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Government Inquiry into Child Abuse is Welcome and Overdue

April 17, 2012 – 6:31 pm15 Comments

By Manny Waks
As a former victim of sexual abuse within the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, I welcome the Baillieu Government’s decision to launch a wide-ranging inquiry into how religious organisations in Victoria have handled child abuse allegations.

While over the years, based on a range of reports, the Catholic Church has been the major public culprit in the way they have handled sexual abuse allegations, clearly they are not the only ones within the religious sphere. From my own experience and knowledge I can testify that there has been widespread sexual abuse against many children within the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Victoria, which was practically common knowledge to both community members and its leaders.

What has also become abundantly clear is that the mishandling of these cases of abuse by the ultra-Orthodox institutions has been negligent if not criminal. There have been numerous examples where victims and their families have been made to suffer, subsequent to the abuse, by these institutions and their leaders, especially when they have sought to seek justice. There are also a number of cases in which these religious institutions and their leaders irresponsibly removed paedophiles from their institution without ensuring justice for the victims and ignoring the safety of other children, who in some cases were later abused by the same perpetrator.

From my personal experience I hold the Yeshivah Centre directly responsible for the widespread sexual abuse that has gone on there over many years. They knew about it yet failed to act. Through their mixed messages, non-cooperation with the authorities and insensitivity I am deeply concerned that the Yeshivah Centre has not understood the gravity of the situation, nor how they should deal with these serious allegations. They are continuing the victimise the former victims and their families. They are being disingenuous when they claim to be doing all they can for the victims and the police—in fact it is an outright lie.

I am convinced that this wide-ranging inquiry—including the ability to compel witnesses to testify—would uncover more evidence of abuse and cover-ups.

For the sake of justice for past victims and for the future safety of our children, this proposed course of action is imperative—it is indeed long overdue. No institution should be above the law and it is about time these religious institutions are held to account. In our case, many of the former victims of the Yeshivah Centre plan to hold that institution and its leaders to full account in due course.

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15 Comments »

  • Steven says:

    Thanks go to Manny and the others willing to testify and the Moorabbin Sex Crimes Unit. The upcoming court cases will hopefully give some sort of closure for victims, and jail sentences and humiliation are the best way to stop molestations occurring in the future. Molestors will know that they will not be sent overseas as punishment if they get caught.

    Yeshivah maintains that 20 years ago no-one knew how to deal with this problem and people today seem to go along with that logic. Why? Had the person been a murderer should he have been deported and allowed to continue overseas?

    Mrs Leifer was not 20 years ago, yet the same result from (apparently) 3 Rabbonim just a couple of years ago.

  • letters in the age says:

    Thanks for your courage Manny and coming out in the media with this issue

    Hope it provides closure to many and people can try to move on

  • I strongly suggest that those with relevant information start compiling long lists of names of those with information (those that covered up/relocated/supported the pedophiles) and a summary of information that each would/may have. Don’t limit the lists to people in Australia. Include the enablers in Israel, the US etc. The whole chain of pedophile protectors need to be exposed.

    Submit the lists to the commission with some proof of transmission (fax confirmation, registered email receipt etc) or through lawyers.

    “sunlight is the best disinfectant”

  • Harry Joachim says:

    “Mrs Leifer was not 20 years ago, yet the same result from (apparently) 3 Rabbonim just a couple of years ago.”

    I hope they investigate this awful incident. Adass appears to have done recently what the Yeshiva School/Centre did 20 years ago. One hopes the attitudes of the rabbinic leadership at the Yeshiva have changed, but I hold little hope of any sea changes at Adass. Their highly insular approach to the world at large (not to mention their lack of interest in other segments of the Jewish community) does not bode well for instituting compulsory reporting of alleged abuse.

  • letters in the age says:

    There should be a royal commission into this matter where there is a forensic approach with legal minds involved

    How are these mps who are first timers going to handle the workload involved??

    They arent lawyers and i think its not respectful to the victims involved to be shortchanged with anything less

  • noah says:

    In the film, ‘Inglourious Basterds’ by Quentin Tarantino, the nazis had a swastika carved onto their foreheads so every one would know who and what they were.

    I would like to see the Hebrew letter ‘Pe’ carved onto these paedophile scum foreheads so we all know who they are, maybe even use a baseball bat to give then the IRA “six pack”.

  • david segal says:

    noah

    פרופ’ אהרן קירשנבאום – עונשי גוף שלאחר חתימת התלמוד

    http://www.netanya.ac.il/content/law/mozd/19.pdf

    page 734 near note 43 that in the kehilot of Prague and Krakow there was a takana to mark prostitues.

    assaf here:

    העונשין אחרי חתימת התלמוד

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=39156&st=%d7%9b%d7%95%d7%99%d7%99%d7%94&pgnum=111&hilite

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=39156&st=%d7%9b%d7%95%d7%99%d7%99%d7%94&pgnum=129&hilite

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Yes! Excellent work, Manny. Time to investigate the ridiculous abuses of power that go on in these cult-like atmospheres. If the organisation is innocent, then investigating them will do nothing to harm them. The ones who are guilty will be put to the sword for their mortifying, disgusting criminal actions.

    But shhh don’t tell David Werdiger about this, we wouldn’t want to upset his delicate sensibilities and his steadfast knowledge that CHABAD IS INFALLIBLE!!!11111111111111111

  • Daniel – even a cursory check of my public writing will show that I am quite capable of being critical of Chabad where appropriate. We are all fallible – it states this quite clearly in Kohelet 7:20 “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins”, so it must be true *grin*.

    And guess what? There are still Jewish communities with a culture of secrecy and insularity in which there are varying degrees of abuses of power, and where something like what happened at Yeshivah 20 years ago can still happen.

    What I object to is when people (such as yourself) use the infallibility of Jews, Rabbis, or anyone associated with religion as an excuse to ridicule and to support the notion that ALL religion is evil/broken, or that the only appropriate fix for the organizations in question is their destruction.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Classic strawman. I never said this was a cause to dismantle the organisations. I said it was a cause to investigate them. Tut tut!

    It’s not just insularity that allows these power abuses to happen, it’s also the nature of instructing your child that the person watching over them is a man of god. The same god they think will send them to hell if they get one of his henchmen in trouble…

  • Classic idiocy. That entire paragraph wasn’t specifically directed at you, as indicated by the words “such as yourself”. The one about ridiculing religion certainly did include you, as evidenced by your response. No, Daniel, the whole world does not revolve around you. Your arrogance is only matched by your ignorance.

  • Reallity Check says:

    Fallible, David; sounds more like policy to me.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    David, you’re really calling me the idiot? And ignorant?

    You’re the one who, in the face of a mountain of evidence that you are living a lie continue to live that lie with zeal and pride.

    That is a textbook definition of an ignorant fool. So check yourself ;)

    And yes, when you begin your post with “Daniel” and refer to me once again in the middle of the posting, it is safe to assume it is addressed to me. Your argument here is extremely stupid. If you wanted to go on an aside and have it not relevant to me, you should probably signpost that clearly. I understand debating isn’t really your thing. In fact, thinking isn’t really your thing.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Daniel & David

    You are both not playing nice – do the mods need to give you both some time out?

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