The head of a private Orthodox Jewish security patrol in Brooklyn was indicted on Thursday by a US federal court for the rape of a 15-year-old girl.
Jacob Daskal, who founded the Shomrim group of Borough Park nearly 30 years ago, was charged with coercing a minor to engage in illicit sexual conduct, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Daskal was arrested Thursday morning and was slated to be arraigned in the afternoon.
The 62-year-old had already been indicted on state-level charges in 2018 over the incidents, which took place a year prior. Daskal had posted a $75,000 bond and had attended several hearings since then, though the case had been progressing slowly. A source familiar with the case told The Times of Israel that the state charges are likely to be dropped in place of the new federal ones.
According to the original indictment against him, Daskal sexually assaulted the victim in his Brooklyn home as well as his summer home in South Fallsburg, New York in August 2017. Two months later, the victim moved to Chicago to attend a new school and live with another family. While she was there, Daskal contacted the victim — also from a Haredi community — and coerced her into video chatting naked and sending him nude photos. In November of that year, Daskal traveled to Chicago to visit the victim, bringing her to his hotel room and raping her.
“Daskal, who was almost 60 years old when these crimes were committed, exploited the vulnerability of a young teenager by grooming her for sex and enticing her into having sexual relations with him,” Acting United States Attorney Seth DuCharme said in a statement.
“A man who founded an organization aimed at creating a safer community should know the difference between right and wrong…Mr. Daskal’s position of influence may have helped him attempt to silence his victim,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said, calling anyone aware of other victims of Daskal to come forward.
If convicted, Daskal faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life in prison.
Daskal is the central figure in the Shomrim, also known as the Brooklyn South Safety Patrol. The organization, made up largely of local Hasidic business owners in Borough Park, patrols Borough Park in marked cars, and is a powerful force in the neighborhood. Daskal was one of the original “Bakery Boys,” young Hasidic men who formed the group with police support in the mid-1990s, according to The Forward.
Since then, Daskal and the Shomrim have cultivated close ties with the local precinct.