Brooklyn, NY – The death of an outspoken advocate against sexual abuse, who was himself the victim of molestation as a child, has been classified as an accidental overdose by a Manhattan medical examiner, according to VIN News sources.
34 year old Joey Diangello, born Yoel Deutsch, was found dead on October 15th.
Diangello, who left the Satmar community at age 17, first began sharing his story of being abused in a Marcy Avenue mikvah in Williamsburg at seven years of age in 2009.
Since then, Diangello, who was featured in television interviews, attended the trials of several accused rapists within the Chasidic community. According to reports on PIX 11, he lobbied state legislators to make changes to the statutes of limitations for molestation victims in order to give them more time to come to terms with their abuse.
Prominent community activist Zvi Gluck, said that in recent years Diangello had begun getting his life back on track and Diangello described himself on Twitter as a runner who followed both the Yankees and the NFL.
Gluck had sharp words for those who refused to believe Diangello’s accounts of his abuse.
“”I am personally classifying Joey Diangello’s death as a homicide,” Gluck told VIN News. “He was murdered by those who abused him and did nothing to help him.” “We as a community have so many beautiful institutions to help people but when it comes to something as blatant as this, something that kills people, we sit by idly and do nothing. In the words of Irish statesman Edmund Burke, ‘all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’”
Diangello was buried on Sunday afternoon at the Monsey Cemetery on Brick Church Road. A small group of friends gathered at the graveside after the funeral and shared their thoughts.
“There was a person who was there, a heimishe Chasidishe man who told me quietly, ‘I have a son who is an abuse victim and I am terrified that I will be at one of these graves one day burying my son,’” said Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, director of Project YES.
Rabbi Horowitz noted that he often encountered Diangello at abuse trials and he would share how the abuse continued to haunt him on a nightly basis.
“He said to me, ‘Rabbi you have to stop this. You have to make sure that the kids are safe,’” remarked Rabbi Horowitz. “He was just a nice kid, who was in pain. People who are suffering must reach out for help. I can’t say that if you go for help you will live happily ever after but without help it is just too much for anyone to cope with.”
Diangello spoke publicly about his abuse at an Erev Yom Kippur program at Passaic’s Congregation Ahavas Israel in 2009.
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, rabbi of Ahavas Israel, who has spoken out publicly in his shul on the topic of sexual abuse, recalled that the evening’s program included a panel of five speakers, all of whom were Orthodox Jews who had been molested by members of the Jewish community.
“Truth be told we had a planned group and he just showed up and said he wanted to speak,” said Rabbi Eisenman. “He spoke on the spot and he sort of brought the house down.”
Diangello said that he was rejected by the Williamsburg community who refused to accept his reports of abuse, labeling him a bum and saying “things like that don’t happen here.”
Diangello’s appearance in Ahavas Israel marked the first time he had been in a shul since leaving Williamsburg twelve years earlier and he said that being asked to speak publicly about his abuse was “the first time in my life I have ever been validated by the Orthodox community.”
Rabbi Eisenman was in contact with Diangello for two years before losing touch with him in 2010. Diangello reconnected with Rabbi Eisenman this past summer and the two spoke on the phone and exchanged emails.
“I guess the one thing we can learn from this is to attempt to reach out more to people in pain because you never know what tomorrow may bring,” said Rabbi Eisenman. “I think anyone who met Joey was touched by him. Under all the tattoos and the heavy metal there was a precious neshama and I think a lot of people who heard him speak and kept up with him saw that. What happened to him is a tragedy.”