Associated Links

Atty. Michael Lesher's Freedom of Information Lawsuit Against Brooklyn District Attorney

Hella Winston's reporting

Selected news reports


Unchosen, by Hella Winston

Hella Winston is the author of “Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels, Beacon Press, 2005.

Tempest in the Temple, by Amy Neustein

"Tempest in the Temple: Jewish Communities and Child Sex Scandals," (Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture and Life), Amy Neustein ed., Brandeis University Press / University Press of New England, 2009.

"Wall of Science," which featured "The Tempest in the Temple," is a 2012 winner of a Gold Special Jury Award from the Worldfest Houston International Independent Film Festival.

Child Sex Abuse Coverups in Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Communities

Public secrecy about child sex abuse in some ultra-Orthodox communities, Hella Winston, The Jewish Week

Four Years of Revealing Child Sexual Abuse in Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Communities

Dogged Reporting By An Independent Journalist


After The New York Times published its two-part series about child sexual abuse in ultra-Orthodox communities, long time observers of reporting on these issues questioned why the Times had not credited the previous significant work done by journalists in the Jewish and secular press, including the groundbreaking reporting of Schuster Institute Senior Fellow Hella Winston, who published her freelance stories in The New York Jewish Week.

By not doing so, the Times' series begs the question of whether the Jewish press had been turning a blind eye to what Winston's reporting—and the Times' stories—describe as being a longstanding abuse of power by a Jewish sect. On the Village Voice's website, Nick Pinto details examples of the prior reporting that informed the Times' coverage, including four references to Winston's investigative stories. Other commentary on this issue: Failed Messiah and The New York Jewish Week. 

On May 19, The New York Times's Public Editor Arthur Brisbane asked the question: What did The Times have to lose by crediting others?

Investigative journalist and Schuster Institute Senior Fellow Hella Winston has been reporting on issues revolving around child sexual abuse in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities for four years. Her investigative articles have been published in The New York Jewish Week.

Awareness of these issues first arose when an anonymous blogger calling himself Unorthodox Jew began posting about it on his blog in 2005. A 2006 story in New York Magazine focused on an ultra-Orthodox teacher who is alleged to have sexually abused 40 boys over a four-year period. That story paved the way for Winston to begin her reporting. 

Since 2008 The Jewish Week has published numerous stories exploring many dimensions—cultural, legal and political—of the child sexual abuse problem in ultra-Orthodox communities. She has told not only the stories of abuse survivors but also of the attempts by rabbis and the communal leadership to keep these allegations from the secular authorities and out of the press.

Winston has also chronicled the rise of grass-roots activism about these issues and documented the response to it by public officials, most notably the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. Read about Hella Winston’s persistent efforts to bring this issue to public attention. Follow links to her ground-breaking reporting.

Hella Winston's Reporting

Despite many roadblocks, including community members’ fears of speaking out and a lack of transparency from both the communal leadership and law enforcement authorities, Hella Winston, perhaps more than any other journalist, has reported relentlessly and extensively about this issue.

She has focused primarily on institutions—both within and outside of these communities—that have played a role in protecting perpetrators and their enablers. These include religious tribunals, schools, community-based social service organizations, therapists, unsupervised volunteer neighborhood security patrols (funded, in part, by public monies) and local law enforcement.

Winston has described a world in which victims typically refuse to report child abuse allegations to local law enforcement for fear of being stigmatized and branded as “informers” by religious leaders who have repeatedly declared that all allegations of abuse must first be reported to rabbis. As such, these communities have developed what some have described as a parallel, or private, justice system. Despite the many ways such a system violates the law, Winston has reported that some law enforcement agencies have tolerated this practice for political reasons. Indeed, Winston notes that her investigations into this parallel justice system have been hampered over the years by weak public accountability, particularly on the part of the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.

In the Press

Winston’s Reporting on Sexual Abuse in Some Fervently Orthodox Jewish Communities

Editorial: Verdict Not In On Hynes—The Jewish Week, May 8, 2012

Brooklyn DA, In Shift, Opens Window On Abusers' Names—Hella Winston, April 24, 2011, The Jewish Week.

Abuse Case Dates Suggest Brooklyn DA Is Cooking Numbers For Kol Tzedek Hotline—Hella Winston, April 24, 2011, The Jewish Week.

High Court Ruling on Mondrowitz 'Troublesome'—Hella Winston, April 10, 2011, The Jewish Week.

Abuse Case Raising Statute Questions—The Jewish Week, February 28, 2012

Fight Over Mondrowitz Documents Coming To A Head—The Jewish Week, February 7, 2012

Brooklyn DA Released Abusers' Names In Recent Years—The Jewish Week, December 20, 2011

News Of Abuse Arrests Hailed, Questioned—The Jewish Week, December 13, 2011

In Lakewood Abuse Cases, A 'Parallel Justice System'—The Jewish Week, December 6, 2011

Tragedy in Borough Park Puts Shomrin Under Scrutiny: Community watchdogs are praised, criticized for actions and delay—The Jewish Week, July 22, 2011 

Ohel Campaign to Bolster Image Questioned—The Jewish Week, May 31, 2011

Court to Rule on Release of Mondrowitz Records—The Jewish Week (Staff report written by Hella Winston), May 10, 2011

Abuse Case Tests Ohel’s Adherence—The Jewish Week, February 25, 2011 

Kolko Allegedly Intimidating Boy Set to Testify in Abuse Case—The Jewish Week, November 19, 2010

One for Abuse Victims—The Jewish Week, April 13, 2010

Mondrowitz Extradition Ruling Raising Questions—The Jewish Week, January 29, 2010

Mondrowitz May Have Been Treating Boys Long After Indictment—The Jewish Week, January 21, 2010

BREAKING: Israeli Supreme Court: No Extradition For Mondrowitz; Brooklyn DA 'Disappointed'—The Jewish Week, January 15, 2010

Judge Lashes Out at Orthodox Community in Sex-Abuse Case; Says it Protects Abusers, Not Victims—The Jewish Week, October 2, 2009

Colmer Plea Deal Seen Raising Questions—The Jewish Week, June 19, 2009

Protest At Agudah—The Jewish Week, May 21, 2009

A Suspected Pedophile Eludes The System—The Jewish Week, May 6, 2009

Mondrowitz Accusers Seen Ready To Testify—The Jewish Week, December 30, 2008

Mondrowitz Extradition Case Thrown Into Limbo—The Jewish Week, December 19, 2008

Scrutiny of Hikind Intensifies—The Jewish Week, November 25, 2008

Anti-Abuse Rabbi Says He's In Danger—The Jewish Week, November 21, 2008

Hikind Subpoenaed on Sex-Abuse Information—The Jewish Week, November 14, 2008

Hikind Reports Second Reichman Allegation—The Jewish Week, September 17, 2008

Top Doc Scared Off Panel On Rabbinic Sex Molesters—The Jewish Week, September 12, 2008

A Charge of Double Betrayal in Williamsburg—The Jewish Week, September 5, 2008

No Sex Charge for Kolko; Boys’ Parents Foiled by DA—The Jewish Week, April 18, 2008

Yeshiva Fired, Then Paid, Rabbi Charged With Abuse—The Jewish Week, April 2, 2008

Selected Commentary

Fight Against Intimidation Must Rage On—Michael Lesher, The New York Post, December 11, 2011

The Uphill Battle to Expose Abusers—Ben Hirsch, November 22, 2011, The Jewish Week

Other Selected News Reports

Bloomberg Among Critics of Prosecutor in Brooklyn—Ray Rivera and Sharon Otterman, The New York Times, May 11, 2012

For Ultra-Orthodox Abuse Cases, Prosecutor Has Different Rules—Ray Rivera and Sharon Otterman, The New York times, May 10, 2012

Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse—Sharon Otterman and Ray Rivera, The New York Times, May 9, 2012

Brooklyn DA accused of failing to tackle Orthodox Jews' cover-up of sex abuse—Zoe Blackler, March 29, 2012, The Guardian

Silence and self-rule: Brooklyn's Orthodox child abuse cover-up—Zoe Blackler, March 29, 2012, The Guardian

Victim’s Father Determined To Break Cycle Of Abuse In Brooklyn’s Hasidic, Orthodox Communities—March 28, 2012, CBS New York

Orthodox Sex Abuse Scandal: 117 kid victims and 85 arrests in Jewish enclave—The New York Post, Dec. 11, 2011

Guiding Families Through the Fear—The New York Post, Dec. 11, 2011

The Uphill Battle to Expose Abusers—The Jewish Week, Nov. 22, 2011

Crackdown on Child Sex Abuse Unravels—Paul Berger, October 31, 2011, The Jewish Daily Forward 

Suffering In Silence—News 12, Aug. 31, 2010

WPIX investigates the reports of sexual abuse in the Ultra-Orthodox community—WPIX TV, March 11, 2010

Rabbinic Leaders Silent On Child Sexual Abuse—The Jewish Week, March 11, 2010

Lebovits Conviction—WPIX TV, Jan. 20, 2010

Orthodox Jews Rely More on Sex Abuse Prosecution—The New York Times, Oct. 13, 2009

Father Warns Other Parents—The Jewish Star, July 22, 2009

Abuse Scandal Plagues Hasidic Jews In Brooklyn—NPR, Feb. 2, 2009

Sex Abuse Allegations of Chassidim—WPIX TV, Dec. 2, 2008

Child Sex Abuse Case Still Haunts—Roxanna Sherwood, ABC News Nightline, October 11, 2006

Silence of the Lam—Kristen Lombardi, The Village Voice, July 18, 2006

On the Rabbi’s Knee—New York Magazine, May 14, 2006

Last page update: May 29, 2012