Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Abuse victims hope healing begins with rabbi's arrest!
BY NANCIE L. KATZ
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, October 17th 2007, 4:00 AM
For too long, an alleged Brooklyn pedophile rabbi's victims have waited for their silencing to end. Now, they hope his prosecution will push their closed community to out child molesters.
Twenty-three years after Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz fled to Jerusalem to evade charges of molesting four boys, Israel's ministry of justice now has an extradition request from Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, his spokesman said.
"It's a shame it took so long. People committed suicide over him," said a 44-year-old man who says the popular rabbi abused him and his friends in the 1970s.
"If they did this a lot earlier, there would have been a lot more people saved because other child molesters would get the message. This will send the message."
In the hush-hush Orthodox Jewish community, victims say Mondrowitz left a trail of destroyed lives during his tenure as a rabbi/psychologist and headmaster in Brooklyn during the 1970s and early 1980s.
Former District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman tried to get him extradited in the 1980s, but a U.S. Justice Department official said the extradition treaty with Israel made it hard - until changes last January - to forward the request to Jerusalem.
Hynes, who took office in 1989, had been slammed for failing to go after Mondrowitz. Critics charged he feared losing the powerful Orthodox Jewish vote. But his spokesman denied the allegations, saying Hynes moved swiftly once a treaty change allowed Israel to recognize the 1985 sodomy counts.
An Israeli Justice official declined comment, as did Mondrowitz, contacted at his Jerusalem home.
One alleged victim was only 11 when he described Mondrowitz, who headed his alternative Jewish boys' school, as befriending him, giving him money and taking him to movies and his mountain cabin.
Soon, he began taking friends, he said.
"He used to talk us all up. He did a lot of things to entice kids," he said. "I used to bring kids to his house. He'd grab kids in front of me, in his office.
"It affected me a long time," he said. "I felt I was taken."
The victim, not named in the indictment, said he believed hundreds of boys were fondled by Mondrowitz, and saw dozens himself.
A 39-year-old rabbi filed a complaint last year, accusing Mondrowitz of abusing him when he was 11. He charged that pedophiles are still free to ruin lives in the closed Orthodox community, where leaders routinely silence victims to avoid scandal.
"There are probably more kids harmed in this community than any other because everything is placed under the rug," he said. "They throw a kid out of school if he complains. "This will send a message: You can run away and hide and you can think it is forgotten, but eventually it will hunt you down and get you. That is very important. It is a deterrent we never had."
PLEASE CALL THE D.A.'S OFFICE (718-250-2000) TO LET OFFICIALS KNOW THAT WE ARE GRATEFUL TO THEM FOR CHANGING THEIR POSITION! WE INTEND TO HAVE THEIR FULL COOPERATION IN THE FUTURE; IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO SHOW HAKOROS HATOV!
EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT ; PLEASE E-MAIL NANCIE KATZ AND THANK HER FOR HER FINE REPORTING ON THIS ISSUE!
Hynes Now Seeks Mondrowitz Extradition
by Staff Report - The Jewish Week - October 19, 2007
A change in the extradition treaty between Israel and the United States has led to a request for custody of a Brooklyn rabbi accused of sexually abusing former students, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz has remained in Jerusalem for 23 years since leaving the country amid allegations that the former counselor and yeshiva principal molested four boys.
A spokesman for DA Charles J. Hynes on Wednesday said a request for the return for Rabbi Mondrowitz came in February, shortly after the State Department and Israel’s Ministry of Justice agreed to broaden the spectrum of crimes under which extradition from Israel will be allowed.
“As soon as the treaty was changed allowing extradition on the charges he faces, we moved to have him extradited,” said the spokesman, Jerry Schmetterer. The request was first reported last week in the New York Daily News.
The exact charges on which Rabbi Mondrowitz is suspected are contained in a sealed indictment, Schmetterer said.
Hynes has been under consistent pressure from victims’ advocates who speculated that he was afraid of losing support among Orthodox voters if he put Rabbi Mondrowitz on trial. But Schmetterer said, “We have always said over the years that we never lost sight of the case, but the treaty didn’t allow for extradition.” He said Israel’s Ministry of Justice was now “working hard” to fulfill the request.
An advocate for victims of abuse who has been closely monitoring the Mondrowitz case, Amy Neustein, said she felt “exhilarated” by the prospect of an extradition. “I hope this will be the beginning of healing for the Jewish community, and after 20 years of political agitation from advocates and victims, justice will finally prevail,” she said.
When reached by a Daily News reporter in Jerusalem, Rabbi Mondrowitz had no comment.
US wants extradition of prominent Ger hassid accused of sodomy
By MATTHEW WAGNER - The Jerusalem Post
The Brooklyn District Attorney's office has requested the extradition of Avrohom Mondrowitz, a resident of Jerusalem and a prominent member of the Ger Hassidic sect, on child molestation charges dating back over two decades involving four boys aged 11 to 16.
The extradition request was made in January, according to Brooklyn District Attorney's Office spokesman Jerry Schmetterer. "We know that the US Department of Justice and the State Department have begun the extradition process," said Schmetterer. "It is also our understanding that the Israeli Justice Ministry has been contacted as well."
The Justice Ministry declined to comment.
Mondrowitz, who was contacted by telephone by The Jerusalem Post, hung up as soon as the reporter identified himself.
However, a prominent member of the Ger community in Jerusalem defended Mondrowitz.
"There are people who are trying to disparage Mondrowitz's name," said the source.
"Mondrowitz is a very intelligent, talented man and so are all of his children. His father is highly respected in the community. I can't believe these stories are true.
The source said Mondrowitz was in the computer business.
Mondrowitz worked for a short period at the Jerusalem College of Technology as a fund-raiser and at the Jerusalem College of Engineering as a lecturer.
The Post has also learned that Dep.-Cmdr. Avi Aviv of the National Fraud Squad's Cyber Crimes Division is conducting an investigation against Mondrowitz.
Mondrowitz, who was born in Tel Aviv in 1947 and later moved with his family to Chicago, arrived in Brooklyn in the late 1970s and presented himself to Orthodox educational institutions as a rabbi and clinical psychologist.
He provided psychological treatment to children from the mixed Jewish-Italian Borough Park neighborhood where he lived. He also opened a yeshiva for children with behavioral problems.
Four children, all from Italian families and all neighbors of Mondrowitz, complained of sexual abuse perpetrated by Mondrowitz. Jewish victims also eventually testified against him, but only after the statute of limitations had expired.
In 1985, a New York State court charged Mondrowitz with eight counts of child abuse in the first degree, endangering the welfare of a child and five counts of sodomy in the first degree.
Mondrowitz and his family fled to Jerusalem after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
At the time of the indictment, sodomy of boys was not an extraditable crime, since it was not defined as rape under Israeli law. In 1988, the Knesset changed that law, apparently opening the way for Mondrowitz's extradition.
The Brooklyn DA's office said Mondrowitz could not be extradited until this year, when the Knesset approved a law removing the impediments to retroactively applying the 1988 law.
But Michael Lesher, an attorney representing six men who say they were molested by Mondrowitz in the early 1980s but who were not included in the original indictment, said the extradition was delayed due to officials, especially Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, dragging their feet.
Lesher claims that Hynes balked due to heavy pressure to drop the case from the Orthodox community in Brooklyn, which supported Mondrowitz despite the fact that Israel's Edah Haredit Rabbinic Court issued a ruling in 1988 in which unnamed "insidious acts" committed by Mondrowitz were mentioned, and warning him to stay away from children.
"Hynes was elected in 1989 with strong Orthodox support," Lesher said in an e-mailed message. "He appointed a virtually all-Orthodox Jewish Advisory Council after being elected, and he reversed the policy of his predecessor, Elizabeth Holtzman, and did not press for Mondrowitz's return to face trial.
In September 1993, Hynes instructed the federal government to close its file on Mondrowitz and said he would not pursue the case while Mondrowitz remained in Israel.
Lesher said he was "elated" to see the district attorney finally moving to extradite Mondrowitz. "All my clients hope that Mondrowitz will at last be brought to justice."
In response to Lesher's claims, Schmetterer said extradition was impossible until the Knesset acted this year.
But in past news reports on delays, Hynes's office was quoted as providing a different explanation. Sources were cited saying that despite the changes in Israeli law, the extradition request could not be made retroactively.