Rejecting a Forward request under the state’s Freedom of Information Law, the Brooklyn district attorney made the startling claim that Orthodox Jews deserve a blanket exemption from the usual public disclosure rules. Prosecutors claimed that Orthodox Jews are “unique” in that releasing the names of suspects would allow others in the community to identify their victims.
Although Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has long resisted requests to identify Orthodox sex suspects, the letter is believed to represent the first time his office spelled out why it specifically singled them out for preferential treatment.
Dennehy cited the state’s civil rights laws in denying the Forward’s request for the names of 85 Orthodox Jews arrested on sex charges during the past three years. The Forward made its request in December 2011 after prosecutors announced that scores of Orthodox Jews had been charged under a special program designed to encourage the community to come forward with information.
He did not explain whether prosecutors had concluded that there was anything specific about each of the 85 suspects that might make it possible for others to determine the identity of their victim from the identity of the suspect.
He also did not explain whether such a blanket exemption might be granted to other similarly “tight-knit” communities in the borough. And there were no details about what criteria prosecutors would use to determine whether a particular group should be granted such preferential status.
Daniel Mullkoff, a legal fellow with the New York Civil Liberties Union, said there was no good reason to withhold the names of abuse suspects from the public.