Watch CBS News

Brooklyn DA Dropping 'Bogus' Charges Against Sex Abuse Whistleblower

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - Prosecutors say they'll move to drop all charges against a Brooklyn man in a controversial extortion case involving a Hasidic Jewish religious leader.

District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said prosecutors don't think they could prove the charges against sex abuse whistleblower Samuel Kellner at trial.

As WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reported, Kellner was a whistleblower in several sex abuse cases in the ultra Orthodox Jewish community. He had reported that his son and others were sexually abused by Baruch Lebovits, a prominent Hasidic cantor.

Brooklyn DA Dropping 'Bogus' Charges Against Sex Abuse Whistleblower

It led to a high-profile conviction for the then District Attorney Charles Hynes.

Thompson has moved to dismiss pending charges in a case that he claims was botched by his predecessor.

Kellner's lawyer says the move is long overdue.

Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind also praised Thompson's decision to drop the case against Kellner.

"This case was a miscarriage of justice. This case involved former DA Hynes playing politics with someone's life," he said. "It wasn't a close call, it was unequivocal, it was clear that Sam Kellner, the charges against him were bogus."

Kellner was charged in 2011 with extorting Baruch Lebovits.

The Brooklyn cantor was convicted in 2010 of abusing a boy whom Kellner had referred to prosecutors.

Lebovits got his conviction overturned on appeal in 2012 by accusing the whistleblower of bribing witnesses to testify against him.

The new DA said those witnesses have backtracked on their stories and he can't prove the extortion and bribery case against Kellner, so those charges are being dropped.

"When Hynes was still the DA a few months ago, two of his own ADAs recommended dropping the charges and Hynes and his people refused to do that. The question is why. Why? It should be about justice, not about going after somebody for political motives," Hikind said.

Lebovits's family opposes the plans to dismiss the extortion case.

During the 2013 election, Thompson called the case botched while his predecessor stood behind the prosecution.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.