Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Legal system has failed Sam Kellner - who helped convict Lebovits

Jewish Week     While it would seem a good bet that Sam Kellner’s dizzying, three-year legal odyssey may finally come to an end this week with a dismissal of his criminal case, the chasidic abuse whistleblower is not holding his breath. It’s easy to understand why. The way things have been going, there probably isn’t a bookie in Vegas who would take any action on that wager.

“The former trial prosecutors twice wanted to dismiss my case and were overruled. And now we have a new [Brooklyn] district attorney in office [Kenneth Thompson], and he is taking almost six weeks to review it. And so I am still an indicted person. How do you like it?,” Kellner, 52, asks matter of factly, before tallying up how many judges, prosecutors and district attorneys have presided over his case — four, five and two respectively, with a new judge expected this week. (At a hearing scheduled for Friday, prosecutors are expected to let the judge know whether they are moving to dismiss the case or will take it to trial.)

“I must be a very dangerous guy,” he adds, his sense of the absurd fully in tact.

Dangerous indeed. In 2011, a year after helping the district attorney convict a serial chasidic child molester named Baruch Lebovits, whose alleged victims include Kellner’s own son, Kellner found himself under arrest. He was charged with having several years earlier paid one young man to falsely testify in a grand jury that he was abused by Lebovits, and with sending emissaries to attempt to extort the Lebovits family for hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for a promise he could persuade the witnesses against him to drop their charges.

The state’s convoluted case against Kellner, originally brought by then District Attorney Charles Hynes, was shaky from the start; it was based solely on “evidence” brought directly to the DA’s Rackets Division by members of the well-connected Lebovits family, their supporters and paid agents, all seemingly in the service of getting Lebovits’ conviction overturned.

The case took a blow last summer, when the man who accused Kellner of paying him to fabricate his charges contradicted his initial story in interviews with prosecutors — admitting, among other things, that Lebovits “could have molested” him and that he never received money from Kellner. The flip-flop destroyed his credibility and led the trial prosecutors to make their first recommendation that the case be dismissed.

Kellner’s prosecutors could have been spared this embarrassment had they consulted with their colleagues in the Sex Crimes Unit before seeking his indictment. Those prosecutors had strong evidence to suggest this young man was most probably a genuine Lebovits victim who was intimidated out of testifying against him at trial, and later manipulated into accusing Kellner; for reasons that remain mysterious, they failed to do so.

But by the time this witness imploded, Kellner’s case had become tangled up in a hotly contested DA’s race among longtime incumbent Hynes and two challengers, Abe George and Thompson, and its adjudication took a back seat to politics. And so his prosecution continued, surviving a second attempt at dismissal after Hynes lost the election to Thompson; at that time, Hynes’ controversial deputy, Michael Vecchione, himself awash in misconduct allegations, demoted the trial prosecutors rather than accept their recommendation that the case be dropped. (It is worth noting that Lebovits’ trial attorney, Arthur Aidala, has close ties to both Vecchione and Hynes).

The saga of Kellner’s case, and all that preceded his arrest, encompasses both a narrative of positive change within the chasidic community and a cautionary tale.

Unlike so many chasidic parents who discover their children have been sexually abused but remain too fearful to act, Kellner wasted no time in seeking protection and redress for his son. And he did so according to the rules of his community by first consulting with rabbis. When they deemed the situation beyond their ability to address, he received a rare dispensation to go to the police. [...]


  1. This is the Yad Hashem meting out justice to a moser.

    1. It is incredible how ignorant some of my readers are and what poor reading comprehension they have.

      Sam Kellner was given rabbinic approval for his going to the police.

    2. Interesting that if you want to not 'LET' the Molester continue in his destructive path, you take the L,E,T, out of M O L E S T E R, and you are left being called a MO(le)S(t)ER = MOSER.

      So 'am' believes we should just LET. Maybe because 'AM' Himself 'IS' a molester too.

    3. "R. Johanan said: Since the Temple was destroyed, prophecy has been taken from prophets and given to fools and children." Bava Basra 12b

  2. Its also yad hashem that weingarten, ben porat ,weberman,rubashkin,weinstein,etc are in jail


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