Lebovits is not in prison now, which is a frightening thought for our community. It might even cause flashbacks for survivors of abuse. It is definitely a slap in the face of every victim of his to see their abuser released from prison.
But Lebovits is not free. He is under house arrest for 120 days and then he is back in prison, since the appeal does not negate his conviction. Frum Follies has explained this situation.
Still, concerned citizens are worried about this molester being out of prison, and are wondering what this says about our justice system. Many abuse victims are getting confirmation for their worst fear, that "There is no point in going to the police. They just set the abusers free. They don't punish them."
Here are Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg's reassuring words, loosely translated from the Yiddish-language recording that he posted on his website:
"There were a number of victims who came forward against Lebovits. Let's call them Victim A, B, and C. The appeal cannot overturn the conviction since the conviction was based on the testimony of Victim A. The bribery allegations which just came to light were only against Victim B, who did not even testify in court. So there is no way this appeal can get Lebovits off the hook. It is a blessing that Victim B was not allowed to testify; for had he testified, the entire conviction would have been tainted by the new bribery allegations against him (Victim B). Now that he did not testify, he cannot taint the conviction, which was based solely on the (untainted) testimony of Victim A.
"Victim C was also never brought to testify since it was only a misdemeanor, and compared to the felony charge by Victim A, the court deemed it a waste of time to process the smaller charge of Victim C.
"The only benefit Lebovits may have from this appeal is that it may lead to a retrial. Although it would just be a repeat trial in many ways, since Victim A would still testify against him and convict him, Lebovits might be hoping that the second trial judge will be more lenient. 32 years is a long time, and is not even meted out to murderers. Perhaps the retrial judge would lessen the punishment.
"This trial has the potential to lead to the exposure of many corrupt individuals in our community who have been operating for the past 40 years without any interference. These allegations of bribery against Kellner might force Kellner to expose many corrupt people who have been taking money and offering hush money to victims and victim advocates.
"In many ways, these developments are a blessing, although they seem to be a blow to the anti-abuse movement (in that they make it appear that an innocent person was convicted of sexual abuse). These developments are a blessing in that they will force more facts to be revealed, and with Hashem's help bring down the corrupt structure of power-mongers in our community, which has been running the community through money and intimidation and through legal manipulations.
"This will cause the exposure of many Rabbanim who have been on the payroll of Va'ad Hatznius for many years."
For more details and specific names of people, listen to Rabbi Rosenberg's Yiddish recording. He said much that I do not have the time to transcribe right now. But the main point is, don't be discouraged by the seeming failure of the justice system. This is a slow fight, but what seems to be our biggest setback may yet be the biggest blow to the molesters and those who harbor them.
In Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg's words: "A war that is won in a day can go right back to square one the next day. This war is moving slowly, but we are winning. Soon the Va'ad Hatznius itself will be brought to court, as will all those who are on their payroll."
Keep strong, fighters.