Man Who Threw Bleach at Outspoken Rabbi Asks for Forgiveness at Sentencing
BROOKLYN SUPREME COURT — The man convicted of throwing a cup of bleach into the face of a Williamsburg rabbi asked his victim for forgiveness during his sentencing Wednesday after the judge said he didn't "see remorse" in the man's confession letter.
"Were you sorry?" Judge Joseph E. Gubbay asked Meilech Schnitzler, who nearly blinded Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg in December 2012 when he hurled a cup of bleach into his face in what Rosenberg called an attempt to silence him from defending sex-assault victims in the Orthodox community. "The facts are very, very disturbing."
Schnitzler, whose lawyer insisted the attack was the result of a "spat" between the men, turned toward Rosenberg and and asked, "Can you please forgive me?"
"No," Rosenberg shouted, adding, "You didn't harm me. You harmed thousands of children."
The bleach attack in Williamsburg happened less than a day after prominent Rabbi Nechemya Weberman was convicted of sexually assaulting a girl for two-and-a-half years, a case in which Rosenberg openly supported the victim.
Schnitzler later pleaded guilty to assault in exchange for no jail time, five years probation and mandatory anger management training.
Rosenberg said in a victim's statement that Schlitzner's attack was an attack on all people in the community who try to cooperate in criminal justice, and the intent reflected the point of view of many others in the Hasidic community.
Shortly after the plea deal was announed, Rosenberg said teenage boys pelted him with rocks and laughed "Ha, ha, Schnitzler is going free!"
"When Schnitzler injured me, the defendant was a messenger of those in the Hasidic community who want to silence us," he said.
The judge said the court was "sympathetic" to Rosenberg's trauma.
It was "by the grace of God" that Schlitzner didn't also face a criminal disfigurement charge as well, Gubbay said. Moreover, the written statement did not seem truly apologetic, he said.
"I don't see remorse in there," he said before demanding Schlitzner to say whether he was sorry for the attack.
A spokesperson for district Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement that the sentence for the felony charge was "appropriate," considering it was Schlitzner's first arrest and that Rosenberg didn't suffer permanent damage or serious injury, though Rosenberg said he still suffers damage in his left eye.
"After reviewing the facts of the case, we determined that this is an appropriate disposition," the spokesperson said.
Rosenberg said outside of court that he doesn't believe that those who seek to silence sex-assault victims learned their lesson, adding that the no-jail plea deal was a travesty of justice.
The judge should not have demanded an apology, Rosenberg said.
"I've never seen such nonsense and idiocracy in my life," he said.
Rosenberg added that he's not convinced Schnitzler had learned his lesson either.
"Tomorrow, he's going to do it again," Rosenberg warned.