by Matthew Kalman In Jerusalem, Joe Gould and Dave Goldiner in New York (NY Daily News)
November 17, 2007
An Ex-Brooklyn rabbi accused of raping several boys more than 20 years ago has been arrested in Israel and could finally face justice.
Avrohom Mondrowitz, 60, a married father of seven, could be headed back to Brooklyn because a new agreement with the U.S. allows extradition for the sodomy and sex abuse counts he faces from a 1985 indictment.
"I don't see it as a moment for celebration," said Michael Lesher, who represents six adult men who claim to have been abused by Mondrowitz.
"This is a moment of gratitude to victims who came forward, who were willing to expose their pain."
Mondrowitz has a hearing in an Israeli court Sunday that could clear the way for him to be returned to Brooklyn for trial.
The case was jump-started a few weeks ago after the U.S. and Israel agreed to extradite suspects who face at least a year in prison.
Mondrowitz was once a popular child psychologist and youth counselor in Borough Park, where he was especially well-known among ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews.
He fled to Israel after several boys filed horrific complaints claiming he sodomized them after befriending them or taking them to amusement parks and movies.
Sometimes, he would rape them in his counseling office even as their parents waited outside, the boys claimed.
"Finally, justice will prevail," said Rabbi Mark Dratch of J-SAFE, a child-abuse prevention group.
Mondrowitz's wife insisted he would fight extradition.
"He's absolutely innocent," she said at their Jerusalem apartment.
Mondrowitz's case attracted controversy because critics claimed District Attorney Joe Hynes put the explosive case on the back burner under pressure from Hasidic community leaders. His office has emphatically denied that charge and insisted it was pushing for a legal way to try Mondrowitz.