June 3, 2012
As his excuse for refusing to identify certain Orthodox Jews charged with sexually abusing children, beleaguered Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes has long cited the fear of witness intimidation.
According to Hynes, once an individual has been charged publicly, victims become promptly known — and historically have been "intimidated and threatened" with tactics reminiscent of the Mafia, he said last week.
"I haven't seen this kind of intimidation in organized-crime cases or police-corruption cases," Hynes complained.
What would the DA do if these were Mafia-type cases?
Is he suggesting that he'd let witness-intimidation get in the way of pursuing — and, post-arrest, publicly naming — thugs involved with organized crime ?
Surely, Hynes wouldn't shy away from bringing charges of witness intimidation and tampering, if and when appropriate, just because the Mafia was involved.
No one disputes the fact that sex-crime cases are difficult. Just ask Hynes' Manhattan counterpart, Cy Vance, who's drawn a few tough ones over the last couple of years — with mixed results.
But they ultimately are still crimes that need to be fully adjudicated in the sunlight.
Hynes' "no one gives a damn about victims" whining isn't helpful.
It encourages victimization, for one thing.
As a prosecutor, he's not supposed to be focusing on only the victim (or on one community's concerns). Crimes are offenses against society — the broad public.
That's why criminal charges are brought in the name of "The People of the State of New York."
Moreover, refusing to identify individuals who have been arrested has serious civil-liberties implications.
Perverts, odious though they may be, have rights; balancing them with the interests of victims and society in general is difficult, but it's part of any conscientious DA's duties.
It's called equal justice under the law.