NY Top Court Upholds Brooklyn DA’s Decision to Withhold Pedophile Docs

April 4, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Fugitive Rabbi Remains in Israel Unable to Be Extradited

By Ryan Thompson

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

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and The Associated Press

JAY STREET — New York’s top court has upheld the decision by Brooklyn prosecutors to withhold information about their investigation of an alleged serial pedophile they wanted extradited from Israel.

The Court of Appeals said yesterday that the state’s Freedom of Information Law grants an exemption from publicly disclosing information when it would interfere with police investigations or judicial proceedings. That can include “generic kinds of documents.”

The court notes the exemption ends after investigations and court cases “have run their course.”

Attorney Michael Lesher, who graduated from Brooklyn Law School in the 1980s, requested extradition communications between prosecutors and the U.S. State Department concerning Avrohom Mondrowitz.

The court says Lesher may want to refile his request since the Supreme Court of Israel has decided against extraditing Mondrowitz, an Orthodox rabbi and psychotherapist accused in 1984 of molesting young boys in Brooklyn.

That Israeli court had overturned a lower court judge who ruled two years earlier that Mondowitz could be extradited back to Brooklyn, based on a new treaty with the United States. However, the high court decided that the 2007 amendment to the treaty could not be applied retroactively.

The reversal was a devastating blow to victims in Brooklyn, who, after decades, finally thought justice would be served to the purpoted pedophile.

After over 20 years of asylum in Israel, Mondrowitz had appeared to be headed home in 2008 — where he would be prosecuted for sex abuse and sodomy of children.

Based on the 2007 amendment to the international treaty, a judge in Jerusalem had ordered the Hasidic man who claimed to be a rabbi extradited back to the United States, where had eluded police in 1984 when Mondrowitz and his family fled to Israel 23 years prior and lived outside the reach of U.S. authorities ever since.

Mondrowitz’s charged offenses were not extraditable until 2007, when the U.S. and Israel amended their extradition treaty to include sodomy as an extraditable offense. In 2008, Stefan Colmer, a 31-year-old Hasidic Jew from Midwood, was extradited from Israel back to Brooklyn, where he was immediately arraigned on sodomy charges, making him the first defendant in the country to be extradited under the new amendment to the treaty.

Colmer, perhaps aware of Mondrowitz’s seemingly successful escape to Israel, also took off abroad soon after he realized that he was under investigation for allegedly performing oral sex on two 13-year-old boys in 2006. He was charged with 35 counts of sex crimes.

Mondrowitz’s alleged crimes are far more serious, having had numerous children between the ages of 9 and 15 accuse him of sodomizing them in the 1980s. The now 64-year-old father of seven was once a popular youth counselor who ran an unlicensed psychology clinic at his Borough Park home, where some of the sex crimes are alleged to have occurred.

When police went to his house with an arrest warrant in 1984, Mondowitz was gone, and the police posted “Wanted” posters around the neighborhood, which depicted the bearded man with spectacles.

After learning that Mondrowitz had fled to Israel, the U.S. sought his extradition but was ultimately denied, because the 1962 Israeli-American treaty did not include sodomy as an extraditable offense.

With the treaty amended in 2007 to include sodomy and any criminal offense that carries a prison sentence of more than one year, the U.S. sought the extradition of Mondrowitz again. Upon doing so, Mondrowitz was arrested in Jerusalem.

Dressed in a long black overcoat and yarmulke, Mondrowitz stood in shackles in a Jerusalem courtroom in 2008. He argued that the U.S. statute of limitations had run out on his alleged sex crimes and that he therefore should not be returned home.

However, the statute tolls as a result of his escaping prosecution, and therefore, the time abroad would not be considered.

But the Israel Supreme Court’s decision to not apply the 2007 treaty amendment retroactively makes the statute of limitations argument moot anyaway.

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