Eyewitness News

Years in prison for years of abuse

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Bill Ritters daily take on the news.

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

One of the first stories I did for Eyewitness News was the trend - hot at the time - of young ultra-orthodox Jewish kids using heroin. The story was sparked by a rabbi's son who had OD'ed on smack, and so we started digging.

We talked to some kids in Brooklyn about drugs and their use of them. We blocked their faces because they feared reprisals. One girl told her religious school that she was going to talk to us; they told her not to, and warned that if she did, she'd be expelled.

We hid her face and concealed her voice, but the school administrators were furious with her - even though we didn't identify her - and they expelled her.

Only a few courageous adults would speak on the record about the drug use among religious teens. The others were cult-like in their silence, putting up a wall as if not talking about it would make the problems go away.

The parents of the girl who was expelled were angry - and sent her to live in Israel, convinced that her life here was ruined. It was so sad.

I thought about that early story - I think it was in 1998 - when a judge in Brooklyn today sentenced a supposed religious "counselor" to 103 years in prison because his notion of counseling was to sexually molest a teenage girl. For years.

The judge said that the victim was courageous for coming forward, and he hoped his strict sentence would send a message to other sex abuse victims: Your cries will be heard.

Let's hope. This case has sparked fierce debate in the uber orthodox Jewish community. Perhaps it's also cracked the wall of silence as well.

We'll have the latest, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, the coldest temperatures in 2 years- that's what we're facing tonight. And it's leading to some kind of snow storm come Friday. Meteorologist Lee Goldberg is tracking it all for us, and Jeff Pegues is with some people who are doing without heat tonight.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Diana Williams (in for Sade) and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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