The founder of the Borough Park Shomrim, a patrol group with close ties to the NYPD, is facing new federal charges for alleged child sexual abuse.
Jacob Daskal, 62, was arrested Thursday on three counts relating to his alleged statutory rape of a teenage girl over a period of months beginning in the summer of 2017.
Prosecutors allege that Daskal took the girl in when she was 15, grooming her for an abusive relationship that included sexual intercourse in his Brooklyn home, his upstate New York summer house, and a Chicago hotel.
He was arrested on state charges in 2018 for allegedly abusing the same victim, and has been out on bail in that case for nearly three years. The involvement of federal prosecutors means he could face significantly more jail time — two of the charges carry a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison.
At his arraignment on Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Reid outlined the "shocking" allegations against Daskal, describing him as "a person who held considerable power in the Orthodox community, who was entrusted with the care of a minor 15-year-old girl and who abused that trust and that power for his own sexual needs."
For decades, Daskal played a leading role in the Borough Park Shomrim, a controversial Hasidic neighborhood patrol group that maintains a close relationship with the NYPD's 66th precinct. "That was a considerable power that he used against this young girl," Reid said.
After the unnamed girl moved to Chicago, Daskal requested that she pose nude for him during video chats, and at one point traveled to the city to have sex with her in a hotel room, according to the complaint.
Daskal entered a plea of not guilty on Thursday. His attorney, Henry Mazurek, argued that his client should not be detained ahead of the trial because he had made appearances in his state case, pointing to his large family — eight children and 36 grandchildren — as evidence of his "extraordinary ties to the community."
Members of the family agreed to put up their homes as part of a $4.5 million bond, which Judge Peggy Kuo accepted.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn District Attorney, which was prosecuting the state's case, told Gothamist: “We believe that this defendant, who crossed state lines to allegedly sexually assault a child, should be held fully accountable for his alleged conduct and we therefore worked with the federal authorities to bring charges in federal court, where the potential punishment is more severe."
The state case will likely be dropped, according to a source close to the investigation.