Letter written to JEWISH WEEK, Feb. 27, 2002, by Leonard J. Lehrman

Prosecutor's Power

[printed] March 14, 2002

To the Editor:

Whatever the merit of the sexual harassment charges against Cantor Howard Nevison of Temple Emanu-el may be, or not, the behavior of Montgomery County district attorney Bruce L. Castor, Jr., in bringing them should not go unchallenged. Cantor Nevison had known for several years about the accusations that might be made against him, and had informed the Temple leadership about them. When Mr. Castor decided to bring charges, he could have arranged with Cantor Nevison's attorneys for a quiet arraignment.

Instead, Mr. Castor had him arrested in his apartment in the dead of night - at 5:30 am - and then publicized his alleged sexual misconduct of more than 40 years ago - behavior not included in the current charges. And when New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's office refused to support Mr. Castor's demand for $500,000 bail, and it was set instead at $100,000 - allowing Mr. Nevison to remain free - he criticized Mr. Morgenthau, a Temple Emanu-el trustee.

Sexual slander is subject to few constraints today. When such accusations are made, the presumption of innocence is often jettisoned, and the charges are immediately accepted widely. Prosecutorial powers must therefore be used responsibly.

Sincerely, (Dr.) Leonard J. Lehrman