In a move that advocates for sex abuse victims in the Orthodox community have long urged, the Brooklyn district attorney has launched an investigation into witness tampering in connection with a high-profile abuse case, The Jewish Week has learned.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the investigation by Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson’s office relates to the case of chasidic cantor Baruch Lebovits. His 2010 prosecution and conviction for child sexual abuse and subsequent 10 2/3-to-32-year prison sentence caused a firestorm in the chasidic community, where rumors about him had circulated for years.
In 2012, Lebovits’ conviction was vacated because of a prosecution error, and a new trial was ordered. Ultimately, in 2014, Lebovits pleaded guilty to the charges and was given a two-year sentence; with credit for time served and good behavior, he spent only a few additional months in jail.
The 2012 reversal of Lebovits’ initial conviction came a year after another man, Samuel Kellner, was indicted for bribing a witness to falsely testify against Lebovits and attempting to extort the Lebovits family in exchange for a promise he would persuade the witnesses against Lebovits to withdraw their charges.
Read more: The Jewish Week