Forward Thinking

Orthodox Opposition to No-Names Policy

By Paul Berger

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Charles Hynes

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes can usually count on the firm support of the ultra-Orthodox umbrella group Agudath Israel of America.

While Hynes has been lambasted over the years by child abuse survivors and their advocates for his handling of sex abuse cases, Agudath has generally backed what it sees as his sensitive handling of abuse cases in the community.

Not this week.

The Forward asked Agudath what it made of the D.A.’s blanket refusal to name 85 Orthodox Jews charged with sex crimes.

The D.A.’s office denied the Forward’s Freedom of Information Law request by claiming that all Orthodox Jewish sex abuse suspects should have their identities protected because of the community’s “tight-knit and insular” nature.

Rabbi David Zwiebel, Agudath’s executive vice president and a legal expert, defended the D.A.’s right to evaluate whether to release the names of offenders on a case-by-case basis, according to Agudath spokesman Rabbi Avi Shafran.

Such an evaluation could take into account whether naming the suspect might allow the victim to be identified. But a blanket policy of withholding names of perpetrators should not be “across the board” in any community, he said.

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