Monday, December 12, 2011

An Orthodox Jewish community has had to face up to claims of child sex abuse after 83 men and two women were arrested

An initiative was set up to encourage victims to come forward despite pressure from the close-knit Jewish religious society to hush up the crimes. Some 117 male and female victims have approached authorities in Brooklyn, New York since 2006. There were 89 accusers under the age of 17. One suspect Andrew Goodman, 27, worked with Jewish charities involving vulnerable young people and the disabled. He was charged with sexually abusing two Orthodox boys at his home in the Flatbush neighborhood in September 2011. One child was abused between the ages of 11 and 15, the other from 13 until he was 16 years old. Goodman reportedly filmed sex acts with the boys on a webcam after plying them with alcohol in his bedroom and making them watch child porn. Neighbors had filmed Goodman sneaking the children into the home that he shared with his parents and sister. In the surveillance tape, Goodman was seen opening his front door for the boys. Lubricants, empty liquor bottles, boys’ clothing and a butcher knife were discovered in the 27-year-old's room. He also threatened the life of one boy who reported him to authorities. Goodman has pleaded not guilty. He is being held at Rikers Island Prison until his next hearing on December 21, 2011. After being shown the footage in court in September 2011, Judge Patricia DiMango set the pedophile's bail at $1 million. The Brooklyn District Attorney's office had been accused of being soft on Jewish child abusers which lead to steps being put in place to make it easier for suspected victims to come forward. The plan was called Kol Tzedek which translates from Hebrew as voice of justice. DA Charles Hynes instigated the outreach program which offers a confidential hot-line and access to culturally sensitive social workers from the sex crimes bureau. Assistant DA Rhonnie Jaus, head of the child sex abuse division, said that 38 individuals had been prosecuted so far with 14 abusers jailed. Sentences varied from one month to 20 years for crimes including sex abuse, attempted kidnapping and sodomy. However 24 pedophiles were not jailed. In some instances, the case against them collapsed when victims and their families backed out of giving evidence in court following pressure from the Jewish religious community, according to the assistant DA. Authorities have another 47 cases pending. The Orthodox Jewish organization Agudath Israel of America, which has its headquarters in Manhattan, rules that anyone who claims to have been sexually abused by another Jew must consult rabbis first. Only then is the decision made whether to go to secular authorities. Goodman worked for OHEL Children's Home and Family Services which provides care for vulnerable children and disabled adults. The non-profit group aims to help victims who have suffered domestic, sexual or emotional abuse.

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