NEW YORK (JTA) — Citing “unique” circumstances, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office will not release the names of 85 Chasidic men charged with committing child sex abuse, the Jewish Daily Forward reported.
In an April 16 letter to the Forward denying a request under the New York State Freedom of Information Law, Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Morgan Dennehy wrote that releasing the identities of the suspected offenders would allow others in the “tight-knit” Chasidic communities to also identify the abused children.
“Because all of the requested defendant names relate to Chasidic men who are alleged to have committed sex crimes against Chasidic victims within a very tight-knit and insular Brooklyn community, there is a significant danger that the disclosure of the defendants’ names would lead members of that community to discern the identities of the victims,” Dennehy wrote in the letter, citing the state’s civil rights laws.
Dennehy added that releasing the suspects’ names could harm a hotline the DA office set up three years ago to encourage Chasidic abuse victims to anonymously report abuse. The hotline is called Kol Tzedek, which means “voice of justice” in Hebrew.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has refused to release the names of suspected Chasidic and Orthodox Jewish sex criminals for years, but according to the Forward this is the first time that his office has explained the reasoning behind those refusals.