At least eight sex abuse cases identified by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office as Kol Tzedek cases were actually reported years before the advent of the confidential hotline, The Jewish Week has learned. This information calls into question the reliability of the statistics the DA has used to tout the success of the hotline.
The Jewish Week submitted a list of more than 30 names to the Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes, asking for confirmation of those who were reported through Kol Tzedek, which was established by the DA in April of 2009 to encourage the reporting of sexual abuse among Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jews.
In statements to the media, Hynes has claimed that approximately 90 people were reported through the hotline since its advent, 14 of whom have been convicted.
The DA has for months refused to divulge the names of those reported through Kol Tzedek, but recently agreed to confirm cases if given names by The Jewish Week.
A perusal of the list indicates that several defendants, including Stefan Colmer, Yehuda Kolko and Yona Weinberg were all arrested well before Kol Tzedek existed. The Jewish Week found five others who were arrested before the program began. Some of these cases were even concluded well before Kol Tzedek existed.
Further, The Jewish Week has learned that many of the cases Hynes is classifying as a part of Kol Tzedek were not in fact reported through the hotline, but came to the attention of the DA through either the police or his office’s sex crimes unit.
When asked why cases that were reported before the advent of Kol Tzedek are now considered a part of it, DA spokesman Jerry Schmetterer told The Jewish Week that the DA “made them part of Kol Tzedek.”
Asked to clarify by what criteria that decision was made, Schmetterer replied that he had “no further comment.”