7/12/13

"Justice for Kellner" Protest at Brooklyn D.A.'s Office

Chaim Levin, an Orthodox Jewish activist from Crown Heights, organized a demonstration yesterday outside Brooklyn D.A. Charlie Hynes's office at 350 Jay Street in downtown Brooklyn to protest the prosecution of Sam Kellner, who outed prominent Borough Park cantor/travel agent Baruch Lebovits to the Brooklyn D.A.'s office as a serial child sexual abuser.

At the demonstration, Levin called on Hynes to dismiss the "disturbing" case against Kellner, which, he said, is "falling apart" anyway.

In 2008, Kellner came to Hynes's office -- with the permission of a beit din in Monsey -- after learning that Lebovits had sexually molested his son.  When an NYPD detective told him there wasn't enough evidence for a felony charge, Kellner identified two other young Orthodox men who reported being molested by Lebovits.

Subsequently tried and convicted on 8 counts of child molestation, Lebovits, represented by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz and former Hynes assistant district attorney Arthur Aidala, has never served time.

Lebovits' conviction has been reversed and remanded by the New York Court of Appeals and the case sent back to Hynes's office for retrial, scheduled after the Democratic Primary this fall.

When the second of the two additional victims Kellner identified in the Lebovits case allegedly recanted and accused Kellner of bribing him, the Brooklyn D.A.'s Rackets Bureau, headed by Michael Vecchione, charged Kellner with trying to extort money from Lebovits.

The victim has now recanted again, clearing Kellner.  The latest story is that community activist Zalman Ashkenazi, reportedly a close ally of Lebovits, has been paying off the victim.

Chaim Levin, himself a victim of child sexual abuse, called Hynes's prosecution of Kellner a "frightening" precedent in light of the prevailing "culture of silence" in the ultra-Orthodox community. Prosecuting Kellner, Levin said, will keep ultra-Orthodox victims of child sexual abuse from coming forward.

Protesters interviewed at yesterday's event saw a connection between Lebovits' power in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and the Rackets Bureau's prosecution of Kellner.  Hynes, in a hotly-contested primary race, is politically dependent upon the ultra-Orthodox community's bloc vote.

Hynes is so worried about his chances of winning this fall's election that he is seeking both the Republican and the Conservative ballot lines as insurance.

During yesterday's protest at his office, Hynes was hosting a press conference to announce the Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights prostitution sweep.

The post from Gothamist.

More from Jewish Week.

Dov Hikind joins Kellner's cause.

More from the New York Times.

More from Jewish Week/

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