A Miracle for Chanukah? – Childhood Victims of Sexual Abuse, Brad Holyman – Seeking to Extend the Reporting Deadline

The New York Interfaith Community comes together in solidarity following a week of violent hate crimes.

The New York Interfaith Community comes together in solidarity following a week of violent hate crimes. | Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Will NY finally let childhood victims seek justice after age 23?

In the political war over the Child Victims Act, state Sen. Brad Hoylman is calling on his opponents to surrender. “Here’s a challenge I would like to make to those organizations like the Boy Scouts and the New York (Archdiocese): Lay down your swords,” the Manhattan Democrat told City & State. “Don’t lobby against this bill.”

Hoylman is the lead sponsor of the bill that would lift the statute of limitations on young sexual assault victims seeking to sue their alleged predators beyond the current age limit of 23. And since a version of the bill was introduced more than a decade ago, the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Archdiocese have been two of its main opponents. Opponents fear the law would financially devastate the institutions, both of which have histories of adult leaders assaulting youths in their care.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is sympathetic to those concerns, telling reporters in November that “nobody wants to see a diocese or the Catholic Church bankrupt, so how (the bill) is done is very important.” Nonetheless, Cuomo has been vocally supportive of the bill in recent years, and listed it among his top priorities for the 2019 legislative session – even though his backing hasn’t been enough to make it law. Although the Assembly approved the bill in 2018 with vast bipartisan support, the state Senate’s Republican majority never brought it up for a vote.

Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, the lead sponsor of the bill in the Assembly, claims she was genuinely surprised by the Senate Republicans’ hesitation. The Democratic lawmaker said she thought “the #MeToo movement and the outrage of constituents about the way women have been treated,” combined with the 90 percent public approval for the bill according to a 2018 Quinnipiac University poll, “would force Republicans to strategically position this as a must-do. And they didn’t.”

That’s in part because of powerful opposition from the insurance industry, which would stand to lose money from a rash of payouts, and from Agudath Israel, a Jewish interest group, as well the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts.

Like Hoylman, Rosenthal called on opponents to reconsider, noting that 30 percent of children sexually abused are victims of family members. “You want to cover your people, that’s one thing,” she said of the bill’s opponents. “But their efforts have ramifications for everyone who’s been the victim of abuse. That’s a double whammy. It’s self-interest to the highest degree.”

With Democrats taking the state Senate majority, the terms of the battle have shifted. Incoming state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is a co-sponsor of the Child Victims Act, meaning that a bill is almost guaranteed to be sent to Cuomo’s desk. Now advocates and opponents will be debating the bill’s language, like whether to include a one-year “lookback window” so that past victims could bring lawsuits even if they’re older than 23. Cuomo voicing concern about the bill’s financial impact on the church was rebuked by victims of sexual abuse and the Daily News editorial board. Hoylman also questioned the governor. “The facts are that the one-year lookback window does not result in bankruptcies for our treasured and highly valued institutions,” he said. “All you have to do is look at other states that have instituted lookback windows like California and see the results.”

Because of the heavy subject matter and the organized opposition, the bill isn’t likely to pass immediately after session opens. Hoylman said he would like to see it “sooner rather than later,” and state Senate Democratic Conference Chair Michael Gianaris confirmed the bill has widespread support in the chamber. But the usual timeline of laws being crammed into the state budget and then again in the “Big Ugly” at the end of session may be upended with Democrats having full control of state government.

Whenever the bill starts to move, Rosenthal said she wants to make sure sexual abuse survivors are included in conversations. “It has to be palatable to them,” she said. “They’re the ones we’re fighting for. The perpetrators should not be writing this bill.”


Former Satmar Hasidic Jew, Ari Hershkowitz and the Horrors he Endured, a View into Radical Judaism

To our LostMessiah Readers:

We have republished the entire Hershkowitz interview from the Times of Israel without permission. We therefore ask that you click on the link to view the article, the comments and any other articles directly. We have highlighted some of the more disturbing recounts of his life in red.

We comment that Ari’s story is not uncommon, more like the norm, for anyone willing to come to grips with his or her indoctrination and to talk about it. Ari Hershkowitz deserves our admiration for his journey and the courage that he has had both in escaping the societal norms imposed upon him, the sexual abuse, the psychiatric meds and then coming forward to speak.

Children like Ari, Satmar who decide to leave the community, are generally mourned by their families as if they had died. As with many fundamentalist religious organizations, once you are an outsider, you are not welcomed back, leaving many of the kids and young adults like Ari, with a feeling of utter and unimaginable loneliness and isolation. What he has endured, most would not or will not survive.

Organizations that help these kids, like YAFFED and OTD often themselves enduring their own brand of retribution from the Satmar. The Satmar as an organization is relentless. 

We note that the family that has sued LostMessiah identifies with the Satmar, litigation being one of many examples of tactical manipulation to silence detractors. 

Former Satmar Hasidic Jew now tours world to expose sect’s dark underbelly

Ari Hershkowitz speaks at the DOC NYC documentary film festival in 2017. (Courtesy)


SYDNEY, Australia — On his Instagram page, there is a photo of Ari Hershkowitz wearing a virtual reality headset. It pretty much sums up his story: an escape from one world to another.

Hershkowitz met with The Times of Israel outside the Sydney Jewish Museum, a few days after he presented at Yom Limmud in Sydney. It is a wintry day Down Under and he is wearing black jeans and a red T-shirt. He doesn’t like to wear long sleeved shirts, he later says — it reminds him of his previous life. His American drawl makes it hard to imagine that for most of his life he could not speak English.

Hershkowitz cuts a hipster figure as he “vapes” on his electric cigarette. He winds his way to the museum’s café upstairs while snapping photographs of the exhibits on his smartphone. He plans to visit the museum again, he says.

Sitting down, he fidgets, looks sideways and checks his phone. He has a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter account and appears to be on call. Every now and again he needs to be reminded where he left off in the conversation. He clearly finds it hard to focus — but focus is necessary to tell this 21-year-old’s story.

His name is now Ari. During another phase it was Alex, the name he took on when he escaped to Florida for six months.

“I wanted to run away from Judaism as far as I possibly could. I then took on the identity of Alex, who was never a Hasidic Jew,” Hershkowitz says.

In his childhood, he went by the name Arye.

“I don’t remember much of my early life,” Hershkowitz says. “From the age of 14 to 20 I was on the wrong medication. I don’t know whether that ruined my memories from before, combined with the fact that I wanted to forget everything, especially aged 8 to 12.”

He begins with the basics.

Hershkowitz’s formative years are set in the heart of the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Satmar community in Williamsburg, New York. He is the second of nine children. The Satmar dynasty is one of the largest in the world. It is characterized by strict religious observance, rejection of modern culture, and fierce anti-Zionism. In a podcast interview, he describes this brand of Judaism as “Judaism on steroids.”

Yiddish was the only language he spoke. At school they studied Jewish texts. They did also learn English, he adds, but that was only from the ages of 8 to 12, and it was relegated to the last lesson of the day, taught by teachers who could barely speak the language themselves.

“We studied gemara, mishnah and chumash,” Hershkowitz says, referring to various texts of the ancient oral law and Bible.

“Initially, I was a very good student. I had a folder for ‘best in class,’” he says with a hint of irony.

It is this subpar education which, he claims, has caused the community to be crippled by poverty, beset with ignorance and reliant on government funding for virtually all aspects of life.

But it’s what he calls its skewed values and the importance accorded to trivial things which he remembers most vividly.

“What our eyeglasses were made of was very important. Metal is bad; plastic is good. What counts is the color of your socks, which shoe you tie first in the morning. Wearing a watch is discouraged before bar mitzvah; after that it is completely banned. Being a good person was never a priority,” he says.

The period he finds hard to recollect is not incidental. “I never talked about it. I choked it for so long,” he says.

At the age of 8, Hershkowitz says he was sexually assaulted in a synagogue by an older man. After a pause and some hesitation, he recounts the incident bit by bit.

“The man made up some story about my belt. He shouted, ‘You hit my son, you hit my son with your belt,’ and then he grabs me and takes me downstairs to the basement, takes away my belt and then… whatever… I had no idea about sex or anything. The abuse was violent. I still have the scars,” he says.

The “punishment,” he says, continued for a number of weeks, in the basement of the synagogue.

“One day, when we walked up the stairs from the basement my dad saw me. I guess by the look on my face he realized what had happened and he started yelling at this guy in front of everyone,” Hershkowitz says.

The abuser never returned to the synagogue.

“I told my father from my little understanding what had happened, but I am sure as a grown, smart adult he got the picture. He still told me that I must be thinking that… looking back, I am sure he knew. He never said that he was sorry it happened to me. He couldn’t, because that would mean he’d have to report it to the police — something he would never do. Satmar never calls the police. No matter what happens. Never. Which is wrong because in some cases they should,” Hershkowitz says.

Hershkowitz’s behavior became erratic, or, as he puts it: “I was a very wild kid and always getting into trouble.”

Two years later, during a summer camp in Napanoch, a small hamlet in Ulster County, New York, he says he was assaulted again. This time three people were involved.

“They held me down to a bed, I managed to get free. I grabbed the fire extinguisher and tried to fight back with that. They grabbed me and pulled me back into the bunk. I am not sure how long it lasted. It seemed like five hours before my private tutor came to look for me. Then they left. I was tied up and my tutor saw me,” says Hershkowitz.

He repeats, “He definitely saw me tied up.”

The perpetrators, says Hershkowitz, continued working at the camp. He is skeptical about pressing charges or filing a formal complaint with police.

“All the people who witnessed it… none of them would ever testify. It’s my word against theirs. In fact, some of them specifically told me that if they had to testify they would say that it never actually happened. So, realistically, there is nothing I can now do about it,” he says.

Like many others who have survived sexual abuse, the experience triggered a deep crisis.

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Jeffrey Epstein – From the FBI Vault

Epstein Vault

Jeffrey Epstein – Click the Links Below

Perversion of Justice, Jeffrey Epstein and the 53 Page Indictment for Sexual Offenses that Never Was

To our Readers: We are publishing the better part of an article from the Miami Herald, with links back to that article. We did not published the interactives or the videos. We suggest you go to the original article and read it in its entirety.
Jeffrey Epstein’s story is utterly horrifying. The number of children involved is tragic; and the magnitude of his sexual operations both maddening and sobering. We thank the author for her precision and detail. 

How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime


Perversion of Justice logoA decade before #MeToo, a multimillionaire sex offender from Florida got the ultimate break.

On a muggy October morning in 2007, Miami’s top federal prosecutor, Alexander Acosta, had a breakfast appointment with a former colleague, Washington, D.C., attorney Jay Lefkowitz.

It was an unusual meeting for the then-38-year-old prosecutor, a rising Republican star who had served in several White House posts before being named U.S. attorney in Miami by President George W. Bush.

Instead of meeting at the prosecutor’s Miami headquarters, the two men — both with professional roots in the prestigious Washington law firm of Kirkland & Ellis — convened at the Marriott in West Palm Beach, about 70 miles away. For Lefkowitz, 44, a U.S. special envoy to North Korea and corporate lawyer, the meeting was critical.

His client, Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, 54, was accused of assembling a large, cult-like network of underage girls — with the help of young female recruiters — to coerce into having sex acts behind the walls of his opulent waterfront mansion as often as three times a day, the Town of Palm Beach police found.

Home 02 Epstein EKM.jpg

At this home on El Brillo Way in Palm Beach, young girls, recruited by other young girls, would arrive by car or taxi, be greeted in the kitchen by a member of Jeffrey Epstein’s staff and ascend a staircase. They were met by Epstein, clad in a towel.
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com

Interactive image link

Interactive: Sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein was surrounded by powerful people. Here’s a sampling

Facing a 53-page federal indictment, Epstein could have ended up in federal prison for the rest of his life.

But on the morning of the breakfast meeting, a deal was struck — an extraordinary plea agreement that would conceal the full extent of Epstein’s crimes and the number of people involved.

Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal — called a non-prosecution agreement — essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes, according to a Miami Herald examination of thousands of emails, court documents and FBI records.

The pact required Epstein to plead guilty to two prostitution charges in state court. Epstein and four of his accomplices named in the agreement received immunity from all federal criminal charges. But even more unusual, the deal included wording that granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators’’ who were also involved in Epstein’s crimes. These accomplices or participants were not identified in the agreement, leaving it open to interpretation whether it possibly referred to other influential people who were having sex with underage girls at Epstein’s various homes or on his plane.

As part of the arrangement, Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from the victims. As a result, the non-prosecution agreement was sealed until after it was approved by the judge, thereby averting any chance that the girls — or anyone else — might show up in court and try to derail it.

This is the story of how Epstein, bolstered by unlimited funds and represented by a powerhouse legal team, was able to manipulate the criminal justice system, and how his accusers, still traumatized by their pasts, believe they were betrayed by the very prosecutors who pledged to protect them.

“I don’t think anyone has been told the truth about what Jeffrey Epstein did,’’ said one of Epstein’s victims, Michelle Licata, now 30. “He ruined my life and a lot of girls’ lives. People need to know what he did and why he wasn’t prosecuted so it never happens again.”

Now President Trump’s secretary of labor, Acosta, 49, oversees a massive federal agency that provides oversight of the country’s labor laws, including human trafficking. He also has been on a list of possible replacements for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned under pressure earlier this month.

Acosta did not respond to numerous requests for an interview or answer queries through email.

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Alexander Acosta, now President Donald Trump’s secretary of labor, was the U.S. attorney for Southern Florida when he negotiated an end to the federal investigation of Jeffrey Epstein.
Florida International University

But court records reveal details of the negotiations and the role that Acosta would play in arranging the deal, which scuttled the federal probe into a possible international sex trafficking operation. Among other things, Acosta allowed Epstein’s lawyers unusual freedoms in dictating the terms of the non-prosecution agreement.

“The damage that happened in this case is unconscionable,” said Bradley Edwards, a former state prosecutor who represents some of Epstein’s victims. “How in the world, do you, the U.S. attorney, engage in a negotiation with a criminal defendant, basically allowing that criminal defendant to write up the agreement?”

As a result, neither the victims — nor even the judge — would know how many girls Epstein allegedly sexually abused between 2001 and 2005, when his underage sex activities were first uncovered by police. Police referred the case to the FBI a year later, when they began to suspect that their investigation was being undermined by the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office.


“This was not a ‘he said, she said’ situation. This was 50-something ‘shes’ and one ‘he’ — and the ‘shes’ all basically told the same story,’’ said retired Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter, who supervised the police probe.

More than a decade later, at a time when Olympic gymnasts and Hollywood actresses have become a catalyst for a cultural reckoning about sexual abuse, Epstein’s victims have all but been forgotten.

The women — now in their late 20s and early 30s — are still fighting for an elusive justice that even the passage of time has not made right.

Like other victims of sexual abuse, they believe they’ve been silenced by a criminal justice system that stubbornly fails to hold Epstein and other wealthy and powerful men accountable.

“Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless. He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right,’’ said Courtney Wild, who was 14 when she met Epstein.

Courtney Wild NEW 02 EKM.jpg

Courtney Wild, 31, was a victim of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein beginning at the age of 14. Epstein paid Wild, and many other underage girls, to give him massages, often having them undress and perform sexual acts. Epstein also used the girls as recruiters, paying them to bring him other underage girls.
Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com

Over the past year, the Miami Herald examined a decade’s worth of court documents, lawsuits, witness depositions and newly released FBI documents. Key people involved in the investigation — most of whom have never spoken before — were also interviewed. The Herald also obtained new records, including the full unredacted copy of the Palm Beach police investigation and witness statements that had been kept under seal.

The Herald learned that, as part of the plea deal, Epstein provided what the government called “valuable consideration” for unspecified information he supplied to federal investigators. While the documents obtained by the Herald don’t detail what the information was, Epstein’s sex crime case happened just as the country’s subprime mortgage market collapsed, ushering in the 2008 global financial crisis.

Records show that Epstein was a key federal witness in the criminal prosecution of two prominent executives with Bear Stearns, the global investment brokerage that failed in 2008, who were accused of corporate securities fraud. Epstein was one of the largest investors in the hedge fund managed by the executives, who were later acquitted. It is not known what role, if any, the case played in Epstein’s plea negotiations.

The Herald also identified about 80 women who say they were molested or otherwise sexually abused by Epstein from 2001 to 2006. About 60 of them were located — now scattered around the country and abroad. Eight of them agreed to be interviewed, on or off the record. Four of them were willing to speak on video.

The women are now mothers, wives, nurses, bartenders, Realtors, hairdressers and teachers. One is a Hollywood actress. Several have grappled with trauma, depression and addiction. Some have served time in prison.

A few did not survive. One young woman was found dead last year in a rundown motel in West Palm Beach. She overdosed on heroin and left behind a young son.

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Rabbinical Court Gives Custody to Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting His Daughter – Israel


Imploring the Ultra-Orthodox Community to Protect its Children

We believe that the translation is as close to the content of the original article as possible.

The content reflects a concern amongst Jews, that Israel may be a haven for pedophiles, particularly where the Rabbinical Court gets involved.

We believe that wherever there are ultra-Orthodox zealots, there is a safety net for pedophilia. Israel simply needs to stop accepting Jewish sex offenders into its borders, or alternatively send them back to their countries of origin if Israel is uncomfortable jailing the monsters within its borders.

Sexual assault within the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel and abroad is one of the greatest tragedies of our time, of epidemic proportions. It is our position that the Rabbis who allow this continue, who are responsible for rulings such as the one below, are providing de-facto criminal assistance to the very act of sexual assault. The Rabbis who know this is happening and do nothing, in Israel and worldwide, might as well be holding the children down while the pedophiles abuse them.

The crimes and the disastrous impact on the children that follows is solely on the shoulders of those who sit by and do nothing, or worse still, demand silence.

We implore the ultra-Orthodox communities worldwide to take responsibility for what is happening to generations of children and put a stop to it. This is not about “Moser” (reporting), it is a matter of “Pikuah Nefesh” (the health of the soul).


Note to Reader:

The following is an online translation of an article in YNET. The following is the link:


Rabbinical Court: A person suspected of indecent assault on his daughter will receive custody of her

Despite the police’s recommendation to indict him for sexual offenses, and contrary to the opinion of the welfare authorities, the rabbinical court ruled that a man suspected of indecent assault on his daughter would receive custody of his children. Attorney Batya Kahana Dror: “The court puts itself above the criminal law, the police and the prosecution.” Rabbinical Court: “We decide in accordance with the children’s welfare”


The Jerusalem Rabbinical Court ruled that a man suspected of an indecent act against his daughter would receive custody of his children.  Ynet learned that the decision was made despite the police’s recommendation to file an indictment against the man for sexual offenses within the family, in a case that is still awaiting the decision of the State Prosecutor’s Office, and contrary to the opinion of the welfare authorities.

B. was arrested last year on suspicion of sexually assaulting his underage daughter and even photographed the act. He did not deny the actions but claimed in his defense that his intention was good – to document the daughter reconstructing sexual offenses allegedly committed by other relatives, as the basis for a complaint on his part.

The father did report the recovery to the welfare authorities, and even transferred the video to them before his arrest, but his explanations did not satisfy the police, which attributed severe sexual offenses to his daughter. She recently completed the investigation, and the findings were transferred to the State Prosecutor’s Office for a decision on whether to file an indictment in the case. According to the criminal record, the offenses in which he is suspected are protected by a minor and the rape of a minor in the family.


At the same time, the parents of the minor are conducting a divorce struggle, focusing on the issue of custody of their children, including the injured daughter. Before the exposure of the video, B. received responsibility for it because of his mother’s precarious medical condition, but after his arrest the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court ruled that they would be transferred to her when the father could fulfill the vision arrangements and meet them only under the supervision of the welfare services.


Criminal proceedings against the father

In recent months, the dayanim changed their decision and ordered the transfer of custody to B. The members of the panel, headed by the head of the rabbinical court, Rabbi Mordechai Ralbag, did so in complete disregard of the advanced criminal procedure being conducted in the father’s case – and contrary to the opinion of the welfare agencies that deal with the family

At first the court appointed a psychologist to supervise B’s meetings with the children. Later his powers were expanded so that he could also recommend the vision arrangements. The mother, through her attorney Adv. Edna Ashkenazi, objected to the appointment and refused to recognize him as an objective party and to cooperate with him.


The psychologist changed his views during the follow-up: his first recommendation was for joint custody, and he later went on to recommend that the children be transferred to the father’s custody, on the basis of an external professional opinion that presented him with a low level of risk. The dayanim eventually adopted the later position, and last month they decided that the guards would be responsible for the guards.


Despite the successive attempt by the welfare authorities to change the court’s decision, it remains the same – while the criminal procedure is still underway and the case awaits the prosecution’s decision to file an indictment against the father. The dayanim explained that they do not accept the position of the caregivers because they claim that there were fundamental defects in their work.


The dayyan precedes the position of head of the Avot Beit Din

The judge, Ralbag, who in the past few days was appointed to be the head of the rabbinic courts in Jerusalem (the president of the religious court), sought to limit the significance of the decision, and remarked that the transfer of custody to the father should not be considered a real change in the court’s position, Of B, then the children were in his possession.


As a result, the mother’s attorney, Batya Kahana-Dror, appealed to the legal advisor of the Ministry of Social Affairs, requesting that the legal advisor report to the children on behalf of the children and work to remove them from B. “There is no dispute that as long as the father is under criminal investigation for sexual abuse of his children, he can not be a custodial parent,” she argued. “Amazingly, this basic norm is not taken for granted by the court.”


"As long as the father is under criminal investigation for sexual abuse of his children, he can not be a custodial parent."  Attorney Batya Kahana Dror (Photo: Gil Yohanan) (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

“As long as the father is under criminal investigation for sexual abuse of his children, he can not be a custodial parent.” Attorney Batya Kahana Dror (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


“The rabbinical court itself is above the criminal law, the police and the prosecution – and this time it can not be argued that ‘this is the halachah,'” she added. “On the day we note the struggle against violence against women, we must pay attention to the negative message from a judicial authority that belittles police and prosecution investigations, and thus covers and even encourages the social malaise of violence and sexual abuse in the family.”


Court: “There were flaws in welfare work”

The Rabbinical Court’s administration said in response: “This is a complex case in which discussions have been held and detailed decisions have been made, and it is impossible to go into detail at this stage. On the opinion of six dayanim in the regional court. ”


“In practice, the Social Affairs Ministry admitted that there were flaws in its work, among other things, including the fact that experts’ opinions were not before the members of the committee before its recommendations were issued, and therefore the decision committee of the welfare authorities will convene soon to reconsider its recommendations. In accordance with the totality of the evidence brought before it. ”


The rabbinical court also noted that the woman had filed an application for permission to appeal, but this was rejected by the Rabbinical Court, which explained: “There were fundamental flaws in the manner in which the welfare office dealt with problems that inevitably radiate its recommendatio