(New York Jewish Week) — The founder and longtime head of a private Jewish safety patrol group in Brooklyn has pleaded guilty to a crime related to sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl.
Jacob Daskal will be sentenced to between 14 and 17 years in prison and will register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to transporting a minor with the intent of engaging in criminal sexual activity, according to an announcement Friday from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The guilty plea comes more than five years after Daskal, then the head of the Boro Park Shomrim security group, was first arrested and charged with sex crimes related to the alleged abuse of a girl who became his charge after she reached out for help because of trouble in her family. According to prosecutors, Daskal groomed the girl for sex and had sex with her multiple times, in Brooklyn, upstate New York and Chicago, all the while using his status as a community leader to pressure her to stay quiet.
“The defendant has admitted he abused his power, trust and position in the community by committing deplorable acts against a child in his care,” Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement Friday. “We want victims everywhere to hear this guilty plea as our Office’s continued declaration that no one is above the law and we will bring those who violate our children to justice.”
The plea allows Daskal to avoid a trial on additional charges that had been set to start this month. Elements of the prosecution’s case, including graphic text messages between Daskal and his victim, were revealed in court filings rebuffing Daskal’s efforts to delay a trial.
According to the New York Daily News, Daskal — who had close ties with local police and Brooklyn’s Orthodox politicians until his arrest — was tearful as he entered his plea in court in Brooklyn on Friday.
“I transported the 15-year-old victim from New York, Brooklyn to New Jersey,” he said in court. “I was 58 years old at that time.”