The founder of a private police auxiliary group in New York City was arrested Thursday on charges of child sex abuse.
Jacob “Yanky” Daskal, the president and founder of the Shomrim Society neighborhood patrol group, was charged with transporting a 15-year-old girl across state lines for sex, traveling to meet her for sex in another state, and coercing her into having sex, authorities said Thursday. Daskal pleaded not guilty.
“A man who founded an organization aimed at creating a safer community should know the difference between right and wrong,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney, said in a press release.
The Shomrim, a neighborhood patrol group in Brooklyn’s heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Borough Park, take their name from the Hebrew word, meaning “guards.”
The Shomrim’s patch is nearly identical to that of the NYPD’s, and they travel in similarly marked patrol cars. While they are unarmed, the Shomrim serve as a hybrid of police liaison and auxiliary for the Hasidic communities of Brooklyn, often more willing to reach out to those of their own faith and culture than outsider cops.
“[T]he brazenness and callousness of the defendant’s conduct in the instant case, particularly when coupled with his abuse of his position of power in the Orthodox Jewish community and as an associate of the NYPD, reveals his total disregard for the law and the well-being of others,” U.S. Assistant Attorney Erin Reid wrote, in a letter arguing for Daskal’s pre-trial detention.
Authorities believe that Daskal’s abuse spanned multiple states. According to Reid’s letter, Daskal’s relationship with the girl began in 2017, traveling together between Brooklyn and his summer home in the Catskills, with stops in New Jersey.
When she moved to Illinois in 2017, according to the letter, Daskal helped her find a new school—and demanded that she send him naked pictures. In November of that year, Daskal traveled to Chicago to meet with her at a hotel, where he statutorily raped her, the letter alleges.
“Throughout the abuse, the defendant regularly told the victim that he loved her. He also threatened the victim not to tell anyone about their sexual relationship,” Reid wrote. “The victim was afraid of the defendant because of his position of power in her community.”
At some point, the two broke contact. In 2018, according to the letter, Daskal repeatedly “tried to contact and follow the victim,” prompting her to tell a mentor about Daskal’s alleged abuse.
While the case remains pending before the Kings County Supreme Court, according to Daskal’s detention letter, the county DA’s office plans on dismissing his county charges in the wake of the federal charges.
At the time of his 2018 arrest, Daskal was the treasurer for State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, then a first-time candidate. He resigned from Eichenstein’s campaign after his arrest.
As the New York Post reported in 2018, Daskal had also donated thousands to Eichenstein’s predecessor, the controversial Dov Hikind, as well as state Sen. Simcha Felder and Mayor Bill de Blasio during his 2009 campaign for the city’s public advocate job.
The Shomrim, a private group that has previously received city funding, have been at the center of controversy for their status as a para-police group.
In 2010, a Brooklyn man named David Flores shot four Shomrim members after they responded to a report of him allegedly masturbating in his car near children.
However, 911 phone records submitted as evidence in Flores’ trial reported a witness telling operators that Flores was dragged out of his car by Shomrim members and kicked repeatedly, only firing his gun in self-defense.
Flores was acquitted of all charges at trial. According to The New York Times, some jurors were so upset by the case that they stopped to hug Flores’ mother as they left the courtroom.
But, according to the Daily News, Daskal said of the case, "Nobody did anything wrong. Nobody even touched him, just followed him—that's the protocol."
In 2012, Daskal argued the NYPD should not have access to publicly-funded cameras in Shomrim-patrolled neighborhoods, as it could lead to unwanted prosecution of crimes.
“The camera is very good for the community, but if it’s a private thing,” Daskal said, according to The Forward. “If it’s a public thing, it might hurt a person who doesn’t want to arrest her husband for domestic violence.”
Daskal’s attorney said Thursday he had not been involved with the organization since his 2018 arrest.
Daskal appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo for arraignment Thursday afternoon. He was released on a $4.5 million bond, on the condition he does not leave New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey, and does not contact the victim or any minors outside of his family.