Man throws 'bleach' in the face of New York Rabbi who campaigns against child sex abuse

Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg believes attack is related to sexual abuse conviction of an ultra-Orthodox Jew

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The Independent US

A rabbi who publishes claims of child sexual abuse in New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has been hospitalised after having ‘bleach’ thrown in his face.

Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, who runs a website and phone-line to out offenders, says he was walking on Roebling Street at about midday yesterday, when a man came up behind and tapped him on the shoulder.

“He has a cup of bleach,” Rabbi Rosenberg told the New York Times, adding that he recognized the man. “And then he says ‘whoops’ and throws it in my face and walks off.”

New York police confirmed they were aware of an ongoing dispute between Rabbi Rosenberg and the man who allegedly threw the chemical, but said no arrests have yet been made.

Rabbi Rosenberg was initially taken to a medical centre where he was treated for burns to his face. The New York Times spoke to a relative of rabbi, who added that he also had a corneal abrasion to his left eye and chemical burns around his eye. He has since been released and is expected to fully recover.

The attack comes amid heightened tensions in New York’s Satmar Hasidic community following the conviction of Nechemya Weberman for repeatedly sexually abusing a girl who came to him for counselling.

Many Satmar Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighbourhood believe Mr Weberman to be innocent, and he has received the backing of the community’s rabbinical leaders.

Rabbi Rosenberg told the New York Times that he believed the ‘bleach’ attack was related to Mr Weberman’s conviction.

He added that he had also angered the community last week by making claims that another ultra-Orthodox man was also a child molester.

"Everyone is so crazy right now,” Rabbi Rosenberg said.

Police continue to investigate exactly what substance was thrown at Rabbi Rosenberg, and have taken his clothing for analysis.

The 62-year-old has been confronted over ‘outing’ sexual offenders before. In 2008 a group of rabbis and religious judges demanded the community “beware, and stay away from him, and push him out of our camp”.

Rabbi Rosenberg has refused to tone down his campaign however, and has even accused some top rabbis within the Satmar community of covering up abuse or being molesters themselves.

On Monday, he attended the Weberman trial and gave interviews to the news media praising the guilty verdict.

“Eventually, we are going to be a normal community, that everyone who is molested can come forward,” he said.

Brooklyn district attorney Charles J. Hynes, has vowed to crack down on intimidation of sexual abuse victims in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, comparing their tactics with those used by organized crime groups.

On Monday, Mr Hynes warned that people acting like “thugs” in the community would be punished, with a spokesman today confirming his office was investigating the attack on Rabbi Rosenberg.