Monday, July 31, 2006

My name is Michael Lesher-I've been devoting my legal efforts primarily to help abused children and parents who try to protect them

Published with permission granted by Michael Lesher

Dear UOJ:

My name is Michael Lesher, and I hope you've seen the recent spate of articles about my campaign to revive the case against Avrohom Mondrowitz. (New York Post, July 25; Village Voice, July 25; now the front page of Forward, July 28). I will be happy to forward to you any of these articles if you haven't yet seen them -- or you can get from the my web site, www.MichaelLesher.com, by going to the bottom of the "Press and Presentations" page and clicking on the relevant links.

I'm a ba'al t'shuva, a writer by preference and experience, also a lawyer, and (as you can see from the site) I've been devoting my legal efforts primarily to help abused children and parents who try to protect them -- but are getting a raw deal from the courts and/or the child welfare system. I'm co-author of From Madness to Mutiny: Why Mothers Are Running from the Family Courts -- and What Can Be Done about It (University Press of New England, 2005). I've written several articles and columns on child sex abuse, including child sex abuse in the Orthodox community. For the last eight years, I've made the Mondrowitz case one of my obsessions; I spent over two years fighting FOIA battles to get government documents that proved the Brooklyn D.A. had quietly allowed the case to wither, I've tried to get to the bottom of Mondrowitz's claims to have rabbinic support, I've even corresponded briefly with him. Now, after years of efforts during which I felt alone, I've been approached by four Mondrowitz victims in a few weeks, and I've been trying to use their voices -- and what I know -- to build a public outcry to ignite this case.

Why? First, because I suspect Mondrowitz may have abused as many as hundreds of children (who are now grown), most of them within the Orthodox community. Bringing him to justice could -- to the extent justice ever does -- heal a very large number of private wounds.

But I also believe it could heal public ones, for rarely has there been so heinous a case that suffered from so much PROVABLE mishandling on the part of the secular authorities. If they can be prodded into reopening the Mondrowitz case -- and I believe this is possible -- the truth that will emerge, I hope, is the story of a social and political crime. A crime all the uglier, I might add, because carried out against large numbers of a community's most helpless members -- in the name of the community.

I realize I'm writing a lot, and you probably have little time for this sort of thing. I write to you because I want to ask your help. I see that you've started a thread based on the recent Voice article. As a result of that article, Victim #4 has just called me. I am working for all such people free of charge for the sole objective of trying to bring this case to such brightly-lit, band-playing, rip-roaring public attention that no one, either in the Orthodox community or in public life in New York City, will be able to ignore it.

Could you let your bloggers know about me, let them know how eager I am to hear from more Mondrowitz victims, and make my contact information available to all? I can be emailed at mlesher@att.net, or through my web site (which I invite everyone to see to learn about me), MichaelLesher.com.

I know that there are many other abuse cases. But this is one of the unusual cases in my experiences (I've researched the case against Shlomo Hafner in great detail and know about some others, too) in which the existing legal criminal process (the man has been indicted, and as a fugitive could be tried at any time), the proven facts, the number of highly credible victims, and the stated (if disingenuous) position of the Brooklyn D.A. all make a prosecution possible. And if a prosecution really happens, I feel strongly that much more than a conviction against one man is likely. The trial and its accompanying publicity would likely bring to light a long history of inaction -- or active suppression of evidence -- on the part of important community "leaders." And that, I think, is where our interests likely intersect most decisively.

I apologize for the length of this note. Please let me know what you think. I'm new to blogging, but from what I've seen of your aims and your batting record, I'd like to be working with your aid.

Michael Lesher, Esq.
>(973) 470-0212

Update: Leizerowiz lives on Rechov Yechezkel 102, and is trying to get a job in a Yeshiva in Jerusalem called Hasmodos Hatorah.