Community pressure may have stymied NYPD investigation into haredi assailant

By
February 25, 2016 17:04

The suspect, an unnamed twenty-year-old haredi man who is said to come from a prominent family, turned himself in earlier this week after the NYPD released security camera footage of him.

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NYPD investigate an ultra-orthodox man for abduction.

NYPD investigate an ultra-orthodox man for abduction.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A police investigation into an ultra-Orthodox man believed to have attempted to abduct a Brooklyn teenager was closed this week, after the victim stopped cooperating with police due to communal pressure, the New York Daily News reported on Wednesday.

The suspect, an unnamed 20-year-old haredi man who is said to come from a prominent family, turned himself in earlier this week after the NYPD released security camera footage of him.

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The suspect accosted the 14-year-old girl in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn last Tuesday, attempting to physically restrain her and demanding that she come with him, until a third party intervened.

Despite the suspect turning himself in, however, police sources who spoke with the New York newspaper asserted that no further probe into the matter is in the works, as the family of the victim “stopped cooperating with the cops.”

The unnamed sources said that the suspect was the son of a yeshiva dean and grandson of an “influential rabbi” and explained that communal pressure was responsible for the family’s decision to cease cooperating with law enforcement.

Victims rights advocates in the ultra-Orthodox community have long complained of a cover-up culture in which sexual abusers are sheltered from police, while victims are intimidated into keeping silent.

“If the NYDN story is accurate, then it is yet another very public display of a far-too-common occurrence in our community: Brave victims and their families being harassed and intimidated into silence,” Meyer Seewald, the founder of Jewish Community Watch, an organization dedicated to combating child sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

“The threats of not being able to find a shidduch (match) or being thrown out of yeshiva are powerful and allow hundreds of predators to escape justice, continuing on to rape and molest countless more innocent victims,” he continued.

“Thank God we have made much progress over the past five years or so, with an increasing number of rabbis and community leaders who are encouraging their followers to report abuse to the authorities.

Unfortunately, there are still many who concern themselves more with the shielding of abusers and predators than with the protecting of our precious children.”

Seewald called on the victim and her family to contact his organization, promising to “support them in every way possible.”

If the reports are correct, the case in question is “consistent with what we’ve seen happen elsewhere,” confirmed victims rights advocate Manny Waks.

Waks, who played a key role in exposing abuse within the ultra-Orthodox school system in his native Australia, said that often when allegations surface “community turns on the alleged victim and their family.”

“From what we’ve seen until now, it makes little difference who the alleged perpetrator is – the imperative is often to simply cover it up at all costs. This must cease. Victims should feel supported and empowered to come forward,” he asserted.

During Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse last year, it emerged that several local community leaders suppressed information relating to child molestation, leading to a split within the country’s rabbinate and calls for reforming local schools’ procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse.

“A culture of cover-up, often couched in religious terms, pervaded our thinking and our actions,” one senior rabbi told the commission, which heard testimony relating to the social ostracism that victims and their families faced after coming forward.


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