Bobov

Jacob Daskal’s victim files suit, naming Shomrim and Bobover rebbe among co-defendants

The complaint alleges that Bobov community leaders, Boro Park Shomrim, and Jacob Daskal’s family worked together to silence victim Rivka Mandel, “creating and maintaining a regime of terror and intimidation”

Main Bobov synagogue in Borough Park. Credit: Mo Gelber/Shtetl

Jan 26, 2024 4:00 PM

Updated: 

Jacob Daskal’s victim filed a civil suit on Thursday against the former Boro Park Shomrim leader, as well as the Bobover rebbe, the Bobover rebbe’s son, Boro Park Shomrim, and many of Daskal’s family members for “creating and maintaining a regime of terror and intimidation” in trying to silence her. The suit comes after Daskal pleaded guilty to engaging in criminal sexual activity and was sentenced last October to 17.5 years in prison.

In papers filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Rivka Mandel, 22, claimed that Daskal not only raped her when she was 15, but also recruited a team of people to coerce, bribe, threaten, and intimidate her into silence, including by slashing her tires. The lawsuit blames Daskal and his supporters — including the grand rebbe of Bobov — for actions resembling “gangland enterprises,” and seeks at least $200 million in punitive damages.

The suit also excoriates “the self-described ‘Bobover’ community” for attempting to intervene in and delay Daskal’s sentencing. The Bobover rebbe and his son, among others, had submitted letters to the court in support of Daskal prior to his sentencing. The complaint quotes Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis, the judge who sentenced Daskal, as commending Mandel for her courage and chastising Daskal’s supporters: “The community has to take responsibility.”

The alleged abuse began in 2017, when Mandel, who lived in Borough Park, began having family problems. A mentor connected her to Daskal, who invited her to live with him and his family. Mandel, then just 15, said that Daskal raped her on a nightly basis, and that Daskal’s wife, adult children, and sons-in-law, some of whom were in the house while the abuse occurred, knew about it but did nothing to object or intervene. 

According to the complaint, Daskal transferred money to his children, grandchildren, and other community members in order to avoid paying for the harm he did to Mandel.

“Daskal managed a successful real estate company that brought him considerable wealth,” Garaufis said at the time of sentencing, according to the complaint. “He placed $10 million in assets for the benefit of his children and grandchildren.”

The complaint claims Daskal also transferred money to Boro Park Shomrim, a volunteer security patrol group that he previously led, for the same purpose: to avoid paying Mandel. The suit claims that members of Boro Park Shomrim knew about the crimes against Mandel, facilitated them, and helped conceal them. 

Berish Freilich, the chair of the board of Boro Park Shomrim, told Shtetl that he was not aware of such a thing.

“Everybody here was shocked, and I don’t believe that anybody knew anything,” Freilich said. “I know she’s going to try, because that’s how lawyers make money, and they’re going to come up with ideas on how to put in a lawsuit in order for her to get money.” 

The complaint also says that Daskal transferred money to multiple Haredi-run institutions and their leaders, including Shaarei Zion Bobov, the main synagogue of the Bobov Hasidic community, and the leader of that dynasty, Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam. The complaint says that the Bobver rebbe himself “had knowledge of, facilitated, aided and abetted, and concealed” Daskal’s actions, and that the rebbe’s son Chaim Halberstam did the same. 

Shtetl reached out to the Bobover rebbe and Shaarei Zion Bobov for comment, but was told no one was available to speak since Shabbos was starting soon. Shtetl also contacted Chaim Halberstam, but the call was disconnected as soon as the topic was broached. 

The suit also claims that individuals recruited by Daskal “sought to have [Mandel] meet with a New York Lawyer named Arthur L. Aidala and receive as a bribe significant sums of money to dissuade her from testifying against Daskal.” Reached by Shtetl, Aidala’s law office did not immediately provide comment.

Lauren Hakimi is a journalist whose work has appeared in The Forward, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, New York Jewish Week, WNYC/Gothamist and more. She graduated from CUNY Hunter College with degrees in history and English literature. Hailing from an Iranian Jewish community on Long Island, she looks forward to shining a light on stories that matter to the Jewish community. Follow her on Twitter @lauren_hakimi.