US ultra-Orthodox Jew appears in Jerusalem court

Abraham Mondrowitz, who fled the US two decades ago, is accused of abusing dozens of children.

Mondrowitz 224.88 (photo credit: ABC)
Mondrowitz 224.88
(photo credit: ABC)
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man who fled the United States for Israel two decades ago to avoid sexual abuse charges was brought to court in Jerusalem on Sunday, a step toward his possible extradition. Abraham Mondrowitz, 60, a member of the Gur Hasidic Jewish sect, was arrested in Jerusalem on Friday for allegedly abusing dozens of children at his unlicensed private clinic at his Brooklyn, New York home during the 1980s. He fled to Israel in 1985 as police were investigating charges against him. At the downtown Jerusalem court building, Mondrowitz - small, slightly stooped and dressed in a black suit - was led into the hearing room with hands and ankles shackled, while four burly guards in khaki uniforms stood watched at the door. The judge extended Mondrowitz's detention until November 27, at which point he will decide whether Mondrowitz will remain in jail or be placed under house arrest. Mondrowitz's attorney, David Ofek, said he plans to appeal the decision to keep Mondrowitz in custody. "The state didn't take action for 25 years, so they cannot bring the case back (now)," Ofek said, adding that he has seen no medical reports indicating abuse. Two months ago the United States resubmitted an extradition request first made in 1985, months after Mondrowitz fled Brooklyn for Israel, said the spokesman for the Israeli Justice Ministry, Moshe Cohen. The renewed US request came after Israel and the United States amended their extradition treaty to include all crimes whose punishment is more than one year imprisonment, according to the Israeli state prosecutor's office. Before the change that took effect in January, the extradition treaty between Israel and the United States did not include sodomy. Sunday's ruling followed an expose on Mondrowitz in Haaretz's weekend magazine, which first appeared Thursday, a day before the arrest. The paper reported that the statute of limitations does not apply to crimes in which the suspect has fled to avoid charges.