The Reichman case is not isolated. Four ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Brooklyn have been sued or arrested for abusing boys in the past three years. That’s a tiny fraction of the actual abuse, says Hella Winston, author of
. She says that in researching her book, she encountered dozens of alleged victims who told her sexual abuse is an open secret in the Hasidic community. But the community is so insulated and the rabbis are so powerful that few dare to come forward.
“If I become known as an informer, then people also won’t want to have anything to do with my family,” she explains. “They won’t want to marry my children, won’t want to give me a job. This is the fear.”
But more and more accusations against rabbis have begun to circulate….
[Brooklyn District Attorney Charles] Hynes says the Jewish leaders — like Catholic bishops — try to handle these affairs internally, through a rabbinical court. It’s a practice that infuriates him.
“You have no business taking these cases to religious tribunals,” Hynes says. “They are either civil or criminal in nature. Or both. Your obligation is to bring these allegations to us and let us conduct the investigation.”
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