I am short on time, Samuel Kellner’s trial is scheduled to start tomorrow morning, and Hella Winston has reported some important new developments in this case further confirming Kellner’s innocence. So, I will cut to the chase.
For two years Sam Kellner has waited for his day in court. Sam did more than anyone else in the Hasidic community to get victims of sex abuse to press charges and testify against their molesters. But no good deed goes unpunished. He upset the cozy equilibrium between ultra orthodox Jewish voters and the Kings County District Attorney (KCDA) who went easy on their molesters.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was the conviction of Baruch (Mordechai) Lebovits and his prison sentence of 10-32 years. (It was overturned on a technicality and he is conveniently scheduled to be retried two days after the DA’s September 10th primary). At the time it was the longest sentence ever meted out to an orthodox offender. Kellner found the victim who testified against Lebovits as well as another victim who was intimidated into not testifying a while after he gave grand jury testimony of severe sexual abuse by Lebovits
Lebowitz’s camp had an ace card, their attorney Arthur Aidala, a close buddy of DA Charles J Hynes. Aidala offered the Rackets Division under Michael Vecchione the absurd claim that Kellner was an extortionist who fabricated allegations against Lebovits and demanded money not to have them press charges. When his demands were not met, Kellner was alleged to have induced a witness to falsely testify against Lebovits. This was the very same victim whose abuse was confirmed as credible by the Sex Crimes unit. But then he withdrew the charges after he was intimidated. Winston’s article includes new evidence that this witness’s subsequent testimony against Kellner was induced through bribery and manipulation by Zalmen Ashkenazi working on behalf of Lebovits.
The allegations were laughable and never should have gotten past an initial screening. But the DA went forward with the case. They assumed Kellner would roll over and plead guilty to some Mickey Mouse misdemeanor with a sentence of community service. But he wouldn’t. It is unusual for a defendant to demand a trial and for the DA to delay it. But that is what keeps on happening.
The trial is scheduled to start tomorrow morning. The defense is ready to go to trial. The DA is not and never will be. In the parlance of the KCDA, the case has been “shitcanned,” slated to never be tried.
If you can make it to the courthouse, go, because it will be very interesting. The DA will claim it needs more time to be ready for trial instead of doing the decent thing and admitting they were wrong all along and dropping the charges. The defense will have a field day lacerating the DA’s request. According to Winston, the defense maintains, “an outside investigation is now required to ensure that those ultimately responsible are held to account for this travesty of justice.”
Court is usually boring. Expect fireworks if you can make it tomorrow. Trial is scheduled to start tomorrow, 9:30 a.m., Monday, July 8th, in Kings County NYS Supreme Court Criminal Term, 320 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY11201 in front of Judge A. M. Donnelly.
I did not have time to add many links. If you want more information search for Kellner on my site, or search for articles by Hella Winston on the website of the Jewish Week.
Posted by Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg at 7/08/2013
Independence Day is over, but the real fireworks will start tomorrow
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg