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The First Arrest – A Grassroots Movement to Protect our Children

September 6, 2011 – 10:31 pm106 Comments

By Malki Rose

Today is unique in Australian Jewish community history.

The first arrest has been made, and a man has been charged with 16 counts of indecent assault and 13 counts of gross indecency.

In coming days, those who were responsible for enabling these acts to occur will be shaking in their boots.

This issue, although currently challenging Chabad (because it is the first time it is being confronted openly) is not about Chabad and it is detrimental to victims the world over that the issue is being ‘owned’.

Chabad does, however, much like Adass and the Beth HaTalmud community, need to confront the issue openly and honestly and change its mindset about how best to manage treatment of victims and predators.  This is the current challenge to the Orthodox leadership. Other communities, the world over, have had to confront this. It is now our turn.

Shortly after my previous piece on this topic was published, Manny Waks of the Capital Jewish Forum came forward to the media to speak about his own experience as a victim of sexual abuse.

The result of his stepping forward has been two-fold.

Firstly, that some have felt emboldened to do the same and the issue itself has been taken out of the shadows and brought the conversation to the forefront of the Jewish community. This has led directly to the arrest.

Secondly, that other victims of multiple predators have retreated back into the shadows for fear of having their own names or names of their families published by media outlets in much the same way.

In the past three months many young victims and their abusers have been subjects of complete mental collapse, financial ruin, suicide attempts and family breakdown.

Some see this as the “unfortunate collateral damage of sexual abuse” while others have seen this as the direct result of “vicious rumour, gossip and an over-zealous media frenzy”.

Despite this, the fact that the discussion is now taking place at all is what is most significant and has brought a new level of vigilance to our community.

But vigilance on its own can be crippling. Without assertive action it can develop into a hyper-paranoid culture of community fear.

The Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence have been running a program in Jewish schools to teach youngsters about keeping themselves safe. Thus far parents are reportedly very satisfied with the program as being “age appropriate” and providing the right balance of caution and information.

But what steps are being taken to actively help victims?

Thus far, short of several “statements of support for victims, where is the action from our leadership, our rabbis?” asked one ‘concerned parent’.

How do we stop predators? How do we make sure that predators are not being enabled? What do you do if you find out that a child you know is being or has been molested? Or if you have information on a predator? And one of the questions which has been most challenging to parents who are unsure or in denial “Something happened to my child, but is that really considered molestation, or is it a single, forgivable misunderstanding that I shouldn’t make a big deal about?”

One leader remarked privately, “We are not psychologists, we cannot possibly offer help to victims, they have to seek it themselves”.

There are two major problems with this statement.

The first problem is with the first assertion. Granted they cannot offer the help directly. But they simply must provide the access to the resources. If not our leaders then who will step up and provide proactive solutions and helpful advice for victims and their families?

The second problem is with the second assertion. The problem being that it is, to a large extent, true. If people do not speak up there is no possible way we can know they have been harmed nor to help them.

But we are a community of great distrust of outsiders, for many culturally sensitive and historically justifiable reasons. Even with a thousand rabbinical statements encouraging victims to go to the police, most would still never dream of going to an ‘outside authority’.

There remain four key fears factors:

  1. Nobody will believe me (will think I am exaggerating);
  2. Telling someone (rabbi, police, psychologist) could cause a lot of trouble for myself, my family and my community;
  3. People will get angry and I will become ostracized;
  4. I have no idea how to deal with this, where to start, who to go to or that I can even cope with this.

Victims and their families need large-scale, practical and ongoing support in tackling all four of these factors.

Yeshiva’s statement issued earlier today to parents is NOT action. It is yet another statement.

The failure by leadership to act means that the responsibility to do so has been left to the people. To the parents, to the kids, to the families and to the victims themselves.

At best we have a small handful of suspected child molesters roaming freely up and down Carlisle Street and sitting in mikvehs, with no suggestion by leading authorities that current systems are to be overhauled to flush out the dangers within.

No suggestion that the administrative hiring policies in shules, schools and youth organisations be re-examined and no suggestion that the men’s mikveh be closed and rebuilt in the style of the more spiritual women’s mikveh, to allow for more private bathing rather than the gratuitously Roman style of public nude bathing, which has already proven a breeding ground for inappropriate behaviour towards young boys.

Sick and tired of watching their leaders sit on their hands, one group of concerned individuals have decided the issue is too grave to wait a moment longer.

They are not part of the Yeshiva Centre. They are not Rabbis. They are not affiliated in any way with the Victorian or Australian Jewish leadership and most of them have little to do with each other socially.

But their united and growing concern is fast bringing about an ever-strengthening grassroots movement towards better protection of children in the Jewish community.

“If our leaders won’t do it”, one organiser commented, “then we bloody well better”.

And while they are not affiliated with any group, they are calling on leaders, authorities and experts in the field to assist in any way possible.

Another of the organisers remarked “Parents need to hear from experts on how to handle things, and what to do in these situations. People need real solutions and real advice from those in the know”.

To aid in this, they will be holding a discussion evening in a private home this Thursday evening in East St Kilda, where concerned individuals will be able to ask questions and seek advice from Detective Scott Wells of the Victoria Police Sexual offences unit, Dr Joe Tucci of the Australian Children’s Foundation and the Department of Human Services amongst others. Click here or here to see the flyer for the evening.

All who are keen to know more about what to do, the how’s and who’s and where’s of getting help or support for someone who has been molested are welcome and encouraged to attend.

It is now clear that something has changed. The shift in mindset and the raw emotion of our communities trauma has placed us well outside of our comfort zone. And today, finally the first of many arrests to come.

For the victims sakes, this can only and ultimately be a good thing. The conversation has started. The action has started (Courtesy of ordinary people, not our leaders!) This is a good thing and it means there is hope for those who never thought there would be.

It is time for this to stop. The community is small and many of us know who the predators are; they walk our streets, pray next to us in synagogues, teach our children and yet those who know this remain silent, more keen to protect their own interests and every moment we as a community do not act is another child harmed.

 

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106 Comments »

  • David Carroll says:

    Thank God. I’m from the catholic system, and we have more than 24 suicides on our list from our school and its affiliates.! It’s not about religion, it’s about people abusing the trust we gave them. It is time for this to stop. We, as adults refuse to let this happen again.

    We have to hope that the children have the strength to come forward, and we have to accept that some of them won’t. Many are in their 40’s and 50’s now, and their perpetrators may well be dead. It’s our responsibility to make sure it stops.

    David

  • Joe in Australia says:

    The link for the flyer doesn’t seem to be working.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Good on you Malki. I am secular as you know, but from an insider’s-outsider perspective, this is as serious as what has gone on in the Catholic system and it is international in scope because people have gone from one country to another. Chabad and other groups seem infected by this cover-up mentality.

    One phrase from Rabbi Feldman keeps ringing in my head that “all credible allegations” should be immediately reported, and this is filtered through rabbinical authorities, when it appears that too many of the insiders don’t want to do anything and/or are completely under-qualified to consider the issue. It is up to them–the people who appear to be most incompetent, to filter what is “credible”.

    Chabad and others have every right to believe what they want, but a key principle to be kept in mind is “do no harm”, particularly to children. It appears to be that harm is being done via the group/cult dependency money and power syndrome that is characteristic of such tight religious communities, whether it is in the Jewish community, the Catholic community, Brethren, The Family or others.

  • der ruv says:

    Police prosecutor yesterday in court regarding Yeshivah College’s cooperation with police: “lies that have been told to police and information that has been twisted and covered up”.

    Letter sent to the Yeshivah community yesterday by Rabbi Y. Smukler, Yeshivah College Principal: “the College continues to cooperate fully with the Police”.

  • WasThere says:

    I’m curious as to why you did not name the person arrested?

  • James says:

    This arrest is a good step forward in the effort to stamp out paedophilia and exploitation of children in the Jewish Community.
    However, the media coverage has been a bit disappointing referring to a “Jewish Community cover up”. Certain unscrupulous individuals have certainly been involved in a cover up, but it to smear the community is I think a bit harsh.

  • WasThere says:

    Was lucky that yesterday was such a busy media day with the hostage situation in Parramatta, the Carl Williams murder trial and the PM in NZ or the coverage could have been much more then just a small story in the Australian.

    The reality is that the orthodox community has covered up these crimes for years and the non-orthodox community have had enough.

  • Malki Rose says:

    The link is fixed, please try again.

    All are encouraged to attend the evening, which the organisers hope will be a positive step forward.

    WasThere,
    this is not about orthodox Vs non-orthodox, people in every community cover things up (perhaps read the article, instead of just the first line).

    It is not something that is accurately termed a ‘cover up’ because that would imply a complex and organised effort to control information. But there was nothing organised about leaderships simple failure to report and failure to act.

    I did not mention the name of the individual arrested because the piece is not about him.
    If you do not know the name of the person, you’ll probably find it with a quick google search in about 0.0087 seconds.

    Larry,
    That phrase “all credible allegations” is one that sends a chill up my spine too.
    In all of this ‘innocent until proven guilty’ jargon, their is a single innocence which is consistently forgotten by not just our leaders but by many in the legal world, and it makes my stomach churn.

    For some reason if an adult woman turns up at a shelter in the middle of the night needing somewhere to stay on the grounds that she has been raped or beaten, she is provided immediate safety.

    If a child were to do the same, they would not be offered shelter or safety until such time as their ‘allegation’ had first been investigated by police or DHS and found to be credible.

    I know there are all kinds of legal reasons for the latter situation, but it does not matter. A child is immediately doubted in these situations, and their innocence of least importance.

    This kind of social and legal structure places an unfair onus on child victims to navigate bureaucracy that adults can barely figure out.

    Sexual abuse cases are sadly treated in this way by Rabbinical leaders.

    If a child comes to you and says that something has happened to them. Believe them!
    Very few would actually make it up!

  • Hi Joe (and anyone else with problems accessing the flyer),

    For some unknown reason, the link to the flyer did not work on some people’s computers. We’ve now created a new link. Please try again, and let us know if you have any more problems accessing the flyer.

  • Erold says:

    WasThere writes “The reality is that the orthodox community has covered up these crimes for years and the non-orthodox community have had enough”

    On what basis do you blame a whole community for the events of some individuals? This is not a religious vs’ secular war.

    As an Orthodox Jew who perosnally supports victims and have made a police statement leading to yesterday’s arrest, I am disgusted by you comment and the modertaors of this website should take it off. It should also be known that all the organisers of the event refered to are part of the orthodox community.

  • WasThere says:

    this is not about orthodox Vs non-orthodox, people in every community cover things up (perhaps read the article, instead of just the first line).

    It is not something that is accurately termed a ‘cover up’ because that would imply a complex and organised effort to control information. But there was nothing organised about leaderships simple failure to report and failure to act.

    Well it is, and it was.
    It’s the orthodox who are of the opinion that these matters should not be reported. And they continue to hold this position even now.

    And it is a cover up. Groner covered it up years ago and those there today continued the cover up even when police began the investigation.
    So yes it was “a complex and organised effort to control information”. (The police did clearly state this).

    Of course we all know who it was but I was just curious why you didn’t name him.

  • James says:

    WasThere, I would be interested to know what you mean when you refer to “orthodox”. You would find that most orthodox Jews share your abhorrence for this disgusting behaviour. I also do not think this is the appropriate forum to be naming names or throwing around accusations. Be civil please.

  • Alex Fein says:

    We need to make absolutely clear that this fear of authorities and rabbinic opprobrium is isolated to a very small section of the community.

    75% of Jews are irreligious and would never consider asking a rabbi’s advice in such a matter. Most wouldn’t even be aware of religious prohibitions against going to the police.

    Of the 25% that are religious, many are Religious Zionist/Modern Orthodox. I cannot imagine many of them treating molestation as a religious – rather than criminal – issue.

    That leaves us with a very small proportion of Jews who are subject to the intimidation that we’ve seen in Chabad and Addass.

    And even in that group, there are many parents and families that place the well-being of their children beyond the self-serving dictates of certain rabbis.

    It’s pretty important for us to distinguish this when we write publicly, because the vast majority of the community isn’t actually part of this particular religious culture.

  • Alex Fein says:

    WasThere, you’re indulging in some pretty lazy thinking.

    Others have already pointed out that lumping all orthodoxy together is ridiculous.

    Without the help of many orthodox individuals and families, the police would have never attained the necessary evidence leading to the arrest.

    Many secular individuals care deeply about this issue and I’m sure many have helped in every way they could.

    But there is actually a really insidious role a small few in the secular community are playing as well.

    The Australian Jewish News is a community – as opposed to a religious – publication.

    As I said in my previous post, 75% of Jews are not religious, and the AJN clearly caters to that.

    So when the AJN decided to weigh in on the Feldman “scandal” it was acting as a pluralist – even secular – mouthpiece. They never approached the story from a religious position.

    Ironically, the AJN wound up doing serious damage to the cause of religious people demanding transparency and accountability.

    After a triumphalist expose in which the AJN claimed to have the scoop on Feldman and his alleged problematic attitudes, they then caved completely and published a full page apologia.

    The paper indulged in what can only be described as abject grovelling in the hope – I assume – of not getting sued.

    Why didn’t they get their “expose” of Feldman properly legalled in the first place?

    Not even Feldman himself denies saying the phrase: “all credible allegations” – that it is up to rabbis to determine whether allegations are credible before going to the police.

    Unafraid of – and protected from – the defamation suits that Rabbi Feldman threatened him with, Shmarya Rosenberg has published *in full* an email conversation he had with Rabbi Feldman.

    I strongly recommend it for anyone who may be wondering if there has been any cultural shift at all.

    It’s very revealing.

    http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2011/09/a-dialogue-with-rabbi-yosef-feldman-about-child-sexual-abuse-123.html

  • WasThere says:

    Alex if you’ve read the FM pages then you know full well that the AJN only posted an apology after Feldman lied his way out of it and got others to lie for him. Clearly the AJN did so to avoid a legal fight and not because they got it wrong.

    As for your 25%(which I’m sure is a fair guesstimate on your part) whilst this may be true the problem is the large number of that 25%(most of whom are in a position of power)have done all they could to cover this all up and to hinder the police investigation.
    Detective Metcher said so herself and she would know as she is the lead detective who investigated and made the arrest yesterday.

    The reality is that the frum community has covered up these crimes both in Melbourne and Sydney and no I’m not just reffering to Yeshivah.
    Sure there are some in the frum community who are outraged by the cover ups but ALL of the non-frum community are even more outraged.

    Either way the lies, cover ups and sweeping under the carpet MUST stop once and for all. The school must offer and pay for counciling for the victims and steps must be taken to see that this never happens again.

  • R B says:

    From the phrasing of the report report at The Age, it seems that this newspaper enjoys throwing mud at the Jewish community as a whole. Well, it has already been said that anti-Israelism is simply anti-Semitism for intellectual, and in some occasion this cover is eroded and the anti-semitic character is revealed.

  • Care for our children says:

    Hi Malki,

    In order to give maximum exposure to the information being communicated tomorrow night, it might be worth recording the speeches and posting the audio version online (on this site or on the Jewish Taskforce site if they have one). That way people who can’t attend can still benefit by listening at a later date.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Hi WasThere.

    I’ll answer each of your points:

    “Alex if you’ve read the FM pages then you know full well that the AJN only posted an apology after Feldman lied his way out of it and got others to lie for him. Clearly the AJN did so to avoid a legal fight and not because they got it wrong.”

    My argument was not that the initial scoop was wrong – it’s that either the AJN didn’t do its legal homework or was just too gutless to defend itself.

    There cannot be any excuse whatsoever for the craven, grovelling apology the AJN made. It was an offence to anyone with any integrity and was a genuine setback for those seeking justice.

    “As for your 25%(which I’m sure is a fair guesstimate on your part) whilst this may be true the problem is the large number of that 25%(most of whom are in a position of power)have done all they could to cover this all up and to hinder the police investigation.
    Detective Metcher said so herself and she would know as she is the lead detective who investigated and made the arrest yesterday.”

    The 25% is not a guesstimate – numbers are based on the Monash Gen08 study.

    Within that 25% there are many who have nothing to do with Chabad/Addas or any ultra-orthodox group. They keep shabbat, eat kosher, and are big on Zionism.

    Within the Chabad community itself, there were some pretty serious rifts.

    This whole case could never have happened without the help and courage of a number of Chabad families.

    What’s important is *not* to conflate *all* religious people and the institutions.

    My belief is that some of the institutions are rotten to the core. I’ve written here previously that I consider the facilitators of the abuse as – if not more – guilty than the actual perpetrators.

    “The reality is that the frum community has covered up these crimes both in Melbourne and Sydney and no I’m not just reffering to Yeshivah.”

    I’m the last person who’d argue that there’s been a vile cover up.

    But if you don’t distinguish, then those people who are part of those religious communities will dismiss you as ignorant of the complexities of their populations.

    “Sure there are some in the frum community who are outraged by the cover ups but ALL of the non-frum community are even more outraged.”

    Sorry. That’s just idiotic.

    Many frummers (religious people) were outraged enough to devote huge chunks of time to help police, support the abused and their families, write here on Galus to support them publicly…

    And the AJN?

    Seriously?

    You want to talk about outrage? I know plenty of frummers who are sick to their stomachs that the AJN is now complicit in restoring Feldman’s “good name.”

    “Either way the lies, cover ups and sweeping under the carpet MUST stop once and for all. The school must offer and pay for counciling for the victims and steps must be taken to see that this never happens again.”

    On this, we most certainly agree! Here’s hoping.

  • R B says:

    Such cover-ups seems to be a character of any closed community, especially a community which considers itself morally and ideologically superior to others.

    In 1988, a Kibbutz in Israel tried to cover-up a horrible case of a 14yo girl, who was raped again and again by older boys from the same Kibbutz. However, her family insisted on reporting the police, and the case was revealed and shocked the Israelis, who at that time believed that such cases could never happen in a Kibbutz.

    And not surprisngly, Chabad, as another community which consider itself superior, did the same.

  • Steven says:

    Alex, if you speak to Joshua Levy you might get some insight into why they backed off.

    The AJN doesn’t need to go through a libel case so they can champion what others are too gutless to do. Maybe the Rabbis from the RCNSW don’t want to be sued either.

    If you feel so strongly you can write a letter to the AJN and good luck with the court case.

    While at it, ask a frum Rabbi in Melbourne if it’s ok to call police and then ask, if so, why didn’t you do that with the Leifer case.

    From FM:

    “By chance (or hashgacha pratit, depending on your view), Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, who works as a mikva construction and repair expert but who is better known as an activist working to stop child sexual abuse, was in Sydney early last week.

    On Monday, he was in a synagogue with Feldman, and he had a discussion with Feldman about reporting child sexual abuse to police.

    Feldman insisted that police should not be called and that calling police risked hurting innocent people.

    Rosenberg explained that police are trained to ferret out false accusations and that they’re experts in doing so – rabbis are not.

    Feldman then asserted calling police is mesira, informing, a severe prohibition in Jewish law.

    Rosenberg asked him why you call the police when someone robs your house or kills your wife? Maybe rabbis should handle these cases as well?

    Feldman said that the difference between those cases and child sexual abuse is retzicha, murder – meaning that false reports of child sexual abuse are like murder.

    Rosenberg explained to Feldman that he could only make that claim if he didn’t understand the damage sexual abuse does to children, the lives it destroys or permanently scars. (And also that the number of false reports of child sexual abuse outside of divorce cases is miniscule, 3% or less, and that even in divorce cases the number of false accusations is lower than the number of real cases of child sexual abuse.)

    Feldman refused to back down from his position and told Rosenberg that what he was doing – giving speeches in Sydney telling people to call police when child sexual abuse is known or suspected – is wrong, and that he should stop doing it immediately.

    Feldman “didn’t change his mind. He told me again and again and again that I was wrong with my policies, and with giving speeches” in Sydney about reporting child sexual abuse to police, Rosenberg told me.

    This was NOT a theoretical discussion of Jewish law.

    It was Feldman telling Rosenberg to shut up, and Feldman saying loudly and clearly that the halakha, Jewish law, was that cases of child sexual abuse MUST be reported to rabbis, not police.

    So much for Feldman’s claims of being taken out of context by the media.”

  • Enough Mud says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Without adding much to the discussion, can I ask that there be a little less (preferably no) baseless and/or generalising mudslinging as has been a common theme in a lot of these posts.

    To suggest that all people of a certain group, or that even the leadership therein, are identical in both their thoughts and actions is quite frankly dishonest at the very least. I’m not suggesting at all that everyone involved has or hasn’t dealt with these issues in the most appropriate way, but to extrapolate those actions to entire groups and/or communities only serves to create baseless, incorrect and defaming stereotypes.

    “There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud”

    Let us, as a community, work towards eradicating child abuse (of any nature) and soar like eagles rather than simply splashing around in the mud like hippopotami.

    Thank you.

  • WasThere says:

    Hi Alex,
    I do agree with you on many points.
    The AJN is gutless. They should fight this out but at the end of the day they are a business and the reason they don’t fight is likely money.
    I am disgusted that they make any attempt to repair Feldmans name.
    But the truth is out there and the community is not so easy fooled so I doubt anything the paper prints now will help to restore his name.
    Feldman is wrong but I don’t entirely blame him for his views since I along with all others who were in Sydney back in the day know full well that he learned these views from his father.

    I guess we have to agree to disagree on Chabad. Yes I’m aware of the rifts following the Rebbes passing. And of course I’m aware of the many shomer shabat groups that exist in Melbourne.

    As I see it those who are the good Chabad families are either too few or they were too scared to speak up whilst Groner was around.
    Either way I’m glad to hear that some have the courage to do what is right.
    The problem is that for every good Chabad family you speak of there are just as many if not more who saw fit to either remain shtoom or hinder the police investigation.

    Indeed as you say some of the institutions are rotten to the core.
    Yeshivah being a great example. IMO.
    You wrote,
    “I’ve written here previously that I consider the facilitators of the abuse as – if not more – guilty than the actual perpetrators.”
    You are spot on.

  • Alex,

    You’re indulging in some pretty lazy thinking yourself by lumping together Chabad/Adass in your condemnation (or even not lumping the two groups together and considering them separately).

    There has been no evidence provided of a conspiracy to cover-up or intimidate. You are relying on the words of a Detective at a bail hearing, not on any evidence. At a bail hearing, the prosecution’s aim is to have bail denied, not to have the case tried.

    It is not clear whether any cover-up occurred back when the abuse was first reported, or continued now. It is not clear whether any cover-up relates to the Cyprys case or to some other, possibly more current, cases. It is not clear whether any cover-up involved people who are still working for the school. We just don’t know. However, people are very quick to jump to conclusions and make generalizations about Orthodoxy in general or specific Orthodox groups.

    As Joe Friday would say, “All we know are the facts, ma’am”

  • WasThere says:

    It is not clear whether any cover-up occurred back when the abuse was first reported, or continued now. It is not clear whether any cover-up relates to the Cyprys case or to some other, possibly more current, cases. It is not clear whether any cover-up involved people who are still working for the school. We just don’t know.

    Come on David, I know for a fact you are smarter then this.

    The cover up occurred back then and continued to this day. It relates to Cyprys and to other cases. And yes it does involve people that were there then and are still there.

  • Malki Rose says:

    If there was a cover up, this will certainly be made clear by the impending legal process.

    As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, those who in any way enabled or continue to enable predators, through either action, financial aid, or through neglectful inaction should be well and truly sh*tting themselves.

    Continuosly trying to keep ones nose clean by persistently wiping it and then returning it to the same place is not a smart way to keep it clean.

    I’d recommend speaking up. Releasing public statements that feign ‘support’ are not ‘speaking up’. It is a politicking gesture of the most shallow order which has no place in a situation as grave as this

    No point saying “we didn’t realise”, because there is just too much of a paper trail to the contrary.

    Alex,
    remember there are 14 people being investigated from across the jewish community, many of them are not from the orthodox community, many of the victims have nothing to do with Yeshiva, some are Yavneh, Scopus, King David and Bialik students. So for about the 5th time… this is NOT only an orthodox issue.

    Just as the media and the wider world should not be lumping all the “jewish community” together in blaming all of us for a complex cover up, it is equally unhelpful to distance oneself from this and say this is a Chabad/Adass/Beth Hatalmud problem.

    The entire community needs to act collectively to fix this, and to create structures which protect all kids. Mandatory reporting is just not enough. All hands on deck are needed.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Hi Steven.

    “Alex, if you speak to Joshua Levy you might get some insight into why they backed off.”

    Do you really think he’d tell me? That would surely put him in even more legal hot water. I – and many others would love to know exactly
    what happened, but I just don’t think it’s possible.

    Backing off is one thing. The full blown apologia was another entirely.

    “The AJN doesn’t need to go through a libel case so they can champion what others are too gutless to do. Maybe the Rabbis from the RCNSW don’t want to be sued either.”

    Sure. I do understand. But that’s why I wrote about getting the initial expose properly legalled. In the end, I do think they did more damage than if they’d done straight reportage without the hyperbole.

    “If you feel so strongly you can write a letter to the AJN and good luck with the court case.”

    Oh come on! There are more effective ways, surely :)

    “While at it, ask a frum Rabbi in Melbourne if it’s ok to call police and then ask, if so, why didn’t you do that with the Leifer case.”

    I know! It’s beyond belief and it’s just repulsive. People are asking those questions both in and outside the community, thank God. I just hope we get some decent answers, eventually, not to mention justice.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Hi David.

    “You’re indulging in some pretty lazy thinking yourself by lumping together Chabad/Adass in your condemnation (or even not lumping the two groups together and considering them separately).”

    There are enough similarities – particularly the issue of Mesira – that more than justify the comparison.

    “There has been no evidence provided of a conspiracy to cover-up or intimidate. You are relying on the words of a Detective at a bail hearing, not on any evidence. At a bail hearing, the prosecution’s aim is to have bail denied, not to have the case tried.”

    We are all – you included – going on best information available.

    Should I have erred in anything I’ve written, I will definitely acknowledge it.

    “It is not clear whether any cover-up occurred back when the abuse was first reported, or continued now. It is not clear whether any cover-up relates to the Cyprys case or to some other, possibly more current, cases. It is not clear whether any cover-up involved people who are still working for the school. We just don’t know. However, people are very quick to jump to conclusions and make generalizations about Orthodoxy in general or specific Orthodox groups.”

    Again – you included – best information available.

    And we do know that Rabbi Groner was aware of Kramer’s actions and did not go to the police. Kramer then raping a child in the US is a direct consequence.

    “As Joe Friday would say, “All we know are the facts, ma’am””

    Indeed!

  • Alex Fein says:

    Hi Malki.

    Declarations of Mesirah and death threats are not, to my knowledge, characteristic of the non-Orthodox cases.

    These elements alone – and there are many other characteristics unique to the ultra-orthodox – separate the Orthodox experience.

    If one insists on conflating all abuse cases, one fails to identify these unique characteristics.

    This is not helpful in trying to effect cultural change.

    You say,”The entire community needs to act collectively to fix this.”

    Why is “collectively” a given?

    When elements of the community – both religious and secular – hold each other in profound contempt – how is it even possible?

    Can you see Reform and Charedi Jews working together?

    “and to create structures which protect all kids….All hands on deck are needed.”

    This might be a failure of imagination on my part, but what does this mean?

    What *specifically* would it entail?

  • Malki Rose says:

    Well for starters it would involve those who are aware of the King David and Scopus kids who’ve been molested speaking up.
    Most of them have nothing to do with Yeshiva.

    As for effecting cultural change, I agree which is why I’ve already stated quite plainly that the Chabad world has to confront this issue in the unique way in which it pertains to them. They have an overhaul of their systems which is way overdue. (And I mentioned starting by looking at their hiring policies AND knocking down the current, cesspool of a men’s mikveh.)

    There are two separate issues that are getting blurred into one here.

    One is the unique style of orthodox mismanagement of the issue (not so unique when you consider how similar all types of orthodox leadership mismanagements, not just in the Jewish world, but also in other religious groups).

    The other is a broader problem affecting the entire Jewish Community as I mentioned and involves not just orthodox but also many non religious victims and predators.
    There is still a very strong denial in the Jewish world that these things go on in OUR community. And when the Adass incident was exposed, the secular Jewish world was very quick to jump on the “Oh its terrible what goes on in the orthodox community” bandwagon. This sickens me.

    General Jewish leadership (ECAJ, JCCV, et al), all the schools and all of us as a community must create strategies to support these individuals in REAL ways.

  • Reality Check says:

    What is paramount here is the protection of our children. Regarding the alleged crimes, all that will be presented to the court in the fullness of time and until then it is crazy to speculate on anything. The only facts are that this fellow has been charged with a number of offenses and prominant members of the Jewish community have been accused of lying to the police and cover ups.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Yes Reality Check
    except that we know a heck of a lot more facts than just “a fellow has been charged”.
    Many people have in their little brains facts about predators that they have not shared with the authorities, and they must.
    Someone commented on another blog something to the effect that he/she didn’t believe that were Rabbi Groner z”l to be around today he would have acted differently because thus far Rabbis and leaders who DO know and who work under Yeshiva/Chabad or are affiliated with either institution are STILL failing to act. The blogger (named ‘Aussie’) listed several institutions in Melbourne and Sydney that are sitting on their hands and their information and knowingly protecting child molestors.

    This article is about what remains to be done to ensure no child is harmed in future and that current victims are helped now.

    Now is not the time to sit and wait to see what happens with the fullness of time.
    It’s taken 20 years to get to this point and to take another 20 would be a travesty.

  • Reality Check says:

    What say, then Malki, knowing of these terrible things that this guy has been charged with and all the other allegations, what we need to do is remain vigilant and ensure our children are safe. The facts on this current case will still be revealed in the fullness of time. I am not suggesting that we allow 20 years to go by. Those 20 years went by because of the cover-ups. And in my view there are absolutely no accusses for cover-ups or lies for such serious and dispicable crimes.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Yes Reatlity Check,
    but not just vigilant. Granted that is needed to prevent future incidents, to be sure.
    We need to be active, THAT is how we “ensure our children as safe” as you say.

    Changing structures which enable sexual abuse and paedophilia, like the men’s mikveh or scrutinising non-official, non-recognised ‘learning circles’ or ‘youth groups’ where there is nobody to report to, or the person one reports to does not do proper background checks or have proper hiring guidelines in place.

    Victims and their families needs assistance now. Not next week. Now.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Hi Malki.

    “Well for starters it would involve those who are aware of the King David and Scopus kids who’ve been molested speaking up.”

    Absolutely. I don’t think anyone is suggesting otherwise.

    When people focus on the peculiarities of the Orthodox community, as opposed to the non-Orthodox it’s because there are added layers – such as:

    1)Mesirah and
    2)death threats.

    These factors just don’t exist elsewhere in the community.

    My contention is – and has always been – that to conflate all abuse simply because we all call ourselves Jews, may not be helpful.

    Like I said earlier, can you imagine Reform and Chareidi sitting together to nut this all out?

    What works for Reform will not work with Chareidi. Simply calling us a unified community will not make it so.

    “Most of them have nothing to do with Yeshiva.”

    Is this information freely available? Where can we find it?

    Regardless, numbers are irrelevant. The question is one of culture.

    It’s horrendous and traumatic for any victim to come forward, but some environments add layers of horror and the ultra-Orthodox most certainly add those layers.

    To deny this makes no sense.

    “There are two separate issues that are getting blurred into one here.”

    No. They’re not. My last comment was specifically about *separating* that conflation.

    “There is still a very strong denial in the Jewish world that these things go on in OUR community.”

    There’s denial in every community. The question is, what are the unique characteristics regarding the abuse environments of each group?

    It doesn’t matter how much we might like a united communal response to these crimes and their perpetrators/facilitators.

    The reality and the most effective response is more important than what we would like.

    Our ideology can not come at the expense of protecting children.

    “General Jewish leadership (ECAJ, JCCV, et al), all the schools and all of us as a community must create strategies to support these individuals in REAL ways.”

    Sure, but what *specifically* are those “real ways?”

    What are the ways that counter the huge cultural differences and acrimony?

    And – most importantly – why would we expend valuable energy and waste time attempting a unified communal response?

    The *only* important thing here is stamping out abuse as quickly as possible.

    Anyway, I’ve said my piece and there’s no point repeating the arguments.

    The 3 questions I hope you’ll answer are:

    1) Where can we access the information regarding numbers and places of abuse?

    2) What *practical and specific* value does a community-wide response provide?

    3) How *exactly* will that manifest itself?

  • Reality Check says:

    Malki, to be sure. I am with you on this one.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I didn’t say it needs to be unified. you’re right, that’s silly if not impossible.
    Collective. It means everyone has some responsibility in this.

    I also didn’t say that I am lumping orthodox in with everyone else. I already agreed and even asserted that there is a very serious added layer/horror/issue that is indeed unique to the orthodox’s mismanagement of this issue.

    I feel that I’ve also said my piece and have already addressed at least points 2 and 3. And am getting pretty frustrated so am going to stop there.

    1 is obviously that the information is not yet freely available until either media get a hold via a leak (which doesn’t guarantee accuracy) or the information is released by the courts and Victoria Police, clearly that will not happen until legal process is well and truly underway.
    I could of course give you numbers and places of abuse, but it would be hearsay.
    I think there is little you personally could do with those numbers and places, (places I suppose you could warn against or help call for their restructuring/dismantling), the main issue would be that the proper authorities have details of those numbers and places and then advise victims and their families accordingly.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Malki, to set the record straight:

    I *do not* want the names or numbers of any abused person.

    That would be utterly inappropriate.

    In my opinion, these cases are *strictly* a matter for the police and for the immediate support networks of the abused.

    I asked because I am curious as to how you accessed to this information.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Because I know many of the victims and several of the accused predators.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Malki, that’s fair enough.

    You could have said so quite easily without implying my question was a request for breach of confidence.

  • Malki Rose says:

    You said “where can we access the information?”

    I don’t think I am the only one who read it like that.

  • Alex Fein says:

    It was a rhetorical question, Malki.

    Let’s leave it at that.

  • RC – nice to see we agree on something. The number one priority is protecting our children. Let’s remember that.

    The best way to protect our children is to encourage reporting of abuse, and education for both parents and children, and to maintain a good liaison with law enforcement to ensure cases are dealt with in a culturally sensitive way.

    People from outside the Chabad or Adass communities speculating and carrying on about how they perceive the way those communities deal with these issues (or how people long deceased dealt with them 20 years ago or might deal with them if they were alive) is really not going to achieve very much. Drawing generalisations and turning it into a global problem with Orthodoxy is also misguided and goes nowhere.

    Any change can only come from within, and certainly won’t change overnight. Attitudes certainly have changed from 20 years ago when the currently discussed case of abuse happened. Most anyone from within the community will acknowledge that more work is required.

  • elmo says:

    As a child protection worker, I can tell you that there are leaders/parents/children in the general population that frequently cover up child abuse.
    I am in no way condoning this. But this constant bashing of the jewish community is ridiculous and quite frankly the constant bashing of the orthodox community (chabad/addass in particular) by other members of the jewish community just makes me ill! We should all just give it a rest stop being so bloody petty, playing the blame game and just work towards a better and safer future for our children.

    And ‘Was there’ Please do not refer to Rabbi Groner as ‘Groner’ it is so disrespectful

  • WasThere says:

    And ‘Was there’ Please do not refer to Rabbi Groner as ‘Groner’ it is so disrespectful

    Respect is earned and comes to those who deserve and are worthy of it.
    Groner is not worthy or deserving in my opinion.

  • Reality Check says:

    David W. The change has to come overnight. Child abuse should have nothing to do with our or anyone elses culture.

  • TheSadducee says:

    I just want to take up one issue with Malki – re. the men’s mikveh.

    I don’t think it is reasonable to suggest that the design (Roman bathing) is a “proven breeding ground for innappropriate behaviour…”.

    Rather it is the individuals who attend the facility and indulge their abhorrent/malformed sexual inclinations.

    This is a problem with people, not places.

    Any place with a modicum of privacy could provide an opportunity – should we look at removing public toilet blocks as well?

    The community also should be working on education programs to help people with these inclinations/behaviours come forward to get help (psychological/medical) and prevent themselves from doing anything in the first place – i.e. a proactive approach rather than a reactive one.

  • Malki Rose says:

    TheSadducee,

    Of course you are right that its never places, alcohol or guns that harm people… its people who harm people. But this does not mean that structures should not be in place to prevent abuse of these places, of alcohol and of guns?

    Would you agree with that?

    Of course the same argument applies with public toilet blocks!!!
    Local shires had similar discussions about Toilets as well where there had been multiple incidents of sexual abuse or them being a breeding ground for drug use.

    Many public toilets are now lit differently, lit better, locked after dark, have CCTV mounted at the entrances and some have been removed altogether and replaced with single person electronic toilets to enable private use.

    The Mikveh is no different.
    Of course most just want to use the Mikveh in the normal way, but unfortunately it is a proven breeding ground for misbehaviour, as many of the victims will tell you themselves.

    I have not called for the abolition of the mikveh, I have suggested that a restructuring would be a good thing (and is perfectly proactive!). And why should the men not make use of the mikveh in privacy like the women do? Why would anyone be adverse to that TheSadducee?

    As a separate issue and it most certainly is an important one, I very much agree with you that programs need to be created to help get child molesters psychological help. It is a serious problem which currently lacks in psychological remedies, although there are plenty of legal ones.
    It is something which may even be discussed at tonight’s gathering.
    Unfortunately though most will have a very ‘not my problem, not my priority’ approach to helping sexual predators.
    a) because the priority is the children and
    b) until one has a family member who is a predator its hard to swallow the notion of wanting to help them at all.

  • Malki,

    I’m with Sadducee on this. Predators will always look for a place to find victims – whether it’s a mikveh, a toilet block, the sports change rooms, or anywhere. Shutting down those options with nanny state-like rules isn’t going to stop them. We just have to be vigilant, educate our kids, and promote a culture of reporting.

    What you suggest is completely impractical as well. I doubt if you have first hand experience of attending the mikveh on busy days like Erev Shabbos or Yom Tov when hundreds of men are there in the space of a few hours.

    This is a bit like the bathhouses in SF in the 80s: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12962179 there was huge debate about those policies – do you think they helped at all? Did they deal with the symptoms or the root cause?

  • Malki Rose says:

    Great so we can decide to either make these places (mikvehs, toilets, greenmeadows park) as safe as possible by altering them in some way (and pretending that they don’t need to be altered is pretty naive/irresponsible) so they are not attractive to predators.. or we can keep going along our merry way and use jargon like “remain vigilant” in a theoretical way without any action at all.

    I have heard from many people how busy it is, and can only imagine the large volume of men coming and going especially Erev Yom Tov. But that is not an excuse for failure to make it a safer place for young boys.

    I do not pretend to understand what drives large groups of heterosexual men to be ok with bathing naked with each other in filthy water, nor how it is that male culture is generally comfortable with urinating together publicly, something which female culture would view as a gross violation of their privacy and modesty.

    To my mind men doing these things together seems like the very antithesis of what Tzniut (modesty) is all about.

    Perhaps I am just a prude, but I believe that a persons private body is exactly that and is not to be displayed to the world.

    The men’s mikveh is NOT currently a safe place and on that basis it simply has to change.
    It seems illogical to believe that a place that is currently UNSAFE should not be made safer. (especially in light of the instances of inappropriate conduct which have occurred there, and I assure you the parents of the abused want this changed as well.)

    But you are obviously entitled to your opinion.

  • Malki Rose says:

    p.s. you need to deal with symptoms AND the root cause!
    Fall out must be managed and the incidents must be prevented from happening again.

  • suggestion says:

    i think a good recommendation for improved safety would be requiring any child under the age of 13 to be accompanied by a parent?

  • suggestion says:

    of a male mikvah that is

  • Malki Rose says:

    suggestion,
    while its a good suggestion, I have been informed that apparently children 12 and under don’t use the mikveh in any case, so this point could be moot.

    Two of the boys that I know of who were molested were 13 in any case and another was 14.

  • Esther says:

    There are a number of mikvehs overseas who have guards employed inside the Mikveh.

  • Marky says:

    Malki writes “Mikveh’s …rebuilt in the style of..women’s mikve’s”

    Generally most men work until an hour or 2 before Shabbos or Yom tov. With most coming to Mikveh in that short span of time. So for this idea to work, you would need enormous mikves, with countless baths and showers. It would be unnafordable. As it is, in many places overseas, you need to wait your turn, even with the current system.

  • Levi says:

    That mikvah is beyond gross and what people do in there (and no I’m not referring to sexual deviants) is disgusting. On a typical day you’ll find some middle aged obese bloke sitting there for over an hour and itching his foot fungus – where he allowed it to get to such a point that even a specialist cant help him. To give the place some credit – I’ve been to worse places in America. absolutely gross and a hilul Hashem.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Esther,
    At tonight’s meeting afew others brought up this idea of a person on ‘shmirah’ (guard) at the mikveh. As you mention it seems to be quite effective.
    I was told that there job is primarily to ensure that that people are moved through quickly and that people get only 5 minutes in the mikveh and are then asked to leave.

    Perhaps just having a constant ‘guard’ at he mikveh would vastly improve the safety and help remove potential for inappropriate conduct.

  • Levi says:

    Just to rant a little further – consideiring that some of the wealthiest families in the entire nation are very much much involved with the yeshiva centre and it’s school and have children who attend, I’m very surprised to see how run down and disgusting that place with it’s mikvah is. Even more so knowing that the school was once in a very bad financial situation and probably still is. I agree with Malki – at the very least tear down that mikvah and build something newer and safer.

  • Malki Rose says:

    It’s true Levi,
    Saying that its just “impractical” to restructure the mikveh in ANY way, is just laziness.
    Morally and financially.

    I also think there needs to be better structures in place with small shtiebels, chabad houses, mini-shuls and youth programs. At the moment anyone can work for them and there is no accountability or answerability to any authority. No requirement for working-with-children or police checks.

    They become another breeding ground for inappropriate conduct.

    If someone is going to learn one-on-one with young people, the employers need to be sure that their employees are fit to do so.

    If not, then the employers need to be able to answer to parents of victims how they allowed things to occur and failed in their duty of care.

  • Marky says:

    Quite a few chabadnik’s use the adass men’s mikva, which is spacious and relatively “state of the art”. Ironically it was financed by Lubavitchers.

  • anon guy says:

    David

    Could you expand on what you mean by “culturally sensitive way”. Seems like you’re more into looking after reputations than kids.

    I had a higher opinion of you.

  • Sam says:

    Malki

    You said:

    “I do not pretend to understand what drives large groups of heterosexual men to be ok with bathing naked with each other in filthy water”

    It may not be the main issue however it could possibly be very important, as I don’t have knowledge where the sexual abuses have occurred.
    As a man I must say I agree with your statement above 100%. What do other guys think?

  • WasThere says:

    I also think there needs to be better structures in place with small shtiebels, chabad houses, mini-shuls and youth programs. At the moment anyone can work for them and there is no accountability or answerability to any authority. No requirement for working-with-children or police checks.

    These checks are obviously a good thing but they only help to a point.
    A person can be cleared to work even if they a monster just because there is nothing pop up on the police check.
    In other words these checks are by no means fool proof.

    The only real solution IMO is education. We must educate the kids. Just like we educate them to never get in a strangers car to help that person find their dog. Teaching our kids to speak up and to run away from a bad situation is our best form of defence against these monsters.

  • der ruv says:

    Interesting article, asks the correct questions:
    http://www.brucellama.com/?p=2252

    Also see total backdown on http://fifthchelek.wordpress.com/contact-us/
    FC used to be reasonable, now hopped into bed with liars.

  • ANON says:

    i remember going to the Yeshiva mikve 20 years ago and seeing some “SEMEN” floating on top of the water!

    i thought, No that’s impossible, it cant be! It must be something else!

    Now 20 years later, i hear that some of the child abuse actually happened in the mikve!

    So, i am now a living witness! but obviously i cant remember actual dates and times!

  • ANON says:

    Its a joke that ELMO and WAS THERE are discussing whether or not its disrespectful calling Groner a “Rabbi”. HE CAUSED THE ABUSE BY SWEEPING IT UNDER THE CARPET !!!

    I dont know if he ever got Smicha, its easy to “pusken” when u hang around 770 for a while! Its known he refered all “difficult” questions to “Headquarters” in NY anyways! Well those of us who knew him, he was an arrogant dominating bully! He was like a cult leader, crushing any dissent or opposition! No, i not being disrespectful – his own children openly disagreed with his bully style approach!

    Groner would lick your bum if u were rich or American or both! He hated Australians who were neither! So why was he here! because the Rebbe sent him! Actually, the Rebbe kicked him out of New York because he was a trouble maker! Wow, the Rebbe is so smart, he made Groner think he was getting a promotion!

  • esther says:

    anon’s latest post is defammatory. it should be deleted by galus australis

  • anon guy,

    I was talking about the way the police and the community work together in dealing with cases like this. We are a close-knit community, and it’s clear from the reaction in online media and the blogosphere how damaging cases like this can be. Cyprys was named in the print media (not in Victoria) even before he was interviewed by police. It took several weeks since then for him to ultimately be charged. Suspected offenders have been named in blogs, and it’s all too easy for innocent people to be hurt. I’ve already written about this on these pages http://galusaustralis.com/2011/07/4867/gossip-danger/. The police need a good understanding of the dynamics of the Jewish community, and vice versa. Partly as a result of this case, those bridges are being built.

    I’d like to think we can protect both our children and the reputations of innocent people within our community, and not have to trade one against the other. However, it is a challenge.

  • anon says:

    Is it true that Cyprys hasn’t (re)offended for over 20 years?

    If so, doesn’t this show that he has been ‘cured’?

    And if so, would jailing him help anyone?

    Just wondering

  • Malki Rose says:

    What bridges are being built ? By whom?

  • WasThere says:

    Well those of us who knew him, he was an arrogant dominating bully! He was like a cult leader, crushing any dissent or opposition! No, i not being disrespectful – his own children openly disagreed with his bully style approach!

    Well said..Indeed Groner was an arrogant dominating bully.

  • WasThere says:

    The police need a good understanding of the dynamics of the Jewish community,

    They have that already. They know all about the power of those with the surname of Gutnick and Feldman. They know all about Groner. All about the Rebbe.
    The police spent a lot of time learning all about how a shuel works..A mikvah and the community in general.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the police are ignorent or stupid. They know more then you think.
    They even know who posted all them lies on the 5th chelek….))

  • WasThere says:

    Is it true that Cyprys hasn’t (re)offended for over 20 years?

    Whatever gave you the idea that he didn’t more victims?

    Just to be clear..
    Cyprys was charged with 29 offences which occured from 1986-91…(Rough dates without looking it up).
    This in no way means or indicates that there were not more offences committed after 1991.
    There is little doubt that there will be more charges. And often with pedophiles especially in Victoria these “”more charges” don’t happen till they are found guilty of the first lot and are in prison.

  • Marky says:

    ANON writes “so now I am a living witness”

    You are a witness to nothing! What you have claimed to see in the Mikva has nothing necessarily to do with paedophilia!

  • Marky says:

    And it may well have been “something else”

  • marky's brother says:

    And it may well have been a blatant lie.

  • Victoria b says:

    I have been reliably informed that Cyprys was given treatment and ‘cured’ many years ago.
    There have been no allegations of abuse for 20 years

    Is there anyone here who can contradict this?

  • Malki Rose says:

    I would like to redirect the discussion back to the focus of the article.

    There is a grassroots movements taking place in our community to protect children in the here and now against abuse.

    We need to ask ourselves what is being done at present to learn from the past?

    At thursday evenings meeting several important points were made and have been expounded upon in follow up discussions since.

    1. Education – Educating children is of primary importance, and the program initiated by the JTAFV needs to be applied in more schools, especially Yeshiva. Parents expressed concern as to why the program was not being offerred to their boys in Yeshiva.
    education must also be offered to parents. Many do not realise that paedophilia is not something which can be cured. Research demonstrates that those who are not supervised or managed will inevitably re-offend. Just because someone appears to not be re-offending, does not make it so. They have probably just become better at it with experience.

    2. Responsibility – It is also important not to become complacent and decide that with a program now provided to the kids, our work here is done. Doing that is tantamount to deciding that it is the child’s responsibility to fight against abuse, and it is not. That responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the adults.

    Responsibility extends to anyone who has any knowledge or awareness of the abuse. Some have the responsibility of Mandatory reporting, while others have the responsibility of Duty of Care. Yeshiva’s obligation is not just to answer questions to police when asked (i.e. “co-operating”) but to also volunteer information that they are in position of.
    One parent commented to me that they received Yeshiva’s letter where they are “reassuring parents” that Yeshiva are committed to providing a “safe” school environment and they wondered if that were the case, when her sons class would be offerred the JTAFV program like his Beth Rivka counterparts.

    3. Counselling and Support.
    – People will not come forward when they are scared or unsupported. It took 20 years for things to start to change because this is the most usual modus operandi of victims or witnesses. That they just don’t come forward until they are adults.
    If we want children to speak up then we need them to be supported and believed. Not doubted and castigated.
    The support structures in our community need to be improved. There needs to be at the very least a telephone helpline with psychological counselling at the other end. Until there is kids are encouraged to call the ‘Kids Helpline’ 1800 55 1800.
    Alternatively another fantastic service is the SECASA (south eastern centre against sexual assault) 1800 806 292.
    I hope that parents and schools will see fit to place this number everywhere.

    4. Structural Prevention
    – These are about minimising the opportunity for predatory behaviour and include things like creating better lighting around public toilets, changing the layout of the mikveh, having strict policies in place relating to working with children (not just a police check).
    Having someone on Shmirah (guard) at the Mikveh was thought to be an inexpensive and already proven method of keeping things functional and safe. The guard ensures the no person remains in the mikveh beyond 5 minutes and is also employed to ensure that safety remains a top priority. Life guards are employed in much the same capacity at public pools.
    There are many smaller minyanim, learning groups and congregations around Melbourne which run their own youth programs for both shabbat and festivals, bar mitzva, learning, school holidays, education and within the community. All these smaller congregations should also be required have the same policies in place as larger ones.

    5. Culpability
    – Anyone, individual or organisation, that enables, whether actively or passively, abuse to be committed against a child in any way, needs to be answerable to the law.

    It was agreed that there are mulitple fronts upon which this war against child abuse must be fought and all those who would like to help or contribute are encouraged to get in touch at
    keepkinderlachsafe@gmail.com

  • WasThere says:

    I have been reliably informed that Cyprys was given treatment and ‘cured’ many years ago.
    There have been no allegations of abuse for 20 years

    Is there anyone here who can contradict this?

    It is widely accepted among doctors that peophiles can not be cured.
    Their urges to offend can be reduced through medication and other mean. But it does not change their sexual attraction.

    No allegations of abuse for 20 years??….
    That’s a joke…Right??….

  • Malki Rose says:

    I would like to redirect the discussion back to the focus of the article.

    There is a grassroots movements taking place in our community to protect children in the here and now against abuse.

    We need to ask ourselves what is being done at present to learn from the past?

    At thursday evenings meeting several important points were made and have been expounded upon in follow up discussions since.

    1. Education – Educating children is of primary importance, and the program initiated by the JTAFV needs to be applied in more schools, especially Yeshiva. Parents expressed concern as to why the program was not being offerred to their boys in Yeshiva.
    education must also be offered to parents. Many do not realise that paedophilia is not something which can be cured. Research demonstrates that those who are not supervised or managed will inevitably re-offend. Just because someone appears to not be re-offending, does not make it so. They have probably just become better at it with experience.

    2. Responsibility – It is also important not to become complacent and decide that with a program now provided to the kids, our work here is done. Doing that is tantamount to deciding that it is the child’s responsibility to fight against abuse, and it is not. That responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the adults.

    Responsibility extends to anyone who has any knowledge or awareness of the abuse. Some have the responsibility of Mandatory reporting, while others have the responsibility of Duty of Care. Yeshiva’s obligation is not just to answer questions to police when asked (i.e. “co-operating”) but to also volunteer information that they are in position of.
    One parent commented to me that they received Yeshiva’s letter where they are “reassuring parents” that Yeshiva are committed to providing a “safe” school environment and they wondered if that were the case, when her sons class would be offerred the JTAFV program like his Beth Rivka counterparts.

    3. Counselling and Support.
    – People will not come forward when they are scared or unsupported. It took 20 years for things to start to change because this is the most usual modus operandi of victims or witnesses. That they just don’t come forward until they are adults.
    If we want children to speak up then we need them to be supported and believed. Not doubted and castigated.
    The support structures in our community need to be improved. There needs to be at the very least a telephone helpline with psychological counselling at the other end. Until there is kids are encouraged to call the ‘Kids Helpline’ 1800 55 1800.
    Alternatively another fantastic service is the SECASA (south eastern centre against sexual assault) 1800 806 292.
    I hope that parents and schools will see fit to place this number everywhere.

    4. Structural Prevention
    – These are about minimising the opportunity for predatory behaviour and include things like creating better lighting around public toilets, changing the layout of the mikveh, having strict policies in place relating to working with children (not just a police check).
    Having someone on Shmirah (guard) at the Mikveh was thought to be an inexpensive and already proven method of keeping things functional and safe. The guard ensures the no person remains in the mikveh beyond 5 minutes and is also employed to ensure that safety remains a top priority. Life guards are employed in much the same capacity at public pools.
    There are many smaller minyanim, learning groups and congregations around Melbourne which run their own youth programs for both shabbat and festivals, bar mitzva, learning, school holidays, education and within the community. All these smaller congregations should also be required have the same policies in place as larger ones.

    5. Culpability
    – Anyone, individual or organisation, that enables, whether actively or passively, abuse to be committed against a child in any way, needs to be answerable to the law.

    It was agreed that there are mulitple fronts upon which this war against child abuse must be fought and all those who would like to help or contribute are encouraged to get in touch at
    keepkinderlachsafe@gmail.com

  • Victoria,

    Whether he was cured or not (and whether a ‘cure’ for paedophilia is even possible) is not particularly relevant here. If he committed crimes – even 20 years ago, and even if he hasn’t committed them for the last 20 years – the law finds him accountable for them.

  • Levi says:

    In regards to calls for employing a guard @ the Mikvah – the person in question who currently has these allegations directed @ him was employed as a security guard at school.

    Anyone else notice the irony?

  • Joe in Australia says:

    Malki, I understood that the alleged events are said to have happened at school camps and so forth. Why all the concern about the Mikvah? I suppose it’s possible that people would resort to it at times when it’s usually empty, but I can hardly imagine anything going on there on a Friday afternoon.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Joe,
    I am not sure of the “alleged events”, so am not in a position to comment on those.
    I can only speak of the events I have been told about by victims personally. The occurrences are significant and frequent enough to warrant a solution.
    I am told that some of these instances have been when the mikveh is quite busy.

  • Sam says:

    Levi

    It is quite ironic, (Security connotes feeling safe,) however you might ask what investigation was done by his employer into his suitability, past employment history, and police checks. Even with all this, occasionally a person can slip through the cracks, if he has not offended before, or if he has not been reported. It is not really possible to have a someone guarding the guard.

  • der ruv says:

    Sam, given the topic, “a person can slip through the cracks” is probably an unfortunate choice of words.

    More seriously, you ask “what investigation was done by his employer into his suitability”? Well, they arranged his legal defence to the charge he pleaded guilty to, so I figure they had a pretty good idea what he was.

  • WasThere says:

    More seriously, you ask “what investigation was done by his employer into his suitability”? Well, they arranged his legal defence to the charge he pleaded guilty to, so I figure they had a pretty good idea what he was.

    Even if they didn’t arrange his legal defence they still knew all about it. Well at least Groner for sure was well informed.
    The reality is that it simply didn’t matter to Groner or Yeshivah what a persons past was.
    Also worth remembering that police checks for working with children wasn’t around back then though Groner and yeshivah still had a duty of care.

  • victoria says:

    WasThere says:

    No allegations of abuse for 20 years??….
    That’s a joke…Right??….

    No. It’s a serious question

  • Marky says:

    Malki Rose writes “I have been told that some of these instances have been when the mikveh is quite busy”

    Whoever told you this needs to also explain how it is possible to do it in a mikvah with other people there, let alone when it’s busy, without being caught. Unless everyone else there was blind.

    I have heard of it happening when no one else is there(the desperadoes plan for when it’s quiet) but this sounds as if someone made it up.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Oh Marky,
    there are more ways for someone to be sexually molested that being bent over and sodomised in full view so that people such as your self are satisfied that it occurred.

    ‘sounds as if someone made it up’ ?
    Being the person that presumes victims are ‘full of it’ unless it sounds largely feasible, I hope your kids never have to come to you tell you it happened to them.

  • Levi says:

    any allegation that would indicate that the alleged crime took place when the mikvah was busy with hundres of people going through is a little far fetched. Anyone whose been to that mikvah on a busy day knows that.

    However, when you have 12 people coming forward with allegations against a certain indivdual, it’s pretty hard to claim that they are “making things up”…pretty unlikely that any of one of these allegations involve a busy mikvah.

    In any case, even if a hundred or a thousand come forward, the indivdual is assumed innocent until proven guily. It’s not only Halacha that binds us to this notion, but the law of the land. More importantly, we all need to be sensitive to the suspects family – they are victims also and don’t deserve to be singled out or treated any different. I’ve noticed that people (including well meaning people) in the community have and its very sad. I can’t even begin to imagine what its like to be in their shoes and just like actual victims of pedophilia it could have easily been us – we could have been the son, daughter, brother or nephew of the accussed…what a nightmare (G-d forbid).

  • Malki Rose says:

    Yes Levi,

    The pain that any suspects family would feel would conceivably be tantamount to having your heart ripped out and being thrown against a wall.
    A parent’s pain, a spouse’s pain and even a child’s pain at having someone they love be accused of being a sexual predator, whether guilty or innocent would still cause irreparable damage and heartache.

    I mentioned in the article that some people do see this as ‘unfortunate collateral damage’. Some might say that the damaged caused to their families would have been preventable had the predator not committed the acts in the first place, and not been foolish enough to think they would not get caught and that they have only themselves to blame for putting their families through this.

    Others feel that much of the pain and anguish is entirely avoidable, and caused by a combination of heavy handed, public Media character assassination and unhelpful Police processes.

    Currently there are young children related to the accused who are of course suffering terribly in horrific ways that would break any parents heart.

    When we go forward to solve these issues we need to ask ourselves who the victims are. I believe the primary victim is ALWAYS the victim, an innocent child, who did not ask to be a part of such things.

    But how are the rights of the children of the accused protected too?
    There is a very important moral question which simply must be asked.
    Can the rights of one innocent child be violated to protect the rights of another?

  • Malki Rose says:

    Here is a good link for an example of what one Jewish community is doing to actively tackle the issue of Child sexual abuse. http://www.crownheightswatch.com/

  • Levi says:

    “Some might say that the damaged caused to their families would have been preventable had the predator not committed the acts in the first place, and not been foolish enough to think they would not get caught and that they have only themselves to blame for putting their families through this.”

    Not arguing this point at all. Just asking for people to be more sensitive toward the suspect’s family since I get the overall impression from the community that this might not be the case.

    I would even go as far as to state that the suspect’s children are also primary victims. They didn’t ask for this either.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I agree.
    When a predator does harm, they harm more than just their direct victims.
    They make victims of every innocent person around them. Their parents, siblings and children. As you say, all innocent people who did not ask for this.

  • Marky says:

    Malki Rose writes”I hope your kids never have to come to you to tell you it happened to them”

    I bless you with the same good wishes…

    I have been a regular mikvah goer for many years and as at least 3 others here have said, such happenings in a busy mikva is far fetched. It is nothing like a packed bus or train, where for quite a while everyone is stationary in one place. The mikva is never packed like that. You can always see at least the people next to you. Unlike the train and bus, you need place to manouever, in additon to people being on the move the whole time.

    One who hasn’t been there at such a time wouldn’t understand.

  • Mordy says:

    @ WasThere
    So, you’ve re-invented yourself from Aussie and just as you messed up the thread on Fifth Chelek, it would appear you’re attempting your same shtik here. One blogger Real Victim asked you to “Piss off”. Your obsessive braggart Know-all attitude is a major turn off. Please leave commenting to Malki and other sensible bloggers rather than dredging up all the rubbish from other sites. FailedMesiah is a disgusting blog site, classless in fact. You’re not doing anyone or the subject matter on hand, any favors.

  • ANON says:

    Yes, we need a good security guard outside the Mikve! I can suggest a great company called SHOMER. They must be reliable because Yeshiva employed him for decades despite rumors and later convictions he remained loyal to the sexy little boys!

    Interesting to note, the SHOMER website has a list of services available —
    Security,
    Locksmith,
    Armed guards,
    “Close Personal BodyGuarding”
    ….. lol

  • Levi says:

    your comment is totally inappropriate

  • Bruce Cooke says:

    http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2011/09/exclusive-chabads-coverup-of-child-sex-abuse-678.html

    needs clarifying eg document dates contradict assertion he was not an employee.

  • Joe in Australia says:

    Bruce, it was reportedly the Victoria Police who said that he wasn’t a member of staff. But is this really an important issue one way or another? Employee, staff member, guy who hung around campus – the fact is that it shouldn’t have happened. I’m far more interested in finding out what they have done to change their procedures than playing “gotcha” about terminology.

  • Bruce Cooke says:

    Dear “Joe in Australia”
    I spoke to the Police about this matter as soon as it occured.Nothing to do with “gotcha”.The Police told me the sequence of events were as follows.
    The Yeshiva asked the Police if the person being investigated was Cyprys.The Police confirmed that they were.The Yeshiva informed the Police that Cyprys was not employed by the Yeshiva.That being the case the Yeshiva publically stated words to the effect that the person under investigation was not a YC employee.
    I expressed concern & some doubt about this to the Police.The Police advised me that if the YC statement was untrue or misleading the YC would have what to answer for in due course.Perhaps that is one of the reasons why Lisa Metcher made her damning remarks about the YC when Cyprys was charged.

  • Joe in Australia says:

    His services were obviously employed (in the sense that I employ the services of a guy with a lawnmower every few weeks) but was he actually an employee – a member of staff? I tend to think not, for two reasons. The first is that they said he wasn’t. The second is those screenshots of his security business license: my understanding is that under the Private Security Act 2004 part 1.4 if he were an employee he wouldn’t actually need a license. But surely the important questions are why kids were not safe in the past, and whether they’re safe now.

  • Bruce Cooke says:

    Dear Friends,

    Recently a community forum “Confronting Child Sexual Abuse” was held(see attachment).

    The speakers were professionals specialising in the field. The speakers included were:

    · Dr Danny Lamm – President of ECAJ;Chairperson

    · Sergeant Scott Wells Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT);

    · Dr Joe Tucci – CEO of Australia Childhood Foundation;

    · Cathie Cincotta – Team Leader, Child Protection Response, DHS; and

    · Mary Mass – South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault.

    The evening was a great success, with many positive outcomes.

    The information is universal, and gives a key insight into child sexual assault and why it often takes 20 years for information to surface, and how we as a community need to approach this tragedy.

    In order to ensure the community has access to this information, a visual and audio recording was made.

    The video can be accessed at:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/1234wecare#p/u/10/QroUKDuMLXI

    Audio only can be accessed via:

    http://jml.org.au/?page=player&audio=1146

    I would be appreciative if you could disseminate to your audience, and create a link from your website, to ensure the community is appropriately informed on this important and relevant topic.

    Thanking you in advance.

    Gamar Tov.

    Kind regards,

    Bruce J Cooke

  • Leo Braun says:

    “Programs need to be created to help get child-molesters psychological help. It is a serious problem which currently lacks in psychological remedies, although there are plenty of legal ones. It is something which may even be discussed“!

    • Apparently insatiable sociopaths who never gave-up drive to attain a greater seat of power while striving to reinstate slavery along the way, appear to be normal, and therefore not easily recognisable as deviant or disturbed. Although only a trained professional can make a diagnosis — clinical indicators associated with this personality type — depicted glibness or superficial charm; a grandiose sense of self; a lack of any remorse, shame or guilt; callousness or a lack of empathy; a failure to perceive that anything is wrong with them. Sociopaths are described as paranoid, authoritarian, secretive and manipulative, pathological liars!

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