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A suspected Brooklyn pedophile extradited from Israel to the US under a revised extradition treaty was arraigned and held on $10-million bail on Tuesday.
Stefan Colmer was indicted by a Brooklyn grand jury on charges that he sodomized two 13-year-old boys from the haredi Jewish community in Brooklyn where he lived.
To avoid arrest, Colmer, a computer technician and salesman, fled to Israel, where he has been hiding under the name David Cohen.
A revamped extradition treaty between the United States and Israel, which went into effect January 10, 2007, allowed Colmer to be returned to Brooklyn. Prior to the newly amended treaty, Israel and the US had agreed to extradite suspected sex criminals only if they had been charged with rape. Since last January, at least two other sex offenders have been extradited, including Michael Leon Zeve and Kenneth Frank.
"Until now, Israel has been a Mecca for sex offenders," said Vicki Polin, founder and executive director of The Awareness Center, the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault.
The indictment charges that between March and May 2006, Colmer sodomized two teenage boys on numerous occasions, after luring them to his home from a nearby yeshiva high school, according to the US extradition request.
Colmer is charged with eight counts of criminal sexual acts in the second degree, eight counts of sexual misconduct, 19 counts of sexual abuse in the second degree and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
In the Orthodox world, "the status quo has been to protect offenders' parnassa [income] and not shame family members, at the expense of shaming those who have been victimized," said Polin, who has been working in the sexual violence field for 25 years.
The new treaty may also allow for the extradition of Avrohom Mondrowitz, who claimed to be a rabbi and posed as a school psychologist in Boro Park during the late 1970s and early 80s. He was indicted in 1984 for sodomizing young boys, and he fled to Israel after learning he was under investigation. Since then, Mondrowitz has remained in Israel, protected by the now-defunct treaty. He was recently arrested there, pursuant to the amended treaty, and extradition proceedings are pending.
Michael Lesher, an Orthodox lawyer representing six of Mondrowitz's alleged victims and actively pursuing his extradition, has been facing intense pushback.
"I continued to bang on the door about Mondrowitz, but I am operating against tremendous institutional logic," said Lesher. "He should have been first to be extradited years ago. When they arrested Colmer, I think they were testing the waters."
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