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Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Story behind the Arrest of Rabbi David Greenfeld for Molesting

reported the arrest on December 23 of Rabbi David Y Greenfeld of 47th St. in Boro Park. He was booked in Kings County Criminal Court on charges of sexual abuse, forcible touching and harassment (charge sheet #2009KN101458). David Y Greenfeld (also known by his Jewish names as Dovid Leib or Dovid Yidie) is the son of Rabbi Baruch Chuna Greenfeld, Dayan (religious judge) and Gabay (personal secretary) of the 45th Street Bobov Rabbi, Mordechai Dovid Unger.

According to the Daily News, the victim is a 15-year-old Chassidic boy and “the pair met at their place of worship.” According to Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg the episode actually took place in May in the Tosher mikvah (ritual bath) in Boro Park. What follows is an account about the alleged assault and its aftermath as reported to me by Rabbi Rosenberg, a hasid from Williamsburg who is active in the fight against child molesting in the orthodox Jewish world.

The boy escaped his assailant in the mikvah, dressed hastily and decided to ensure his escape by taking the man’s clothing. Later on the wallet inside the pants gave them the name of the man in the mikvah. The boy shared his plight with his parents who were sympathetic but reluctant to report the episode because a trial would publicize the boy’s assault and hurt their standing in the community. Nevertheless they consulted with Rabbi Rosenberg privately shortly after the mikvah episode.

Rabbi Rosenberg and the victim visited the Mosholu Yeshiva in Boro Park where Greenfeld worked as a teacher. The victim identified Rabbi Greenfeld. A discussion ensued with the administration and Greenfeld was confronted. As reported in a previous post, Greenfeld then signed a letter agreeing not to work with children .

By November the boy’s family who are Belzer Chassidim were consulting with key figures in Belz. They were advised to initiate a formal complaint with the police.

The boy and Rabbi Rosenberg’s went to the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit (SVU) for sex crimes in the middle of December. They brought along the seized clothing and the signed letter. A detective followed-up diligently and Greenfeld was arrested in less than 2 weeks. Rabbi Rosenberg was impressed with their sensitivity and professionalism.

Many sex abuse victim advocates report less satisfactory follow-up on complaints when they go to the local police precinct houses in the ultra orthodox neighborhoods or contact Kol Tzedek, a unit supposedly established to assist orthodox complainants. They claim that it works together with community influentials (askanim) and certain rabbis to discourage victim families from pressing charges.

In recent years several prominent rabbinic authorities have publicly stated that molestation is a life threatening act, and molesters are unlikely to stop with one act. Under the Jewish law (halachach) governing a rodef (a homicidal pursuer) one has an obligation to report the offender to the authorities. Nevertheless there are rabbis who discourage reporting. Rabbi Rosenberg alleges that some of these rabbis offer that advice in deference to wealthy individuals connected to the molesters who are major contributors.

David Greenfeld was released on bail of $500 the next evening and is now awaiting trial.

IF YOUR OR ANYONE YOU KNOW WAS A VICTIM OF DAVID GREENFELD CONTACT the NYPD Brooklyn Sex Crimes Unit (718-330-5600). Even if the episode happened long ago, or in another state or country, the information can assist the prosecution in this case. Reporting can also qualify victims for professional help in lessening the emotional harm of sex abuse. Please come forward, help yourself and help make the community safer for all children.

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