The Williamsburg man accused of throwing a cup of bleach into a Rabbi's face in ultra-Orthodox South Williamsburg was indicted yesterday. Meilech Schnitzler, 37, is accused of approaching Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg on the street one afternoon earlier this month and assaulting him with bleach, then running off. Rosenberg runs a controversial website that identifies alleged child molesters in the ultra-Orthodox community, and according to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Schnitzler's father was named on Rosenberg's website as a pedophile. (Kelly made it clear that Schnitzler's father had not been charged.)
Rosenberg immediately flushed out his eyes with water after the attack, which a doctor says saved him from going blind. But Rosenberg says that the "pain was unimaginable." He was treated for burns at Woodhull Hospital and sustained a corneal abrasion to his left eye and chemical burns around his eye. "He taps on my shoulder, he says 'whoops' and throws it in my face," Rosenberg told a Daily News reporter at the hospital. He subsequently identified his alleged assailant to police.
Schnitzler, a fishmonger who operates Schnitzler’s Famous Fish in South Williamsburg, is charged with two counts of Attempted Assault in the First Degreem, Assault in the Second Degree, Assault in the Third Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the top count.
“This indictment alleges an act of thuggery in broad daylight that cannot be tolerated,” Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes said in a statement. “The indictment sends a clear message that anyone who would seek to intimidate someone opposed to the uncovering of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community will face serious criminal charges and if convicted, I will ask for the maximum jail time." Hynes has faced pressure from Rosenberg's lawyer to turn the case over to a special prosecutor, because of his perceived failure to aggressively prosecute sex offenders in the tightly-knit Satmar Jewish community.
The bizarre December 11th attack occurred on day after the conviction of Nechemya Weberman, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish leader from Williamsburg who was convicted of sexually abusing a young girl for three years between 2007 and 2010. Rosenberg, who attended much of the trial, has been ostracized by some community leaders for his advocacy, and many in the neighborhood still believe Weberman and others are innocent. Notices printed in local newspapers have declared, in Hebrew, "The public must beware, and stay away from [Rosenberg], and push him out of our camp."