Abuse? What abuse?

Posted on 18 June, 2011 by

Recently, the Victorian Police sent out the following letter to boys who went to Yeshivah College about 20 years ago and were taught by a teacher who was alleged to have sexually abused some of them.

The matter was dealt with in the usual way by the leadership of Yeshivah. It was swept under the carpet and the “perp” was told to leave the country. He did this, and is now serving time in the US for exactly the same offenses.

This was raised with the police by parents of some of the victims (who were only about 8 years old at the time), and also by an older community member who claims that he was also abused while at Yeshivah College.

The Rabbinical Council issued this letter condemning child abuse and that the perps are consider a “rodef” and it’s OK to report them to the police. There is no date on the letter, but it has only been sent out recently, so it looks to be in response to the current discussion about this problem. Their letter and an open letter from Menachem Vorchheimer was sent out widely by e-mail.

One obvious question is “why dredge this up after 20 years?”. Some victims may have dealt with their pain or chosen to let sleeping dogs lie. It is clear that some have not. They have their right to justice and to see the perpetrator punished for his crimes.

What of the school leadership and Rabbonim at the time? This was before mandatory reporting was introduced. However, they still had a duty of care to their students. Was it enough to send the guy away and make sure that he can’t hurt any more kids here?

What about the other cases of child and sexual abuse in our community? Has anyone been outed and punished by the law as they should be? No.

Will anyone get up and say that the “old way” of dealing with child abusers was wrong? Will anyone help the victims so they aren’t stigmatized?

Is the RCV statement enough? Will all the schools take a public stand on this? How about education so the terrible idea that “I won’t be able to make a shidduch if people find out” is dealt with?

Lots of questions, and not many answers. The leaders and Rabbonim have to take a much stronger stand here against people who hurt children. In the past, they have not done nearly enough. The claims that we don’t have “problems like that” in our community are just nonsense. At best, if they just send an abuser away, they are responsible for what he or her does in the next city they go to. At worst, they have allowed more abusers to get away with it, and have not done the right thing by the victims.

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