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NYC to fight abuse among Orthodox Jews

Associated Press / April 2, 2009
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NEW YORK - A team of prosecutors, counselors, and religious leaders announced a program yesterday to combat sexual abuse among members of the insular world of Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The centerpiece of the outreach program, announced yesterday by District Attorney Charles Hynes and leaders from community-based organizations that serve Jewish communities, is a hot line that abuse victims can call and speak to a "culturally sensitive" social worker.

The establishment of the team, which will focus on child sex abuse, comes partly in response to a discussion on State Assemblyman Dov Hikind's radio show last summer.

The show prompted dozens of listeners to come forward with stories of children being molested. Hikind has said that as many as four people a day over a three-month period last year approached him with accounts of secrets often kept for decades.

The program, called Kol Tzedek, which means voice of justice in Hebrew, will allow callers to remain anonymous until they feel they're ready to identify themselves and meet with a social worker and prosecutors who specialize in sex crimes.

The DA's office is prosecuting 16 suspected felony cases of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn and three misdemeanor cases.