The president of the Shomrim's Brooklyn South Safety Patrol was arrested for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl. A police source tells the Daily News that Jacob Daskal, 59, abused the girl between August and November of 2017.
The NYPD tells Gothamist that Daskal is charged with rape, criminal sex act, forcible touching, child endangerment and sexual abuse. Investigators are looking into whether the alleged abuse "lasted longer," according to the Post's source. The Post adds, "Insiders say Daskal has friends in high places and claim his political largesse got him in tight with elected officials. 'He’s a well-connected guy. In Borough Park, he’s a big deal — a macher,' or important person, said one insider who requested anonymity, noting that Daskal is particularly close to retiring Assemblyman Dov Hikind."
Hikind spoke to the Forward about the Daskal's arrest, saying, "Obviously, it’s disturbing. I’m just digesting it. My phone hasn’t stopped with the messages. I’m in my office. He lives down the block here."
The Shomrim is an extremely active neighborhood watch group organized by Orthodox Jews, and has cultivated strong ties with local police precincts. Its members have also been accused of vigilante-style brutality and corruption, including attacking and accusing a man of public lewdness (the man was acquitted); brutally beating a black man in Williamsburg; and bribing NYPD officials for gun permits. In a 2016 NY Times article about the power wielded by the Shomrim, Daskal said, "It’s a very sad reality in our community that you have many people dedicated to helping and a small minority of critics on the sidelines questioning our motives. It’s always the good ones who get criticized."
According to the Forward, Daskal and other Hasidic men formed the safety group in the mid-1990s:
Since then, Daskal and the Shomrim have cultivated close ties to the local precinct. A former member of the Shomrim told the Forward in 2016 that Daskal was able to arrange for Orthodox Jews arrested on minor crimes in Boro Park to be released with a ticket ordering them to appear before a judge, rather than being booked through the central system. Daskal denied at the time that he played that role.
In 2012, Daskal argued against giving police access publicly-funded security cameras installed throughout Boro Park, telling the Forward that it could lead to unwanted police involvement in domestic violence matters. “The camera is very good for the community, but if it’s a private thing,” Daskal told the Forward at the time. “If it’s a public thing it might hurt a person who doesn’t want to arrest her husband for domestic violence.”
The Brooklyn DA's office says an indictment is expected this afternoon.