The uspet defeat of long-serving Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes was celebrated Wednesday by activists for Jewish victims of sex abuse.
“Hynes had to go,” said Mark Meyer Appel, founder of Voice of Justice, who has waged a long campaign to see Hynes defeated, believing he has not adequately prosecuted child molesters within the politically powerful Brooklyn ultra-Orthodox community. “I’m very happy.”
“The election result sends a clear message that the people of Brooklyn want to see fairness, not special treatment, and that when the people choose to speak at the polls, the chasidic bloc vote — which went to Hynes — becomes irrelevant,” said Ben Hirsch, co-founder of Survivors for Justice, an organization that advocates and educates on issues related to child safety.
“Hynes’ record on Orthodox child sex abuse, combined with the growing prosecutorial misconduct scandals, cost him the election,” Hirsch said. “Brooklyn’s Orthodox community was cynically used by Hynes for political ends.”
Hynes, in office since 1989, lost the Democratic nomination to Ken Thompson, a litigator making his first bid for public office, by a large margin, 55-45 percent. Although he is also on the Republican and Conservative ballots, he said he would not continue his campaign.
Thompson built his campaign on accusations that Hynes let politics interfere with prosecuting criminals. He won an important endorsement in Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who has also been critical of Hynes treatment of Orthodox abuse cases.
David Greenfield, an Orthodox city councilman representing those areas, campaigned for the incumbent.
“The turning point in the race was a year ago when the Times did a full-page spread and a major piece on sex abuse and Kol Tzedek,” said Appel, referring to the controversial hotline set up to field complaints of Orthodox abuse. “The Jewish Week was also constantly on top of it. There is a new hope for the Jewish community. We should have equal justice, no more and no less.”
Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said a long incumbency was the main challenge for Hynes. “Joe Hynes was running against ‘been around too long,’ “ Sheinkopf said. “ ‘Been around too long’ won. It could have been Thompson, or it could have been a gefilte fish.”
He said that while Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau, who left office two years ago, served far longer, “Morgenthau didn’t have the problems that Hynes did, with dustup after dustup on child abuse and his failure to stop detectives from abusive behavior on confessions and faulty evidence.”
According to the Daily News, Hynes told supporters Tuesday night: “The Democratic voters of the county, today, viewed (my) record, compared it with the record of former federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson and decided to change directions.”