Hasidic Jew charged in beating of gay black man opts to have judge try his case


NEW YORK (JTA) — A Hasidic Jew charged in the brutal beating of a gay black man opted to have a judge try his case rather than a jury trial.

Mayer Herskovic, one of five Hasidic men indicted in the December 2013 beating that left the victim blind in one eye, will have his case heard by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, the New York Post reported Thursday. Herskovic opted for the bench trial, which is scheduled to begin Monday, just before the jury selection process began.

He is being tried for gang assault as a hate crime. If convicted, according to the Post, Herskovic could face a 25-year prison sentence.

Herskovic’s attorney did not return the Post’s repeated request for comment.

Of the four other alleged assailants, two had the charges dropped and two others — Pinchas Braver and Abraham Winkler — pleaded guilty to downgraded charges earlier this month. Braver and Winkler each must pay the victim, Taj Patterson, $1,400 in restitution and perform 150 hours of community service in a “culturally diverse” neighborhood.

Patterson in June sued the New York Police Department and New York City in federal court, claiming they improperly favored the Orthodox security patrol to which some of the five alleged assailants belonged and, at the patrol’s request, prematurely closed the investigation of the assault.

Braver and Winkler pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment in exchange for three year’s probation and the restitution.

Several police officers are facing charges of accepting bribes from Orthodox Jewish businessmen with ties to the security patrol.