Pols Rap Jewish Group On Rape Suit

Pols Rap Jewish Group On Rape Suit

Two Manhattan officials are criticizing the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services for arguing that the rape of an employee was a workplace injury, to be compensated by worker’s compensation rather than a civil judgment.

“I am asking that you immediately drop this offensive and sexist defense,” wrote Councilwoman Christine Quinn in a strongly worded letter to JBFCS.

Quinn, state Sen. Thomas Duane and representatives of the National Organization for Women protested outside the agency’s offices last week because JBFCS has argued in civil proceedings that it is not liable for the August 1997 rape of a former employee, identified only as Eva.

The victim claims security was inadequate at the Brooklyn Community Residence mental health facility where, working alone, she was thrown down a flight of stairs, raped and beaten unconscious by an assailant who remains at large. Claiming the attack was preventable, Eva is seeking unspecified damages from JBFCS.

“It is very clear that this incident is covered under workers’ compensation law,” said Ellen Josem, general counsel for the agency. “There are people and groups that wish the law were different and are working to change the law, and we understand and appreciate that. However, under worker’s compensation the plaintiff is entitled to receive economic recompense without having to prove fault or negligence.”

Duane is pushing legislation, proposed by his predecessor, Catherine Abate, that would prohibit employers from using workers comp as a shield from civil liability for a rape or sexual assault.

Duane and Quinn, both Democrats, believe the board’s defense sends the message that rape is a non-preventable work hazard.

“No one, least of all a charitable organization, should ever claim that a rape is an accident, a normal risk of employment or a natural job injury,” said Duane. “Rape is not all in a day’s work.”

The next mayoral election is more than two years away, but the Political Action Committee of Crown Heights already is issuing its endorsement. The nod goes to Fernando Ferrer, the Bronx Borough president who has yet to make an official announcement of his candidacy.

“We believe Freddy Ferrer best shows the compassion, experience and commitment to create a broad coalition of New Yorkers,” reads the endorsement, which came faxed with a cover sheet from the nonprofit Crown Heights Jewish Community Council.

The chairman of Community Board 9 in Crown Heights, Jacob Goldstein, said he was surprised to learn of the endorsement. “I am surprised more thought didn’t go into it, given the fact that it’s so far away and the borough president hasn’t even announced yet,” said Goldstein.

A member of the Jewish council, Hanina Sperlin, raised hackles recently when he declared in a Village Voice interview that Crown Heights would not entertain a campaign visit by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

A recent constituent mailing by state Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) is an inappropriate use of tax dollars, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group.

The mailing reproduces a clip from a local weekly detailing Kruger’s latest community adventures, but contains no information about what he is doing in the Legislature, and no telephone numbers to call for various emergencies — the usual stuff of constituent newsletters.

The mailer does, however, contain a lovely endorsement by Saul Needle of the Mill Island Civic Association that Kruger is “someone who fights for the people.”

“This takes the cake,” said Gene Russianoff of NYPIRG after reviewing the mailing. “It looks like campaign literature. I don’t think it’s an appropriate use of the franking privilege. It doesn’t offer any services or inform people about issues. It’s just filled with self-praise.”

Kruger, who represents Mill Basin and Sheepshead Bay, stands by his mailing. “Part of my job is letting my constituents know what I do. The best way I can communicate is through the mail, to let people know that I am walking against the wind and taking on special interests and big money guys.”

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan is generally known for intellectual insights and lofty erudition, but on at least one occasion in his career, he reportedly reacted viscerally to world events.

As U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 1975, Moynihan was furious when the General Assembly passed the infamous resolution equating Zionism with as racism. In a taped address to the Orthodox Union’s tribute to Moynihan Monday, Leonard Garment, a member of the American UN delegation, related that minutes after the resolution was passed, Moynihan approached his Israeli counterpart, Chaim Herzog, with two decidedly undiplomatic words of consolation.

The first word is unprintable, and was bleeped by the OU. The second word was “them.”

With the recent shooting at a Los Angeles Jewish community center no doubt in mind, 50 Jewish religious leaders were to join Brooklyn City Council members Tracy Boyland and Ken Fisher Thursday in calling for increased gun control legislation. The gathering at Brooklyn Borough Hall was to expand an interfaith program called Communities United Against Gun Violence.

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