Bleach Attack on Advocate for Sexual Abuse Victims

A fishmonger hurled bleach at an advocate for victims of sexual abuse. Both are members of Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish community.

Chana Ya'ar ,

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
Flash 90

A Williamsburg fishmonger hurled a cup of bleach Tuesday at a rabbi who advocates for victims of sexual abuse. Both are members of Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish community.

Police have charged 36-year-old Williamsburg resident Meilech Schnitzler, for allegedly throwing the chemical at Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg as he walked near Schnitzler's fish store on Tuesday. For years, Rosenberg has been blogging about sexual abuse in the hareidi-religious Jewish community.

The rabbi's face and eyes were burned by the bleach, and his clothes were ruined as well, according to a police report.

Schnitzler, the chairman of the company that owns Schnitzler's Famous Fish, turned himself in to the 90th NYPD precinct, police said. He was  charged with felony assault, criminal possession of a weapon, misdemeanor assault, menacing and criminal mischief, according to a police spokesman.

Rosenberg, 62, has told media that in the past, efforts to intimidate him have not been taken seriously by the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes. He also accused Hynes of turning a blind eye to crime in the Brooklyn hareidi-religious community for financial and political gain. The position of district attorney in New York is an elective office.

Tensions are high this week, due to the conviction on Monday of Rabbi Nehemia Weberman, a prominent self-styled “counselor” in New York's hareidi-religious Jewish community. Weberman was convicted on 59 counts of sexual abuse. 

However, police said there appeared to be no connection between the attack on Rosenberg and the conviction of Weberman, who had the backing of the community's rabbinical leaders as well as much of the Jewish community both in the United States and abroad. 

The district attorney's office warned Monday that people acting like “thugs” in the community would be punished. The next day, Hynes spokesman Jerry Schmetterer said the attack on Rosenberg would be investigated.