A Brooklyn fishmonger was arrested for throwing a cup of bleach in the face of a Chasidic rabbi who advocates for victims of sexual abuse in the haredi Orthodox community.
Meilech Schnitzler, 36, of Williamsburg, turned himself in to police on Wednesday afternoon, The New York Times reported. He was charged with felony assault, misdemeanor assault, menacing, criminal mischief and criminal possession of a weapon.
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg on Tuesday was walking down the street in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he lives, when a man approached him from behind, tapped him on his shoulder and threw a chemical believed to be bleach in his face, according to reports.
Rosenberg, 62, was treated for burns on his face, around his eyes and in his left eye. He is expected to make a full recovery.
The rabbi runs a website and blog for sex-abuse victims, as well as a telephone hot line.
Rosenberg reportedly had recognized his assailant, who comes from the Satmar Chasidic community, as does Rosenberg. He had accused Schnitzler’s father on his blog of being a sexual predator, according to The New York Times.
Rabbi Rosenberg has earned a reputation as a renegade in his community for taking public stands against sexual abuse committed by chasidim and other haredi Jews.
The attack came a day after Nechamya Weberman, a prominent member of the Satmar community who works as an unlicensed therapist, was convicted on 59 counts of sexual abuse of a young Chasidic girl.
Rabbi Rosenberg has earned heavy criticism, and earlier physical attacks, in Satmar circles – which often defend accused abusers – for speaking out against suspected rapists and molesters on a website and Facebook page.
The attack this week was probably related to the Weberman conviction, Rabbi Rosenberg told the Times.