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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rabbi Joel Kolko acquitted of all charges in child molestation case

Rabbi Joel Kolko

Eight minutes!

That's all the time a Brooklyn jury needed to acquit a notorious ultra-Orthodox rabbi today of charges that he leered at a boy who years earlier had accused him of being a pervert.

Joel Kolko was looking at two years behind bars if convicted of violating an order of protection by eyeballing the boy and his dad twice as they walked past his Flatbush home in 2010.

"We believe justice was served," said Jeffrey Schwartz, a defense lawyer for Kolko. "Really, there was no evidence to support anything."

The boy had accused Kolko of molesting him in 2006, when he was a first grader - but the rabbi dodged sex-offender status by pleading guilty two years later to misdemeanor child endangerment.

The boy, now 13, testified last week that Kolko stared at him with his arms folded "for a long time" during two uncomfortable encounters.

"There is absolutely no doubt that Kolko's intent was to intimidate the child," said Ben Hirsch, an advocate for victims of child abuse.

Hirsch, co-founder of the group Survivors for Justice, was critical of Hynes for cutting a deal with Kolko in 2008.

"It's tragic that the (District Attorney) Charles Hynes chose not to prosecute this case in 2008, when he would have achieved an almost-guaranteed guilty verdict," he said.

Kolko, 66, was arrested in 2006 for allegedly touching the private parts of the boy and a first-grade classmate at a Flatbush yeshiva where he worked as a teacher.

"This destroyed his whole life without really any basis in fact," Schwartz said. "It basically got him thrown out of his profession."



  1. To the young man and his family who courageously stood up for "tzedek," and who came face to face with evil: As a teacher who, regrettably, once worked at Torah Temimah with this molester, I apologize to you. On behalf of all the justice-seekers and G-d fearing people who are watching from the sidelines, I apologize. On behalf of all the caring, concerned rebbies and teachers whose hearts scream in pain for not knowing and for not protecting you, I apologize. Some of us watch in silence, some are not so silent, but we are all so very, very sorry for your pain, and so utterly horrified by the terrible injustice perpetrated by the molester, by his enablers, and by the so-called "justice system." Despite the ridiculous verdict and despite the distorted conclusions reached by people in positions of power, please know that those of us who understand the reality of what happened to you will continue to support you and fight for all children who have been victimized. You have bravely led the way in refusing to be intimidated, and for that we admire your resolve and are most grateful. All of us have learned a lot from you, so please don't look at this latest setback as a loss, but rather as just one part of a very difficult and challenging obstacle course. It is a road of rough hurdles that will ultimately serve to illuminate the corruption and hypocrisy within the broken yeshiva system and willfully ignorant communities. It will highlight what must be done to prevent what happened to you from happening to other innocent children. We are all learning, thanks to your courage and refusal to back down, to protect our families against abuse. Yesterday, despite the years of shameful cover-up and lack of transparency, you proved that you have what it takes to confront evil. May we all learn from you! You are a remarkable young man! Indeed, you are my new hero, and you are a hero to many who are cheering you from the sidelines. Your parents, surely, are to be admired and commended, too! Congratulations for doing the right thing. Let us all continue to fight the fight......