfather. Child spread her legs and fondled her [genitals]…Child would dance in a sexually provocative way, thrusting out her hips and chest. To my surprise she informed me that her father had taught her this sort of dancing.” Ms. Anolick testified that Child would become “very stiff, her head went down,” when “going back again” to her father’s house after a visit with her mother.

Losing Weight

Also disturbing was the fact that Child was steadily losing weight. Mrs. Anolick testified that Child “began exercising excessively and compulsively” and dieted obsessively. Eventually, Child’s condition deteriorated to the point that Mrs. Anolick could not believe that Child’s father and the court-appointed therapist did not notice. “Her bones stuck out of her legs,” Mrs. Anolick testified. “Her face became gray and wrinkled, her checks were hollow, her eyes were sunken. If you hugged her, you could feel the bones beneath the thickness of a down coat.” “She looked like a concentration camp victim,” said Mrs. Anolick. According to Dr. Neustein, when she asked Dr. Orbach to do something for Child, the child’s father, a medical doctor, told her she was overreacting.

Emergency Room

Although Dr. Neustein was forbid-den by court order to seek medical attention for her child without Dr. Orbach’s permission, in March 1989, she consulted her attorney and, acting on his advice, she and Mrs. Anolick took photographs of Child and then brought her to the Kings County Hospital Emergency Room. Doctors at Kings County found Child to be suffering from life-threatening anorexia nervosa, dehydration, anemia, hypoglycemia, and hypothermia. The physician on call that evening, Dr. Jeffrey Birnbaum, called Child “by far the worst case of emaciation I have ever seen.” He told Dr. Neustein that if she had not been hospitalized, the child could have died.

Abnormal Behavior

Dr. Birnbaum later testified that “the child was emaciated, with very bizarre behavior consistent with anorexia nervosa which is very abnormal in an eight-year-old child.” In his testimony, Dr. Birnbaum was also struck by Child’s sexualized behavior. “I remember that Child, during her admission to the hospital, used language, some of it of a sexual nature, that seemed grossly inappropriate for a girl her age,” he wrote. Meeting with Dr. Orbach later that night, Dr. Birnbaum detailed the serious-ness of Child’s condition. Dr. Birnbaum described the father’s response as “very cold and offish.”

Seductive Poses

Dr. Neustein says she will never forget the irony that her emaciated eight-year-old was nevertheless wearing lipstick and fingernail polish. But Dr. Neustein said she was not surprised. In photographs taken of Child by a member of Mrs. Anolick’s family almost a year earlier, the child is seen posing seductively and wearing make-up. In April 1995, Kathy Rosenthal, president of Children’s Rights of America, wrote to the Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the US Department of Justice that Child’s poses in the photographs are “suggestive of having been prompted to pose in coy, seductive-type poses that closely resemble photography of a child who might be in the process of being ‘groomed’ for more explicit sexual material that might be offered as ‘child erotica.’”

“I’m Going To Tell”

For reasons of his own, Dr. Orbach had his daughter transferred from Kings County to Brookdale Hospital, where she remained for six weeks hooked up to an IV. Rosalie Harman, a super-visor for New York’s Human Resources Administration, testified at Mr. Paterson’s 1993 legislative hearing investigating the case that she had seen a notation in Child’s Brookdale Hospital file that a nurse had heard the child tell her father, “You got me into this. If you don’t get me out of here, I’m going to tell everything.” Although the nurse reported the statement to a child welfare worker, according to Ms. Harman, “There was no follow-up on what the child said.” Ms. Harman said that when she inquired about Child’s file in 1992, her only motivation was to ascertain if the child was still alive. Nevertheless, she testified, she was severely reprimanded.
Punishing the Rescuer

When the issue of Child’s visit to the Emergency Room reached Brooklyn Family Court, Judge Deutsch reacted by punishing Dr. Neustein with an indefinite suspension of her visitation privileges. Dr. Orbach was never charged with abuse or neglect in connection with this incident, despite testimony from experts that such severe anorexia in a child of Child’s age can be a symptom of sexual abuse. Court-appointed psychologist Steven Klee, who examined Child, submitted an April1989 affidavit suggesting that the “early onset of this disorder would raise the suspicion that she might have had a very early introduction to sex.” But Judge Deutsch barred Dr. Klee and Dr. Winston Price, who also examined Child, from divulging their suspicions. Continuing Issue According to Mr. Lesher, Dr. Orbach contended that the visits between Child and her mother contributed to the child’s anorexia. But the symptoms continued well after the judge stopped the mother’s visitations. According to a report in Newsday in 1992, three years after Dr. Neustein stopped seeing her daughter, Child lost 11 pounds in two weeks. In 1993, Mr. Paterson described the forces arrayed against Dr. Neustein as “an intensely ferocious effort made by judges, service and law-guardian agencies, rabbis, and elected officials to protect the father from an investigation.” Mr. Lesher, who first met Dr. Neustein in 1996, said officials who have tried to help Dr. Neustein in her struggle to regain her child believe that the way her case has been handled may be linked to powerful players within Brooklyn’s Orthodox-Jewish community who have been offended by her periodic public broadcasts against Orthodox leaders, and sympathetic to an Orthodox father accused of molestation. In 1996, Mr. Lesher wrote an op-ed in the New York Jewish Week about the case, citing Thaddeus Owens, Jr, an activist who had gained fame by attempting to reconcile the African-American and Jewish communities in the wake of the1991 Crown Heights riots. Atone of Mr. Paterson’s hearings, Mr. Owens testified that rabbis he had spoken to about Dr. Neustein suggested her tirades against the Orthodox community that she felt had betrayed her had rendered her a “self-hating Jew” and that because she had publicly accused an Orthodox Jew of child abuse, her daughter’s death, presumably from anorexia, “would only be justice.”

Nothing Will Change

In August of 1996, Mr. Lesher interviewed Dr. Orbach for an article the Village Voice was doing on the issue, even though it had long since passed out of the courts. According to the report, which was published in October of that year, Dr. Orbach’s demeanor was “detached and he spoke in an almost mechanical fashion, saying repeatedly, ‘I have nothing to prove.’” He had no comment when asked about the charges of abuse, but when presented with Dr. Neustein’s claim that he was a “cold father,” he told the paper, “I have custody of the child. I think that speaks for itself.” “All I can tell you is that I’ve been cleared,” he told Mr. Lesher, adding, “Your story isn’t going to change anything.” And he was right.

Defies Logic

Dr. Neustein initially contacted Mr. Lesher be-cause she had seen some of his articles in the Village Voice, and, knowing he lived in Passaic as a neighbor of the Anolicks, she thought he might be able to help. His first impulse was to walk away. “Everything that happened in this case defies logic so completely that you keep thinking there must be something you’re missing or overlooking,” he said. He pored over her documentation, and concluded—as did so many others outside the Brooklyn court system—that what she was saying was the truth. “No amount of staring at the facts of this case will make any sense of them. It’s as though no one in a position of power was watching what was happening,” he said.

Watching

But people were watching. In November 1992, Mr. Nadler wrote to child welfare officials, saying about Child, “If this child dies, you will be guilty of accessory to murder.” Child didn’t die, but the relationship between her and her mother is comatose, teetering beyond life support. Still Dr. Neustein lives on hope. “Perhaps this Pesach we will see redemption,” she says.

 
At 7:56 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Note: I have removed the victim's name from this story.

For more information -
http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/ozzieorbach.html

The book is on sale at Amazon for $17.16.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1584654627/104-8290697-6779165

 
At 11:12 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Another OHEL failure:

E.B., former resident of Ohel, Brooklyn, NY

Decision of Interest.
New York Law Journal
September 24, 2003

Kings County Surrogate's Court

Surrogate Harkavy

[Edited for Publication]

E. B. v. K.M. - In this guardianship proceeding, defendants move to restore their prior Notice of Cross-Motion, (which had been transferred to this Court from the Supreme Court of Kings County), for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's Order To Show Cause.
Plaintiff moved the Court to set aside the separation agreement of
L.B. and E.B., as it pertains to the custody of their children, J.
and A. and to grant custody of the children to the plaintiff.

L.B., mother of J. and A., died on March 20, 1998 from cancer at the age of 32. Prior to her death, she and plaintiff were divorced pursuant to a Judgment of the Divorce dated August 2, 1996. A settlement agreement, entitled "Property Adjustment Agreement", was entered into by the parties on July 16, 1996. On page 25, of the agreement, it provides that "for reasons best known to the Father, the Father, E.B., specifically authorizes, designates and appoints, the parents of the wife-mother to wit: K.M. and R.M....as joint co-
guardians of both children. That in the event that either of the
joint co-guardians dies...then in that event, the surviving guardian
shall serve as the remaining sole previously appointed guardian in
their place and stead". It further provides that should both
guardians predecease the mother herein, then B.M. and D.M., or the
survivor of them shall serve as the joint co-guardians for the two
infant issue of the marriage.

The agreement further provides that it was understood and agreed by and between the parties that the father suffers from a psycho-sexual disorder which necessitates long term treatment and intervention.

Following the death of L.B., K. and R.M. petitioned this Court for
the guardianship of their two granddaughters pursuant to the Property Adjustment Agreement. At the time, E.B. appeared in this Court, represented by counsel, and stated that he signed the Property Adjustment Agreement under duress. Mr. B. submitted an affidavit whereby he stated that he panicked because he believed that considering his history, contesting the divorce would result in his losing his children forever. He further stated that his wife told him that if he would not sign the agreement, she would begin proceedings to have him declared an unfit father and reveal his past to everyone.
These threats, together with the fact that his wife was dying of
cancer, overwhelmed him with such guilt that he signed the agreement.

After lengthy discussions, on June 11, 1998, a stipulation of
settlement was entered into by the parties in Surrogate's Court with both sides being represented by counsel. The settlement was placed on the record on June 12, 1998. The parties agreed that the Property Adjustment Agreement dated July 16, 1996 continued in full force and effect and that both parties acknowledged that they fully read and reviewed the agreement with their respective counsel and fully consented and agreed to same and understood that they were bound by the terms of the stipulation. Both the parties and their respective
counsel signed the stipulation. Additionally, the Surrogate allocuted all the parties on the record, wherein they stated that the terms and conditions of the stipulation were both agreeable and acceptable to each of them and that each of them was satisfied with the services of
their attorney.

Petitioner now claims that the stipulation placed on the record was also agreed to under duress.

Petitioner claims that he felt he had no choice but to accept the
stipulation. At the time he had no stable residence, no stable
employment, and was on shaky ground emotionally.

Defendants claim that pursuant to CPLR s.3211 (a)(5), the plaintiff's Order To Show Cause should be dismissed on the grounds of collateral estoppel and res judicata. Under New York law, collateral estoppel precludes a party from relitigating in a subsequent action or proceeding an issue clearly raised in a prior action or proceeding and decided against that party, whether or not the tribunals or causes of action are the same; the doctrine applies if the issue in the second action is identical to an issue which was raised, necessarily decided and material in the first action, and the plaintiff had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the earlier action. Leather v. Eyck, C.A.2, 180 F.3d 420, on remand 97 F.Supp.2d 482. The res judicata doctrine is concerned with an endeavor to relitigate a whole claim rather than only parts of it, (Siegel, New York Practice, s.442).

The doctrines, although addressed herein, are not dispositive of this motion.

Mr. B. would, however, be collaterally estopped from challenging the agreement's validity at this date, (Mahon v. Moorman, 234 AD2d 1). His ratification of the Property Adjustment Agreement, in the prior
Surrogate Court proceeding precludes him from re-litigating in a subsequent action of proceeding an issue clearly raised and determined in this Court in June, 1998, (Bank v. Brooklyn Law School, 297 AD2d 770). This Court finds that the plaintiff ratified the Property Adjustment Agreement as valid. He is now foreclosed from
collaterally impeaching the judgment under the principles of res judicata. Further the agreement is immune from challenge by reason of
ratification. Mr. B., both by his attorney and himself, ratified the
agreement in the Surrogate's Court action.

Plaintiff now brings a motion alleging that the stipulation of
settlement entered into in Surrogate's Court was also done under duress. In his affidavit he states, that he was assured by his
attorney, that through this agreement, he would have increased access to his children and that if he did not sign the agreement, he believed that defendants had the power to take his children away from him completely.

To prevail on a claim of duress, plaintiff must prove that
defendant's alleged threats deprived him of the ability to exercise his own free will. A mere threat to do that which one has the legal right to do does not constitute duress (Lyons v. Lyons, 289 AD2d 902).

Plaintiff has failed to prove that the agreement was entered into under duress. Plaintiff was represented by counsel and stated on the record that he consented to the agreement. He ratified the agreement by signing the stipulation of settlement which states that the Property Adjustment Agreement shall remain in full force and effect, and he further ratified it in open Court when the Surrogate allocuted him, at which time he stated that he was satisfied with the agreement
and with the services of his attorney.

Plaintiff asks for custody of his children but fails to state any
grounds to warrant a change of guardianship.

It is axiomatic that though child custody can be agreed to in a
separation agreement, the rights and interests of children can never be bargained away, and that child custody is always subject to the best interests of children, Friederwitzer v. Friederwitzer, 55NY2d 89).

In support of his motion, plaintiff's attorney has supplied a copy of the transcript wherein, during oral argument, he questioned whether any proof was offered that his client had ever been arrested or convicted. He stated that Mr. B. entered the CAP program voluntarily. The CAP program is a behavioral program that Mr. B. entered to treat
his sexual psychological disorder. Plaintiff's attorney stated that his client entered the program solely to satisfy the grandparents and the dying mother with regard to his ability to watch the children. On pages 25-26 of the Property Adjustment Agreement, in which plaintiff
admits to having a psycho-sexual disorder, there are agreed upon
detailed procedures to be followed in order for Mr. B. to have unsupervised visitation including, he must first be examined by a psychiatrist and obtain a report from a psychiatrist recommending
unsupervised visitation. If the guardians refuse to accept that
recommendation, they can hire their own forensic expert to analyze petitioner and if the two experts cannot agree on a finding or conclusion as to the father being entitled to unsupervised
visitation, then the parties are to apply to the Court. The Court
would direct a forensic evaluation be held by a Court appointed evaluator.

These procedures were not followed.

Plaintiff's motion, although inartfully drawn, seeks to change
custody from the guardians appointed by this Court to himself, as father. He claims that absent extraordinary circumstances, a natural parent has a claim to custody of his/her child "superior to that of all others, unless they abandoned that right or is proved unfit to
assume the duties and privileges of parenthood". There must first be a threshold showing of surrender, unfitness of other extraordinary circumstances before the second prong, the question of the child's best interests, is reached (Matter of Male Infant L, 61 NY2d 420).

Plaintiff maintains that there are no extraordinary circumstances in this case to warrant the Court seeking what is in the child's best interests. Plaintiff maintains that relinquishing custody to the
children's grandparents, and then to B.M. and D.M. pursuant to the
Property Adjustment Agreement does not constitute abandonment because the agreement was obtained through duress.

Plaintiff argues that even if the Court were to find extraordinary
circumstances in this case, it would have to apply the "best
interests" analysis. Plaintiff states that while plaintiff has shown tremendous insight into his own condition, the same cannot be said for the defendants. Plaintiff claims that the children attend an Orthodox Jewish School while coming home to a Reform Jewish household
which is not in their best interests. Additionally, one of the guardians, K.M., recently passed away. However, the Court notes that the Property Adjustment Agreement anticipated this precise situation and provided that the sole surviving guardian shall continue in that
role.

In Zamoiski v. Center, 166 AD2d 781, an award of custody to the
maternal grandparents as against the biological father was affirmed. In that case, the father had knowingly and voluntarily signed a separation agreement in which he surrendered his custody of the children at a time when he knew their mother was dying of a terminal illness. The Court found it to be in the children's best interests to
remain with their grandparents, after living apart from their father for over three years. The Court further found that the grandparents had consistently provided a secure, stable and happy environment for the grandchildren. The existence of a mental condition combined with
the protracted separation of parent from child and the attachment of children to their grandparent supports the Court's finding of extraordinary circumstances and moreover, determined that it was in the best interests of the children to remain with the grandmother where the children were thriving, happy and well developed (Charles
v. Moreno, 293 AD2d 604).

The law guardian, appointed by this Court, interviewed all the
parties. He recommended that the children remain where they are, with their grandmother. He found that the children feel very comfortable in their religion and in their practice. He recommended continued supervised visits for the father whether with an agency or a third party.

The Court's burden on a motion for summary judgment is not to resolve issues of fact, but to determine if such issues exist. It is incumbent upon the party opposing summary judgment to assemble, lay bare and reveal his proofs to establish the existence of a genuine issue of fact for trial (Zuckerman v. City of New York, 49NY2d 557).

Plaintiff has failed to show any changed circumstances to warrant a
change in guardianship.

The Court notes plaintiff's attorney's argument that plaintiff was never arrested or convicted and that plaintiff voluntarily enrolled in a CAP treatment program. Plaintiff's attorney states that throughout the papers, that there is a smear on Mr. B.'s good name due to numerous allegations of some sort of pedophilia on the part of
Mr. B.. The attorney explains that plaintiff was an orphan, grew up in an Ohel boy's residence in Brooklyn, had no clue about his sexuality, and as a maturing adult, if he had impulses, he thought they were wrong and there was no one to set him straight. Mr. B., in his affidavit, testifies that his mother was arrested for drug
possession when he was 8 years old and he and his sister were taken and placed with a Jewish foster agency, Ohel Children's Home where he was placed in their boy's residence. He further testifies that he spent weekends and Sabbath, at the home of various Jewish families, where he developed relationships with the families and their children. He went to all boy yeshivas and schools and had only sporadic contact with girls until he was 14 years old. He states that
during this period he was confronted with his sexuality, "My behavior basically consisted of placing small children on my lap while I had
an erection". After his mother died when he was 16 years old, he
became depressed and placed on anti-depressants for most of the time while he was at the foster agency. After he was married, and his wife was diagnosed with cancer, it was during a therapy session that he told the counselor about his "teenage sexual behavioral problems" who
forced him to tell his wife. " I voluntarily went to an extreme
therapy center call CAP that treats child molesters". After his
divorce, Mr. B. married P., and he "disclosed everything to P. and
she is committed to standing by me and helping me deal with all my
issues. She and I went to the CAP center together to be sure that she was fully aware of my life's problems". These admissions are a stark contrast from plaintiff's counsel's statements wherein there is an objection to the allegations of pedophilia.

The pivotal question in a custody determination is that of the best
interests of the child. In determining what is in the best interest of the child there are no absolutes, only policies designed not to bind the Courts, but to guide the Court in determining what is in the best interests of the children (Eschbach v. Eschbach, 56 NY2d 167). No agreement of the parties can bind the Court to a disposition other than that which a weighing of all the factors Involved shows to be in the children's best interests, (People ex rel. Wassenberger v.
Wassenberger, 42 AD2d 93). The absence of a change of circumstances is a factor to be considered on consideration of the totality of the circumstances.

This Court is and has been mindful of the important role Mr. B. plays in his children's lives and want that relationship to continue with a balancing of all concerns.

The Court finds it in the best interests of the children to continue the terms of the Property Adjustment Agreement.

The Court finds that the agreement ratifying the Property Adjustment Agreement, placed on the record in June, 1998, is valid.

Plaintiff's motion is denied and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment to dismiss plaintiff's action is granted.

Both parties request for attorney fees are denied.

This constitutes the decision, and order of the Court.

 
At 11:17 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Another Ohel failure:
Jeffery, resident of Bais Ezra (Ohel), NY

>Miltz reports she was horrified
>to see him one day at the camp
>her daughter attends


A Sudden Attack Sparks Crusade
by Ellis Henican
February 21, 1997
Newsday, Queens

The house is no different from the other houses on the block.

Not so you'd notice anyway.

Bedrooms upstairs. A kitchen down. A spacious living room. Just
another big house on Gateway Boulevard in Far Rockaway, a residential block like blocks all over the borough.

Which is precisely the point.

The Bais Ezra Community Residence, as the house is called, is for mentally ill adults, an alternative to the big snake-pit institutions where most mental patients once were parked.

"It's a perfectly wonderful idea," Michele Miltz was saying. "Perfectly wonderful, depending on what kinds of problems the particular clients have."

That's a distinction this 37-year-old mother of five has learned
about the hard way.

Miltz was a staff nurse at the Bais Ezra house, looking after the
residents' medical and dietary needs. One day in 1993, she was in her small office on her second floor, doing paperwork.

"I was sitting at my desk," she recalled. A resident named Jeffrey
came in.

Jeffrey asked about a dental appointment Miltz had set up. "I told him, `It's not a problem. It's a regular appointment. We'll talk about it before you go.'

"The next thing I noticed I was flying through the air."

Jeffrey was about 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds. Miltz is 5-foot-2 1/2 - inches and 115 pounds. He did not have much trouble overpowering her.

Miltz was wearing a red V-neck dress that day. "He grabbed me on the V," she remembered. "He tossed me up in the air. My head hit the floor. Then he dragged me what must have been 10 feet, and he jumped on top of me.

"He was sitting on my knees. He pulled my dress above my head. My bra was up at my throat. His hands were around my neck. He had me pinned like that. The worst part was that I couldn't scream."

Four times, Miltz said, she faded out of consciousness. "The more I
twisted, the angrier he got," she said.

Eventually, some other staff members rushed to help. After a
difficult struggle, they pulled Jeffrey off.

It's been almost four years now since that horrible day in that
average-looking house. But the echos haven't even begun to fade.

Miltz says her health has never been the same since the sexual
assault. She was bruised and battered and wracked with pain. Her back was in a brace for months. She's had two major operations on her right leg. A third is planned.

She has filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit that is winding its way toward trial. In court papers, she says Jeffrey had been involved in seven previous outbursts at the home.

And suddenly, Michele Miltz finds herself at the center of a hotly
contested political debate that goes far beyond her own case.

The fight for victims of the on-the-job assault.

Like many people in her position, Miltz was told to make her claim
with the state's notoriously stingy Workers Compensation Board.

But Miltz' lawyer, Alan Kestenbaum, said last night he has found a way around that general rule. He isn't suing Bais Ezra, Miltz' direct employer. He's suing another nonprofit group, OHEL Family and Childrens Services, the agency he says is responsible for supervising
the Bais Ezra home.

"They really are one and the same," Kestenbaum said. "OHEL is
responsible for the day-to-day operations of Bais Ezra."

David Mandel, OHEL's chief, disputed that claim yesterday.

"OHEL did not do anything wrong and was not negligent," he said in a written statement.
"Therefore, OHEL is taking the necessary measures to defend itself against an unmerited lawsuit."

Through an aide, Mandel declined to answers questions about the suit.

This whole issue of Workers Comp is suddenly hot, after the recent
big-dollar settlement of a lawsuit against Saks Fifth Avenue. The case was brought by a Saks executive who was sexually assaulted by a security guard.

"The Miltz case is yet another example of why Workers Compensation sells workers short," said Manhattan attorney Elizabeth Mason, who represented the woman in the Saks case.

Mason, the National Organization for Women and other groups have been pushing for a change in State Law, allowing lawsuits by victims like these. Legislation has been proposed by Assemb. Catherine Abate of Manhattan.

"I never thought I would become a crusader for something like this,"
said Miltz, who lives with her family in Long Beach. "I have a
daughter who's retarded. So I'm not the lock-em-all-up type."

The Queens district attorney considered criminal charges against Jeffrey, but decided not to proceed. Jeffrey has since been moved, prosecutors said, to a more secure institution. (Miltz reports she was horrified to see him one day at the camp her daughter attends.)

For her part, Miltz said she's eager to help get changes in the
Workers Comp law. "I'll speak," she said. "They can use my name. I'll do whatever I can.

"If they want me to," she added, "I'll even bring the bra."

Newsday Photo by Audrey C. Tiernan- Michele Miltz tells her horror story of how a sudden attack on the job has changed her life and made her a crusader.

 
At 11:22 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Another OHEL failure:

http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/Adler.html

1)
Victims Learn Kid-Sex Fiend Served No Time; Nightmare Lingers For Kid-Sex Victims, Exlusive
By Douglas Montero

The New York Post - September 21, 1999, Tuesday

SECTION: All Editions; Pg. 003


MICHAEL vividly remembers the knife pressed against his throat.

He was 11, face down in bed at an upstate summer camp for Jewish orphans, when his partially clad counselor mounted him and threatened to kill him if he screamed.

"I was telling him to stop because it really hurt," said Michael, now 19.

For nearly two months, between games, outdoor activities and Orthodox religious observances, Michael would return to the horror of his cottage and forced sex with the 24-year-old man, he recalled.

Michael said he saw the same counselor sexually abuse his roommate and best friend, Robert, also 11 at the time.

Robert remembers vague abuse, but not specific acts.

Along with Michael, he claims the attacks continued at the Ohel Children's Home and Family Service Group Home in Borough Park, Brooklyn.

Michael and Robert say their complaints to other staffers were ignored for a year, until a worker caught the counselor straddling Michael.

Police were called and Michael remembers telling sex-crimes investigators in June 1992 that he wanted "justice."

The two boys hid the scars of the abuse for nine years. And then, last month, they discovered what had happened to their attacker:

He walked.

Simcha Adler, now 33, plea-bargained charges of sodomy, sexual abuse and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child down to attempted sodomy, court records show.

His punishment: five years' probation and psychological counseling.

"It's a crime that he could walk away ... and have a normal life," said Michael, now a mailroom worker in Midtown. "This man ruined my life."

Robert vaguely remembers Ohel workers telling him that Adler had been given probation.

"I was [angry], but I couldn't do anything - I wasn't smart enough to do anything," said Robert, now a City College freshman who wants to be an optometrist.

"He should be in jail for the rest of his life," said Robert, who was placed in Ohel because he was sexually abused by his mother.

Michael and Robert have contacted lawyers to find out if they can properly punish Adler. They also want to know if Ohel - their legal guardian - can be held accountable for failing to vigorously nail the pedophile to a prison cell wall.

Although the statute of limitations for suing is three years, the countdown didn't begin until they turned 18.

Adler was arrested on June 22, 1992, and released on $2,000 bail, then plea-bargained his way to freedom on Aug. 12 - less than two months later.

Ohel should have screamed murder, but it didn't.

Ohel fired Adler in May 1992, after two years of employment, but agency officials wouldn't say whether his termination stemmed from the sexual abuse.

Adler was charged with entering Robert's room and sexually molesting him.

"I could feel him coming before he even got in to my room," Robert said. "I knew what was going on, and I would fall asleep - I guess I was in shock ... Then I would wake up again and realize he was still on top of me."

Adler also was charged with fondling Michael in the shower.

"The counselors would take the kids to the showers and they [the kids] would bathe in their shorts," Michael recalled. "He [Adler] always made me take my shorts off.

"I couldn't sleep at night because I didn't know when he would walk into my room."

Michael and Robert angrily charge Ohel swept the abuse "under the rug" to avoid a legal battle that might ruin its reputation.

A former Ohel employee told The Post the boys' allegations were not taken seriously or investigated by Ohel because Michael was thought to be a "liar."

Ohel spokesman Gerald McKelvey would not respond to the ex-employee's comments. "Because of confidentiality concerns, Ohel cannot comment directly on previous or former clients," he said.

But Ohel has a history of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse.

Now-retired sex-crimes Detective Sal Catafumo recently told The Post that his 1984 investigation of a bogus Borough Park rabbi who had reportedly molested "hundreds" of children - including some Ohel orphans - while working as a child counselor got nowhere when cops tried to question the agency.

"They weren't cooperating," Catafumo said. "Kids ... had complained to Ohel and it was swept under the rug ... [and] never reported ..."

The rabbi was indicted, but he fled to Israel.

McKelvey and Ohel CEO David Mandel deny that the agency ignored kids' complaints about both Adler and the fake rabbi.

McKelvey dismissed Catafumo's claims as "absolutely false," and said Ohel "cooperated fully with authorities in the matter and was deeply involved in the treatment of the victims in this case."

In general, said Mandel, "any allegations made by anyone are taken very seriously and are investigated."

The psychological trauma of the year long series of attacks is apparent in both Michael and Robert, who still live in Ohel housing because they don't have money, parents or any place to go.

Robert said he's never dated a girl because he wanted to focus on school. He spent the past summer watching TV and playing video games.

Asked if the sexual attacks might have something to do with his fear of dating, he said, "I don't know - I never thought about it like that."

Robert takes a battery of prescription drugs to deal with his attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and a mood disorder.

Michael admitted he began seducing other orphaned boys at 14. A heterosexual, he says he is aroused by rape scenes. Medical records show he also suffers from ADHD and mood disorders.

The owner of a Borough Park building where Adler, until recently, had been living told The Post that the former counselor - who married in December and moved to Jerusalem - admitted to her several years ago that he was a pedophile.

She said his confession came after Ohel officials knocked on her door and told her to keep an eye on her children.

"He [Adler] told me he was sexually abused [as a child]," said the woman, who requested anonymity.

Adler was sent to Ohel at age 3 after his mother died, said his foster mother, Barbara Ackerman, who added that he underwent extensive therapy following his arrest.

"Once it was brought to our attention, we watched him," she said. "He dealt with it and he handled it ... He is doing well."


GRAPHIC: LIVES 'RUINED': Michael and Robert, their faces obscured, tell The Post's Douglas Montero of their ordeal at the hands of a counselor with Brooklyn's Ohel Children's Home eight years ago, when they were 11. Sam Costanza

2)
Compassion, Care and Concern At Ohel's Children's Home
The New York Post - September 24, 1999, Friday

SECTION: All Editions; Pg. 030

Douglas Montero's piece on sex-abuse allegations against a counselor at Ohel Children's Home does not reflect the fact that Ohel gave him two interviews and provided him with extensive information ("Victims Learn Kid-Sex Fiend Served No Time," Sept. 21).

Ohel reported to the Administration for Children's Services immediately after the accusations were made eight years ago. ACS investigated and determined the accusations unfounded. Far from "turning a blind eye to sexual abuse," Ohel fully and willingly cooperates with all authorities ininvestigations of any kind. Whenever any allegation is made concerning the safety or well-being of a child or adult in Ohel's care, we immediately investigate. If the child in question has been placed in our care by the ACS, we immediately notify ACS and the Department of Social Services, which then conduct their own independent investigations.

Since its founding in 1969,Ohel has successfully treated thousands of children and families, many of whom are victims of sexual abuse. Within the Jewish community, and throughout our city, Ohel is known as a reliable organization that responds professionally to the most difficult situations involving domestic and child abuse and families in crisis, including people with mental illness or other severe disabilities.

It is most unfortunate that Mr. Montero - who was given the opportunity to visit Ohel and learn first-hand about our 600 employees and 650 volunteers who provide vital services to 1,800 people every day - chose to create the inaccurate and false impression that Ohel doesn't respond to victims of abuse. Our entire mission and our proud record of compassion, care and concern prove the opposite. David Mandel, Chief Executive Officer Ohel Children's Homeand Family Services, Brooklyn.

 
At 11:43 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Let's not forget former President and current Treasurer of OHEL, David Jacobson, who may hold the record for desecration of Jewish children's graves under his care and control with a whopping 11,000+ graves.

http://web.archive.org/web/20020529055836/http://www.jewishinterest.com/

More Grave Danger In Queens

copyright © 1997 Moshe A. Handler

Important Correction: The printed version of our Jewish Interest Magazine inadvertently claimed that Rabbi Zohn's son worked for David Jacobson. The version of the article that should have been printed is this one with the correct claim that two of David Jacobson's sons had worked for Rabbi Zohn. We regret the error due to the wrong draft of the story going to print. This draft is the correct one.We regret our error.

This is an article that I have spent over two years trying not to write. I have no choice now. Two separate Rabbonim have ruled that I am under Halachic obligation to write it. They feel that the only progress ever made on this subject was due to the previous articles I wrote about it. They now feel no further progress will take place unless I write about it again. Sadly, I know they are right and that the only hope to solve this problem is to publicize it.

Four years ago, I was approached by three people, David Gevertzman, David Priever and Florence Marmor. They told me a story about Mokom Sholom, a cemetery on Liberty Avenue between 80th and 81st street in Queens. David Gevertzman was trying to find the grave of his great grandmother, who records indicated was buried there. He had enlisted the aid of Priever and Marmor, both whom were qualified Genealogists. As they searched for David's Great Grandmother they were shocked at what they discovered.

At least one fifth of the headstones at Mokom Sholom cemetery were missing. Completely gone. There were no signs of the graves that had previously been marked. At first they didn't believe it themselves. They set out on a course of checking paper trails, obtaining aerial photos and speaking to witnesses who lived in the area. The evidence was concrete. Someone had removed all above ground traces of thousands of graves. These were burials all made by the UHC (United Hebrew Charities using land that was donated by Congregation Darech Amuno of Manhattan.) What should have looked like a full cemetery now looked empty.



I arranged a meeting in Boro Park with Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, head of the Chevra Kadisha of the Vaad Horabonnim of Queens. Rabbi Zohn assured me that he was told by David Jacobson, the cemetery operator, that Mokom Sholom was empty. If however, the people who charged the cemetery contained graves could prove it, he would see that the cemetery would remain untouched. (Only in dire emergency does Jewish law permit burying one person on top of another.) This proved to be a false promise. I should have realized this when in order to impress me with how close he was to Jacobson, Rabbi Zohn told me that Jacobson's son was at that time working for him . Nevertheless, I asked for and Priever, Gevertzman and Marmor provided me with, mountains of proof which were later presented to Rabbi Zohn and some other members of the Vaad. We hoped they would do the right thing. Some of the proof we had and showed included;

Aerial photos over the years that showed markers on graves in previous years but no trace of any markers now.
Letters written to the cemetery commission by relatives of the dead people complaining of missing graves in the cemetery.
Photos of piled up removed headstones.
Testimony of neighbors who lived near the cemetery who remembered graves in the now empty looking area.
Documents from the cemetery commission files stating the cemetery was completely filled.
A state report by one Perry A. Fischer, detailing how the cemetery trustees were forbidden by Rabbis in previous years to reuse graves because there already were burials there and how when they attempted to bury where there appeared to be no bodies they always uncovered bodies and had to stop.
Correspondence between David Jacobson, the current Mokom Sholom operator, to one New York Recycling Company complaining that they were charging him too much to cover over the graves that were present. His method and his workers could do it for less.
A year by year log of just how many burials took place in Mokom Sholom calculated from Darech Amuno yearly reports.

Of course there was much, much more.

Despite the overwhelming proof offered to Rabbi Zohn, it became apparent he really did not want to see the proof we showed him. What he really wanted was to go ahead, give a "heter" and cover a known Jewish Cemetery so he could allow Jacobson to bury bodies in a clean field. After giving a full six months to have meeting after meeting and examine the evidence, I realized the obvious. Rabbi Zohn was assuring Vaad members that there were no problems at Mokom Sholom. He had every intention of allowing the covering of twelve thousand Jewish Graves with fresh dirt and every intention of allowing David Jacobson to sell these graves to unsuspecting Russians looking for burial plots. They would never question whether there were previous burials at that location. I could only guess at the motives but perhaps the words "big profits" would have something to do with it.

Since I soon realized, I was not being dealt with honestly and would be unable to stop them quietly, I used the only weapon I had left... publicity. I published the full story in The Jewish Interest Magazine. Thirty thousand copies of the magazine were distributed in the Boro Park and Flatbush area. It had a major effect. It stopped their plans dead. No one would cover the graves in the glare of publicity.

David Gevertzman was not fully satisfied. He wanted to make sure this issue would be settled for good and wanted to be sure they would not try this again. So he had a messenger sent to Rabbi Elyoshuv in Israel. Rabbi Elyoshuv is considered the Godol Hador (major Jewish Sage) today. The Rabbi sent back written notice that not only was it forbidden by Jewish law to pour earth over Mokom Sholom but as much as possible it was Halachicly required to restore the cemetery to it's former condition. We published the original text of the letter in The Jewish Interest Magazine. That to us seemed to end all the arguments about Mokom Sholom or so we thought.

New reports started coming in. A friend of mine in Israel called to tell me that representatives of the Vaad, including Rabbi Zohn, had flown out to Rabbi Elyoshuv. For two days they worked on convincing him that he made a mistake in ruling Mokom Sholom untouchable. They seemed to be making headway. But something they said on the third day set off alarms. Rav Elyoshuv realized they were lying and them told them flatly he would not reverse his P'sak Din (ruling.) The stunned Rabbis returned home in the same position as before. We were fairly satisfied that the cemetery was safe.

Things seemed quiet. But in the summer of 1997 I heard new stories. Rabbi Zohn was now telling people that he had a Halachic ruling stating Rav Elyoshuv had Halachic jurisdiction only in Israel and not in the United States. He now admitted that although he knew that there were graves in Mokom Sholom, it would be permissible to cover them in order to make money to use for repair of nearby Bayside cemetery, a cemetery that even now is not run by Jacobson, but was expected to go bankrupt soon and be given to him. Rabbi Elyoshuv's "P'sak din" was to be considered irrelevant.

Incredible!!

Covering Jewish dead in the USA was never done before! To do so would violate a most basic tenet of Judaism - respect for the dead. If this ruling goes forward, it would mean that in later years Jewish graves could regularly be covered over if money could be made from it (for good purposes only of course) and this ruling will by cited as the precedent! Covering over Jewish dead of one cemetery to support another could become a regular occurrence!

We recruited other Rabbis to enter the fray. (Most Rabonnim don't want to help because they don't wish to battle other Rabonnim.) After a recent major meeting of the Vaad I received a call from one Rav. He wanted to let me know that the Rabbi Zohn was only afraid of one person. Me. (little old gentle me? Not really. What he's really afraid of is people knowing the truth) The Rav informed me that he had ruled that I had the Halachic obligation to write a full article and expose what was going on in order to stop it since this was the only way it could be stopped. Soon another Rav called me. He too demanded I write this article. You are now reading the results of their request.

I met Rabbi Zohn and Rabbi Steinberg in front of Rabbi Steinberg's Shul a few months ago. Between heated shouts at me, Rabbi Zohn admitted that were it not for my articles exposing their intentions, Mokom Sholom would be covered over with another six feet of dirt and there would be double burials there today. He denied promising me that if I proved there were graves at Mokom Sholom he would stop the double burials (an out and out lie.) He confirmed to me that he felt he did not have to follow Rabbi Elyoshuv's P'sak Din. He also said that if David Jacobson suddenly poured earth over Mokom Sholom at his own whim there is nothing anyone could do. (Apparently, this is now the plan according to my sources.)

This may be true but we are supposed to be a Jewish community. We wouldn't allow the Czar or a communist government to wipe out all traces of a Jewish cemetery so can we allow two so called Jewish frum rabbis do it?

Rabbi Elchonon Zohn should not be allowed to rule on cemetery matters where David Jacobson is involved as he has been doing. Rabbi Zohn is a "Nogaiah Badovor" (involved too closely in the case.) There are witnesses who have told me he has taken gratuities from funeral homes as an award for sending them business even while forbidding his workers from to do so. (Gratuities reportedly have included, freezerfuls of Thanksgiving turkeys, fancy luggage and other items.) Many members of the Vaad, have reported to me that he has, a real interesting "Tachrichim" HUSSle going on. It is reported David Jacobson's two sons had worked for Rabbi Zohn. (Rabbi Zohn told me this himself.) In addition, Rabbi Zohn has had and continues to have great financial benefit working with Jacobson. Rabbi Zohn has now gotten the contract to do most or all Taharas for "Kehilla Chapels" a funeral home run by David Jacobson's son and wife. Since "Kehilla" has now taken over all UHC, (United Hebrew Community, otherwise known as Adath Yisroel) burials from Kirshenbaum Bros, it does a major amount of burials. (An interesting side note to this is that David Jacobson is the director of the UHC.) Halacha clearly forbids one who is involved as deeply as Rabbi Zohn is to rule on issues affecting Jacobson yet he has been doing so for years.

The Vaad has clearly been fooled by this man. He has misled them greatly while betraying their trust. How could the Vaad Horabbonim of Queens, a Vaad with one of the finest reputations for Kashrus supervision and integrity, fall for this phony? What should the Vaad Do to keep their good name?

The Vaad should immediately issue a letter acknowledging the cemetery is full (they already admit this privately) and acknowledging clear evidence that Rabbis previously banned new burials in Mokom Sholom.

A permanent memorial should be put up in the now empty field acknowledging and memorializing the people who are buried there. (If they are agreeable to this, we can supply thousands of names of people who are buried in Mokom Sholom.) Halacha requires markers in Jewish cemeteries.

The Vaad should look into having Rabbi Zohn replaced. Certainly, he cannot be trusted to work without strong supervision. The sweetheart deals with funeral homes and suppliers are not fitting for someone doing holy work. It may seem like he is irreplaceable but in truth Rabbis in the Vaad have secretly told me that there are many candidates who can take his place. He should not be allowed to maintain a position where Vaad members fear for their livelihoods if they oppose him.

Certainly, this article should be considered an official Halachic protest against the use of Mokom Sholom as a virgin cemetery. A "Michoa" (protest according to Halachic Tradition) as you will.

The Vaad Horabonnim of Queens should publicly proclaim the ban of covering known graves in Mokom Sholom. This would go a long way towards restoring public trust. Any member of the Vaad with ties to Jacobson should have no business making decisions on Jacobson cemeteries.

David Jacobson should publicly acknowledge the ban and be halachicly forbidden to cover over or remove headstones from any Jewish graves in the many Jewish cemeteries he runs, funeral homes and monument stores he is associated with in New York, New Jersey and Staten Island should not be patronized if he does not cooperate with Halachic rulings. If he will not accept this, then Rabbonim all over should issue a ban on using Jacobson's services and connected funeral homes and monument stores. The situation at Mokom Sholom does not require that precedent should be set in the United States to cover up Jewish dead.

It should be publicly acknowledged that at one time, Mokom Sholom graves were properly marked (as late as 1961.) It should be noted, that those monuments were removed with the express purpose of covering graves of already dead people, (mostly children under sixteen) to gain profit. There should be no reward, even thirty years later for trying to steal Jewsih graves.

We should strongly consider that someone undertake to catalog all Jewish burials in New York and make it available as a public database to insure moves like this can never be pulled off again. With computers, it is very easy to make burial records accessible to all. With burial logs publicly available, it will be hard to "make graves disappear" as has been done in Mokom Sholom. (No doubt in other cemeteries we don't know about too. In the four years since I started writing about Mokom Sholom, I've received report after report about missing graves in Washington cemetery in Brooklyn. I've been told that out of all people, Rabbi Zohn certified this cemetery as Okay)

I can't believe that it has taken four years to get to this point. In my wildest imagination, I never dreamt that I would have to battle supposedly religious Rabbis to stop them from covering over a cemetery full of Jewish dead right here in our own back yard in Queens. In the past four years, I have been accused of being "Mevazeh Talmud Chochom" for exposing these wrongs. Now, because of this Halachic ruling I am writing about this subject again. Truthfully, I cannot even understand the controversy. Are Jewish graves so valueless that we can erase all traces of them at whim?

It is my sincere wish that the Vaad Horabonim do the right thing and make sure this travesty will never happen in order that their good name survive. If they insist on not doing the right thing, I will do whatever is needed to publicize their direct violation of Halachic ruling. My first duty is to truth and to the protection of the thousands of "Neshomos" (souls) in Mokom Sholom who must have someone to speak out for them.

Writers Note: The printed issue has not even hit the streets yet and I have been receiving calls from people who have worked with Rabbi Zohn constantly. The word is out that I am writing about him and I am being inundated with terrible tales about him. I will only post those that are relevant to the issues since the purpose here is to save close to twelve thousand graves and to preserve the dignity of Jewish dead not a vendetta against Rabbi Zohn. Except for speaking to him about Mokom Sholom, I have never had any dealings with him at all.

Writers Note 2: Some of my sources have commented that I have not emphasized that the Vaad Horabonim Of Queens is one of the most well organized and respected Vaads's in the country. Their Kashrus certification program is known to be first class. Certainly, there are members of the Vaad who are nationally respected for their knowledge and expertise. My latest reports are that there are some in the Vaad who have been willing to go along with Zohn because they felt the Vaad needed the money. At one meeting, Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld courageously stood up and demanded there should be no more burials at Mokom Sholom. He has been rewarded for his courage. He is no longer asked to attend meetings where Mokom Sholom is discussed. Reportedly, he is no longer on the New York State Cemetery Board.

All the more reason not to let a rotten apple spoil the bunch. MH.

PSS As of today, I have been warned Rabbi Zohn has organized meetings designed to rally Rabbonim to his side. I advise these well meaning Rabbonim to speak to me before they make any rulings. They should certainly check out my follow up page for new information.

 
At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There may be issues with agencies in the Jewish community, but I strongly urge people not to use the Neustein story as a launching point. You will be very dissappointed. Amy Neustein has severe psychological issues. The child was rightfully taken away from her. In a very short time you will be hearing directly from "the child"(now 24 and in law school) and she will turn this entire story on its head. Rosenbluth and Bluth will be lucky if they have a penny to the their names when "the child" finishes with them.

 
At 8:33 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Max Bulmash, another piece of the OHEL failure puzzle.

1)
AS MOTHER KILLED HER SON, PROTECTORS OBSERVED PRIVACY
By CELIA W DUGGER
February 10, 1992
New York Times
Page 1, Column 1
(summary - not full article)

Death of 8-year-old Yaakov Riegler of Brooklyn from injuries inflicted by his mother throws light on scattered and uncoordinated workings of New York City's child welfare system and how its failings are magnified by state confidentiality laws; Shulamis Riegler is about to be sentenced to 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison for killing her son, who died in Oct 1990; Max Bulmash, family doctor who knew of Mrs Riegler's abusive history and was called on several times to treat Yaakov's wounds, is under investigation to see if he violated laws that require doctors to report signs of child abuse; photos

2)
see: http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/ozzieorbach.html
...
Unnamed child's time in foster care was overseen by the Orthodox-run Ohel Children's Home and Family Services, which cares for Orthodox Jewish children. A psychiatrist, Dr. Sidney Fein, would later testify in family court that unnamed child said her stay in foster care was miserable...she was treated terribly.'' While Ohel sharply limited Neustein's access to unnamed child, her father--although accused of molesting her--visited her at the home of her then foster father, pediatrician Max Bulmash. In the fall of 1987, Chaya Berger, a foster mother under Ohel's supervision, reported that unnamed child had complained that her father had molested her during a visit. While Ohel claims to have made the required report to the state child abuse hot line, there is no record that it did so.
...

 
At 9:13 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

OHEL fringe benefits: friends in high places that can get extradition attempts dropped.

Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz worked as head master in special education school for boys in Brooklyn, that was connected with Ohel Children and Family Services in Brooklyn, New York. He was named in a December 3, 1984, arrest warrant charging him with two counts of sex abuse". He fled to Israel. According to U.S. Justice and State department documents, Hynes' office approved a decision in 1993 to drop efforts to extradite Mondrowitz, a U.S. citizen who has been sheltered by the Israeli government since he fled the United States in 1985.

http://theawarenesscenter.org/Mondrowitz_Avrohom.html

1)
Child Counselor in Brooklyn Is Charged With Abusing Boy
The New York Times

December 10, 1984, Monday, Late City Final Edition

Section B; Page 15, Column 4; Metropolitan Desk

A Brooklyn man who runs a child- counseling practice from his home is being sought on charges he sexually abused a 10-year-old boy, authorities said last night. The man was identified as Avrohom Mondrowitz of 1440 60th Street in the Borough Park section. A spokesman for the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, which issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Mondrowitz last week, said he was ''missing'' from his home.

The complaint on which the warrant is based charges Mr. Mondrowitz with two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree and endangering the welfare of a child.

2)
Rabbi Ordered Out Of Israel To Face Abuse Charges In US
The Associated Press (Boston Globe) - March 19, 1987

TEL AVIV -- The government has ordered the expulsion of a self-styled rabbi who has been charged in New York with sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy under his care, the interior minister said yesterday.

Israeli-born Abraham Mondrowitz, 40, has denied wrongdoing. His Israeli attorney, David Ofek, said the child molesting charge was an "ugly libel."

Mondrowitz is not in custody in Israel, and his whereabouts was not immediately known.

The expulsion order came more than two...

3)
DATELINE: JERUSALEM
United Press International - March 19, 1987, Thursday, BC

SECTION: International

JERUSALEM: Officials said Thursday an ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbi is facing deportation to the United States to face charges of sexually molesting children in New York.

Justice Ministry officials said a deportation order is being prepared against Avrohom Mondrowitz, who moved to Israel two years ago after operating a child psychology clinic and hosting a weekly radio talk show in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In Brooklyn, a spokesman for District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman said Mondrowitz was indicted in December 1984 on two charges of sex abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

The Jerusalem Post reported the New York Police Department has issued wanted posters featuring a photo of the bearded, bespectacled, black-clad Mondrowitz, saying he is sought for numerous sexual abuses in Brooklyn.

Mondrowitz, in Jerusalem with his family, denied the charges.

''In my life, I have never raped children. I am a healthy man in body and spirit,'' he told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

Mondrowitz moved to Israel from New York two years ago with his wife and seven children.

U.S. officials asked Israel to deport Mondrowitz shortly after he left New York, but former Interior Minister Yitzhak Peretz refused the request. Peretz recently left office and U.S. authorities tried again for deportation.

Extradition was ruled out because the crimes Mondrowitz is charged with are not covered by the U.S.-Israeli extradition treaty.

4)
ISRAEL WILL EXTRADITE SELF-STYLED U.S. RABBI
By Associated Press

Los Angeles Times - March 19, 1987

Thursday, Late Final Edition - SECTION: Part 1; Page 14; Column 1; Foreign Desk


TEL AVIV Israel has ordered the expulsion of a self-styled rabbi who has been charged in New York with sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy under his care, the Interior Minister said Wednesday.

Israeli-born Abraham Mondrowitz, 40, arrived in Israel in 1985 from New York, where he had counseled children at an unlicensed clinic in his home. In December, 1984, New York City police charged that on two occasions in June of that year, Mondrowitz abused a 10-year-old boy at his home, which doubled as his office.

5)
Expulsion move sought over child sex attacks
By Ian Murray

The Times (London) - March 20 1987

Friday, SECTION: Issue 62721.

JERUSALEM The Israeli Ministry of the Interior is drawing up a deportation order against an ultra-Orthodox child psychologist wanted for questioning in the United States about alleged sexual assaults on more than 100 children, of whom 28 are now said to be suffering from Aids.

The man involved, Dr Avroham Mondrowitz, has been living in Israel for two years using an extended tourist visa, but according to relatives he has now gone into hiding with his wife and six of his seven children. His lawyer has described the allegations, made in charges by the Brooklyn Sex Crimes Squad, as 'ugly libel'.

In an interview last summer with the Jerusalem Post, Dr Mondrowitz said the allegations against him were false. But a New York grand jury has so far received six sworn affidavits alleging sexual assault by him. A Brooklyn rabbinical edict alleges that he took children to see pornographic films and then sexually assaulted or raped them.

Previous extradition requests were rejected by the former Interior Minister, Mr Yitzhak Peretz, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi.

6)
Rabbi faces deportation to U.S. on charges of molesting children
[FINAL Edition]; The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa, Ont.;

Mar 20, 1987; pg. A.1

Dateline: JERUSALEM

Abstract: Justice Ministry officials said a deportation order is being prepared against Avrohom Mondrowitz, who moved to Israel two years ago after operating a child psychology clinic and hosting a weekly radio talk show in Brooklyn, N.Y.

U.S. officials asked Israel to deport Mondrowitz shortly after he left New York, but former Interior Minister Yitzhak Peretz refused the request. Peretz recently left office and U.S. authorities tried again for deportation.

JERUSALEM (UPI) - Officials said Thursday an ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbi is facing deportation to the United States to face charges of sexually molesting children in New York.

Justice Ministry officials said a deportation order is being prepared against Avrohom Mondrowitz, who moved to Israel two years ago after operating a child psychology clinic and hosting a weekly radio talk show in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In Brooklyn, a spokesman for District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman said Mondrowitz was indicted in December 1984 on two charges of sex abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

The Jerusalem Post reported the New York Police Department has issued wanted posters featuring a photo of the bearded, bespectacled, black-clad Mondrowitz, saying he is sought for numerous sexual abuses in Brooklyn.

Mondrowitz, in Jerusalem with his family, denied the charges.

"In my life, I have never raped children. I am a healthy man in body and spirit," he told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

Mondrowitz moved to Israel from New York two years ago with his wife and seven children.

U.S. officials asked Israel to deport Mondrowitz shortly after he left New York, but former Interior Minister Yitzhak Peretz refused the request. Peretz recently left office and U.S. authorities tried again for deportation.

Extradition was ruled out because the crimes Mondrowitz is charged with are not covered by the U.S.-Israeli extradition treaty.

7)
Marcos Aide, Wearing Wig, Arrested
[SUN-SENTINEL Edition]

Sun Sentinel (Page 14A), Fort Lauderdale

Mar 20, 1987

Justice Ministry officials said a deportation order is being prepared against Avrohom Mondrowitz, who moved to Israel two years ago after operating a child-psychology clinic and conducting a weekly radio talk show in Brooklyn. Brooklyn District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman's office said Mondrowitz was named in a Dec. 3, 1984, arrest warrant charging him with two counts of sex abuse.

8)
Em New York, Avrohom Mondrowitz
www.psicopedagogia.com.br/artigos/artigo.asp?entrID=29

"Em New York, Avrohom Mondrowitz, um rabino ortodoxo, dono de uma clínica de psicologia infantil no Brooklyn, foi processado por agressão sexual a mais de 100 crianças. (JB 20/3/87) Conforme depoimentos, perante um tribunal, o rabino, que fugiu para Israel, levava meninas para assistir a filmes pornográficos e depois as estuprava."

(The following is a google translation to english - We've added square bracketed words to improve readibility - We don't have any understanding of Portuguese - also we are not sure if girls is the correct translation, as we were under the impression he preyed on boys).

In New York, Avrohom Mondrowitz, an orthodox rabbi, owner of a clinic of infantile psychology in the Brooklyn, was processed [charged] by [with] sexual aggression [molestation of] more than the 100 children. (JB 20/3/87)

As [according to] depositions, before a court, the rabbi, who ran away for [fled to] Israel, took girls to attend the ponographic films and later he raped them.

9)
THE WORLD
Los Angeles Times - March 20, 1987

Friday, Home Edition - SECTION: Part 1; Page 2; Column 2; Foreign Desk

THE WORLD A Jewish Orthodox rabbi is facing deportation from Israel to the United States to face child-molesting charges. Israel's Justice Ministry said a deportation order is being prepared against Avrohom Mondrowitz, who moved to Israel two years ago after operating a child psychology clinic in Brooklyn. A 1984 New York arrest warrant accused Mondrowitz of sex abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. He has denied the charges. U.S. officials asked Israel to deport Mondrowitz shortly after he moved to Israel, but former Interior Minister Yitzhak Peretz denied the request. Peretz recently left office, and U.S. authorities again sought deportation.

10)
Israel to deport doctor
By Ian Murray

The Times (London) - March 23 1987

SECTION: Issue 62723.


JERUSALEM Mr Ronni Milo, the acting Israeli Interior Minister, is to press ahead with an order to deport Dr Avroham Mondrowitz, an ultra-Orthodox child psychologist who is wanted for questioning about sexual assaults on Jewish boys in Brooklyn (Ian Murray writes).

The doctor has had tests for Aids because 28 of those he is said to have interfered with are alleged to have been infected. The tests have shown that he does not have Aids nor is he a carrier of it, but Mr Milo says he will issue the order because 'an accused person - Jew or non-Jew - should stand trial'.

11)
Jewish Community Grapples With Sex Abuse
By Stephanie Saul - Staff Writer

Newsday - May 26, 2003, 8:10 PM EDT

http://www.nynewsday.com/news/local/crime/nyc-rabbi0527,0,3810252.story?coll=nyc-manheadlines-crime

This is the first in a three-part series.
...
Alleged abusers continue to operate freely by moving among congregations, states, even countries. Avrohom Mondrowitz, a self-styled rabbi who once had a popular radio show in Brooklyn, is living openly and teaching in a Jerusalem college although he is wanted on charges of sexually abusing four Brooklyn boys, aged 10 to 16. If he ever returns to the United States, he will be arrested, according to the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.
...

12)
Tripping Up The Prosecution
By Stephanie Saul - Staff Writer

Newsday - May 28, 2003

Last in a series.

http://www.nynewsday.com/templates/misc/printstory.jsp?slug=nyc%2Dpros0529§ion=%2Fnews%2Flocal%2Fqueens

Former New Yorker Avrohom Mondrowitz has built a quiet, comfortable life as a college professor in Jerusalem.

The syllabus for his business administration course at Jerusalem College of Engineering is posted on the Web, along with his phone number.

Mondrowitz is living so openly, it's hard to believe the psychologist and self-styled rabbi is wanted for allegedly sexually abusing four Brooklyn boys, ages 10 to 16. The charges against him include sodomy.

"I don't want this hydra to lift its head again," said Mondrowitz, declining to discuss his 1985 indictment on 13 counts. Once the host of a radio program in Brooklyn, Mondrowitz will be arrested should he ever re-enter the United States, according to the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.

But according to U.S. Justice and State department documents, Hynes' office approved a decision in 1993 to drop efforts to extradite Mondrowitz, a U.S. citizen who has been sheltered by the Israeli government since he fled the United States in 1985.

Michael Lesher, a New Jersey attorney who obtained the federal documents after years of research on the Mondrowitz case, said the decision to drop efforts to return Mondrowitz to the United States is an embarrassing one, considering the severity of the charges.

A spokesman for Hynes, Jerry Schmetterer, was at a loss to explain the decision.

"We don't know anything about the State Department closing its file," said Schmetterer, calling the federal records a "mystery."

"We have nothing in our files to indicate we ever made that decision," said Schemetterer, emphasizing that the Mondrowitz file is still kept in a prosecutor's desk in the event Mondrowitz ever returns from Jerusalem.

Escape to Israel is merely one of the factors that can hamper prosecution of alleged sex abuse in the Orthodox community.

Police and prosecutors find that victims of alleged sexual abuse in those communities are discouraged from coming forward.

Intense pressure is often brought to bear on complainants who bypass rabbinical courts -- the community's preferred method of settling disputes -- and instead go to secular authorities. Witnesses, who are often young, become fearful and wavering. And prosecutors face pressure from a community that votes as a cohesive block.

One woman, whose son was called to testify about an alleged instance of abuse, said that extraordinary pressure was placed both on her family and on the family of the alleged victim.

"I had rabbis coming by. They threatened we'll have curses in our family. It might sound silly to you, but it was very frightening," said the woman.

She said that rabbis supplied her with a statement from a psychologist who had never examined her son, saying he was not fit to testify.

In Brooklyn, with its large Hasidic community, police have been confounded by the outcomes of some cases they investigated involving the Hasidim.

At a loss to explain the cases, some cops in the 66th Precinct, which includes Borough Park, have shrugged their shoulders and paraphrased a line from the Jack Nicholson film "Chinatown" -- "Forget it, Jake, it's Brooklyn."

One of those who recalls making the remark was retired police Capt. William Plackenmeyer, who worked for many years in Brooklyn. "In Brooklyn, it almost seemed like there were two penal codes, one for the Hasidic community and one for everyone else," Plackenmeyer said.

But Hynes' office says decisions on prosecutions are made without regard to political considerations or community pressure.

"We prosecute sex crimes. We prosecute allegations of child abuse, sex abuse," said Schmetterer. "Trained investigators conduct these investigations and come to a conclusion. They make the decision."

The arrest of a popular rabbi in the Bobox Hasidic sect in January 2000 provides another example of the pressure that can be placed on those who complain to outside officials. In that case, a 9-year-old boy accused the Brooklyn rabbi, his tutor, of physically and sexually abusing him.

In the end, Hynes' office threw out all charges against Rabbi Solomon Hafner. Schmetterer said they were found to be baseless.

But before the case was resolved, the police assigned 24-hour protection to the complainant's family, according to a law enforcement source. The family had been threatened by members of the Bobov community, the source said.

"They excoriate the victim, they run them out of the community, they make sure the victim will never marry," said sociologist Amy Neustein, who, with Lesher, researched the Hafner case and frequently writes about domestic abuse in the Orthodox community and provided documents for this article.

The boy's family later moved from Brooklyn to the quieter Bobov community in Monsey. The family would not talk to Newsday, but a friend said the move was an effort to escape community pressure.

While Hynes' office was examining the boy's allegations, the Bobov community convened a rabbinical court, a bet din, to conduct its own investigation.

The child's uncle later complained that rabbis on the bet din had asked the family to sign a document saying the boy was crazy so that they could get the criminal case thrown out. Several members of the bet din either did not return calls from Newsday or declined to discuss the religious court's proceedings.

Meantime, according to the law enforcement source, Bobov rabbis appeared in Hynes office' to plead in Hafner's defense.

Hynes' spokesman Schmetterer would not confirm or deny that such meetings took place, but he said it is not unusual for Hynes' office to meet with community leaders on cases.

After the bet din decision, the five-member panel posted notices throughout Borough Park clearing Hafner. "Rabbi Hafner's comportment with [the child] has been in complete accordance with both Torah law and the law of the land, and a parent should not hesitate to engage Rabbi Hafner as a tutor for his/her child."

With intense pressure from the community common in such cases, families also come under indirect pressure not to go public with their cases.

The social stigma attached to being the victim of sexual abuse in the general public is magnified within the Hasidic community, sources said, so much so that Hasidic victims can find it difficult to marry within the community.

And, as with sex-abuse allegations generally, parents fear causing further psychological damage to their children by placing them on the stand.

In 1995, for instance, Hynes' office charged Rabbi Lewis Brenner with repeatedly sexually abusing a boy starting in 1992 and ending in 1995, when the boy, then 15, told police. Among other places, the alleged encounters occurred in the bathroom of the rabbi's Brooklyn temple.

In a statement to the court, the boys' devastated parents said he could not even attend school, he was so troubled by "a raging cyclone of hate."

"Our son is with us physically today, but his self-respect, dignity and sense of worth were stolen from him at the tender age of 12," the boys' parents said. "Do you realize that you destroyed a world and our family, Mr. Brenner? You have stolen from our son the very essence of his life, his hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future."

The charges against Brenner initially included 14 counts, including sodomy, sexual abuse, and endangering the welfare of a minor. But a plea agreement whittled the charges down to one felony, stunning a Brooklyn judge.

"Given the nature, gravity and frequency of the sexual contact alleged in the felony complaint, this court was surprised by the People's plea offer and requested of the prosecutor a statement why it was forthcoming," said acting Supreme Court Justice Charles J. Heffernan in a court ruling.

The district attorney's office told the judge that the boy's family agreed to the plea bargain ... Recently, an official of the district attorney's office said the family did not want to go through with a trial.

The plea arrangement left Brenner a free man -- he got 5 years probation.

Brenner is the father-in-law of Ephraim Bryks, a Queens rabbi who was the subject of a story in Newsday on Tuesday.

Two teenagers told Canadian police years ago that Bryks abused them when they were youngsters. Bryks has never been charged with a crime and has denied the allegations.

After Brenner's plea deal, he asked the court to exempt him from the sexual abuse registry on grounds that his behavior occurred before the law was passed.

Heffernan refused.

 
At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was extremely sleazy of "The Jewish voice and Opinion" to print child Orbach's name without her permission. But it seems that this rag has their priorities screwed up. They had an agenda for their story, ie bash the Orthodox community and its institutions, and the facts had to fit their agenda. Of course throw in the "poor mother who was abused by the system". However, in reality the mother is the abuser here. Though she was granted visitation rights she CHOSE not to visit her daughter specifically to make the whole thing more dramatic. The child and the father, who had his reputation smeared by this psycho mother, are the real victims. The "JVAO" has done this before and they should be brought to task.

 
At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Marty said...

This whole story is a bunch of lies. The Orbach child, now an accomplished adult of 24, my niece, is finally speaking out. Susan received an email from "the child". Wonder if she will publish it "in whole" in next issue. Meanwhile she will be kept busy with litigations that will be leveled against her.

 
At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Michael Lesher said...

I note that someone who will not disclose his name has accused Amy Neustein on this site of having "severe psychological issues." I suspect it was the same writer (though under a different moniker) who characterized The Jewish Voice and Opinion's article about her tragic (and illegal) separation from her daughter by the Family Court system as "lies."

Both assertions are false and defamatory. I know Amy Neustein well -- she and I are co-authors of a book on the family court system due to appear May 1, published by the University Press of New England -- and she certainly does not suffer from any sort of mental illness, as I'm sure the poster is well aware. As for the article, if it contained "lies," doubtless the poster could have identified one. He did not, and it does not.

I believe I also know the poster, and I think he would be well advised to learn the legal definitions of "libel" and "slander" before posting knowingly false charges on the Internet.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home