NYT Columnist Michael Powell has today an article of how Brooklyn DA Hynes tried to get Rabbi Helbrans off kidnapping charges in of a thirteen year old boy in 1994. At the end of the day Helbrans was found guilty, which retroactively proves that Mr. Hynes dealt with favoritism in this case by trying to get it off the criminal system. But then again, Mr. Powell fails to mention that the boy – who came from a messed-up home – told the… NEW YORK TIMES in 2001 at age 21, that he was never kidnapped; which retroactively may explain Hynes’ hesitation to prosecute this case.
Here is the NYT article from April 11, 2011 written by long-time reporter Joseph P. Fried:
In 1992, Shai Fhima Reuven, 13, vanished after his mother, Hana Fhima, an immigrant from Israel living in Ramsey, N.J., sent him to receive bar mitzvah instruction at a Brooklyn yeshiva run by Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, leader of a small Hasidic sect.
Ms. Fhima and the boy’s father, Michael Reuven, who lived in Israel and was divorced from Ms. Fhima, charged that the rabbi and his followers had abducted and brainwashed a secular Shai to convert him to their zealous brand of Judaism.
Rabbi Helbrans’s lawyers said at his 1994 trial that he had not aided in Shai’s disappearance but had given sanctuary to a boy fleeing a deeply troubled family in which his stepfather had beaten him and his mother.
The rabbi was found guilty of kidnapping, jailed for two years and deported to Israel — despite testimony from Shai, who had resurfaced after two years in places like a yeshiva in France, that he had voluntarily run away after the Helbrans family showed him ”what a normal family was.”
Now 22 and living in heavily Orthodox Monsey, N.Y., Mr. Reuven repeated last week that he had been neither been abducted nor brainwashed. ”I was following the religion, not Helbrans,” he said.
”I’m religious, but not the way I was” when living among Hasidic people until he was nearly 17, he said. ”I follow the Sabbath, but don’t have side curls and don’t dress in black.”
Mr. Reuven said he reconciled with his parents five years ago and had good relations with them. He lived much of the five years in Israel, he said, working in a hotel and serving in the army.
At times during that period he stayed with his father, he said, and at times with his mother, who divorced his stepfather and returned to Israel.
Mr. Reuven, who hopes to attend computer school, said he and his parents did not talk about the past rupture. ”They feel I was brainwashed. I don’t,” he said, ”so we let it alone.”