May 11, 2011
N.Y.‘s highest court to hear appeal on rabbi’s extradition
New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has agreed to hear a case requesting the release of documents relating to the sexual abuse case involving Brooklyn Rabbi Abraham Mondrowitz.
Attorney Michael Lesher had asked Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes to release the documents in the fall of 2007 under the Freedom of Information Law.
Lesher, who represents six alleged victims of Mondrowitz, all males now in their 30s, claims the DA’s office failed to pursue the Orthodox rabbi’s extradition from Israel—he fled there following his indictment in 1984—in order to put him on trial because of pressure from the Orthodox community.
Mondrowitz was indicted on five counts of sexual abuse reportedly involving 100 victims in his psychotherapy practice.
The New York state Supreme Court ruled that the Brooklyn DA had to provide the documents relating to the extradition request, but the Appellate Division in a unanimous decision reversed the ruling last June, saying that the DA’s office had shown that the documents, if released, would interfere with an ongoing investigation, the Forward reported.
Lesher told the Forward that documents he obtained from a request in 1998 show that in 1993, under pressure from the Orthodox community, the Brooklyn DA’s office asked the federal government to drop its efforts to extradite Mondrowitz.
Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in January 2010 against extraditing Mondrowitz, saying the charges are not extraditable offenses, Hynes spokesman Jerry Schmetter told the New York Law Journal. Mondrowitz faces immediate arrest if he returns to the United States.
The Court of Appeals, which decided to take up the case on April 28, will hear oral arguments on the appeal in the fall. Its decision to hear the case came as a surprise, according to the Law Journal, which noted that it is rare for the court to hear appeals on cases in which the appellate court has reached a unanimous verdict.