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Is a New York district attorney too lenient on sexual abuse allegations for some?

Sex offenses in some ultra-Orthodox communities in New York are seen as a community matter in which the police should not play a role. Some advocacy groups are arguing that one district attorney shares these views. Groups are criticizing Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes for failing to pursue cases of sexual abuse in ultra-Orthodox communities and for being too lenient on accusations against rabbis and other members of the community.

The district attorney grew up in area with a high population of ultra-Orthodox Jews. During his career, his connections with them has led to votes that allowed him to win public elections.

In response to criticism, the DA founded an outreach group to help abused children in the ultra-Orthodox community. According to their office, it has had great results, but others in the community are more skeptical.

One member of the ultra-orthodox community was charged with 24 counts of sex offenses after accusations of groping and raping young girls, but even with a handwritten confession he did not receive any jail time. A rabbi who taught at a Yeshiva was sentenced to three years probation on a misdemeanor charge despite years of allegations of sexual abuse.

These types of cases, combined with the district attorney's seemingly complacent attitude towards the wishes of the ultra-Orthodox community, has sparked outrage from the victims, their families and victims' rights groups.

One rabbi informed the district attorney that before allegations of sexual abuse would be reported to the police, they first had to be confirmed by a rabbi, and as of yet, Mr. Hynes has shown no public opposition to this community rule.

Mr. Hynes held a Hanukkah party attended by many ultra-Orthodox rabbis, religious leaders and a few victims' rights advocates. One advocate observed that with the influence the rabbis had on the district attorney, they would continue to be able to make such rules.

Source: The New York Times, For Ultra-Orthodox in Abuse Cases, Prosecutor Has Different Rules, by Ray Rivera and Sharon Otterman, May 10, 2012

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