How an Entire Community Of Sheep Were Deceived By Weberman! – Guest Post by Pearl Engelman

Blogmaster’s Note: Pearl Engelman wrote an earlier version of this open letter on May 17, 2012 after the fundraiser to defend alleged child molester Nechemyah Weberman. Pearl and some other advocates held a counter demonstration on the street. She first became an advocate of sex abuse victims in Williamsburg when she discovered that her son Joel (Yoily) was molested by his teacher, Rabbi Reichman.

Yerachmiel Lopin

How an Entire Community Of Sheep Were Deceived By Weberman

Guest Post by Pearl Engelman

As I write, I hold a list of 8 other victims. Can it really be that our community is so gullible as to believe the PR campaign for Weberman? Can it really be that our community is so willfully ignorant? That we WANT to believe that which makes us more comfortable despite the damage to innocent victims?

Many of my friends and acquaintances assumed my presence and media outspokenness at the protest against the fundraiser for accused sexual abuser Nechemia Weberman was due to my bitter experience with my son Yoiely’s molestation case. Not exactly wrong but not the whole story either.

This past Monday, May 14th, I received a call from an unknown woman asking if she could speak with me confidentially. When I assented she said “my daughter was sexually abused by Nechemia Weberman!” I listened in shock as she told me “when my daughter was 15 years old she began to dress differently than our family’s dress code and my husband and I were very worried about what this signified. We were advised to take her to Nechemia Weberman, the chassidishe (Hasidic) therapist for “troublesome” girls. We trusted Weberman fully, as he was also my husband’s good friend. During the 2 something years my daughter was in “therapy” with him she did not tell us what went on during almost every session.” I glanced at the caller ID and realized she was calling from upstate NY. My caller continued – “After my daughter’s wedding, one day she told me,

Mommy if you would know what Necehmia Weberman did to me you would kill yourself! He showed me sex videos, he made me do ——- to him, he did —— to me, and he told me that I should never, ever tell anyone because no one would ever believe me as I was known as a “troublemaker” and he was known as a very chosheve (prominent) person; I would have no credibility and would only damage my reputation further! He tried to convince me that no one understood me, cared for me or loved me as he did. For sure my parents did not understand me or love me!

To say the caller took my breath away is an understatement. Listening to the sorrowful tone of her voice was awful. Then she said “in hindsight I now remember that whenever I called him for a progress report or an update on my daughter a strange thing happened. He would actually instigate me against my daughter! I used to wonder why doesn’t he say something like – Don’t worry – we are working with her – there is hope for improvement – instead he would say what an ‘azas ponim (brazen girl) she was, how she would burn in gehenim (hell)  for her behavior!’ I would be so very angry at her and she at me; we were going at each other all the time.”

And then my caller told me her name! This family is not “nobody”, this is a well known, beautifully functional family! Very frum (observant) family! She explained to me that because her husband’s livelihood was dependant on the Heimishe (ultra orthodox) public they could not openly expose Weberman. Being from the community they knew the backlash would be directed against their daughter and themselves. And because their daughter was happily married they did not want to rock that boat either.

Her story continued: “When the campaign in support of Weberman was started this winter and I saw the signatures of the Rabbonim (rabbis) I couldn’t bear it anymore. I myself went to Rabbi Teitelbaum (son of the Satmar Rebbe, Zalmen Leib) and to Rabbi Pollack and told them my story. They were shocked,  Oiy, oiy vey, we didn’t know, we were told he was the victim of a bilbul (libel). However, you should know – we are still yiddishe kinder (Jewish children) and for this Weberman doesn’t have to sit in jail. We will take care of him and he will never do this again, and do not hinder us from protecting him!”

How do we say it? REVICTIMIZING THE VICTIM! In essence they are telling this poor mother – go home, choke your feelings and do not stop us from supporting and helping the man who violated your child! Has there ever been anything as cruel, as pitiless, as UNJEWISH? Is this really us? Don’t we stand for the emes (truth), for yoisher (rectitude)? A thought just occurred to me: Al pi torah (according to the torah) what was their responsibility after hearing from the mother?

I gently asked her what could I do to help? Her sorrowful answer was: “I don’t know”. Why did she call me now? Because she feels so terribly sick when she sees the fundraising campaign for Weberman.

And so now we come to the protest or rather to the massive PR campaign for Weberman. We yidden (Jews) pride ourselves on being uber chachomim (very clever people). No one can pull a fast one on us; no one can sell us the BrooklynBridge. So now I have several questions for us.

But before we tackle the questions, I’d like to share some of my experiences at the protest. Several men who recognized me asked me angrily “Why are you here?” “Weberman did something to your son?!”

Two ladies walking by angrily told me “It’s all lies, lies”! Sharon Otterman, the NY Times reporter standing nearby asked them “Can you please tell me why you think Weberman is innocent?” Here’s their answer, which is the sum total of what almost everyone asked says: “I know Weberman. He is a wonderful person, very smart, he has a wonderful family, he’s helped so many people. Look at the person who is accusing him – she’s garbage”.

This statement of “I know Weberman” flies in the face of the Talmud’s aiyn apitropes l’aroiyes’ (a man cannot function as his own guardian when he is alone with an unrelated female). Viciously besmirching the girl is in the same vein as people brainlessly saying “Look at Avrum Reichman (Yoely’s molester) and look at Yoely Engelman and whom are you going to believe?”

Several minutes later, I was introduced to a beautiful young woman from Williamsburg. I did not know who she was then (I do now). She said to me shaking her head sadly, “I know Weberman very, very well. I cannot talk, I’m married. I cried all day today – I wish I were standing with you, but I am not able to.” And with eyes brimming with tears she looked across the street at the outpouring of support for Nechemia Weberman!

Now to the questions:

1- Shouldn’t it seem strange to us that UTA, who goes so far as to censor with black magic marker a boy’s face in a first grade girl’s reader, that they employed a yungerman (younger man) as a therapist for wayward teenaged girls in his own office on Classon Ave? Not in the school office, no. A man with absolutely no training, no background in psychology. Who supervised him? Who oversaw his cases? Aren’t we very strict with yichud (rules about seclusion with unrelated females)? Aren’t we scrupulously gender separated at all times?

2- Does anyone bother to inquire into the facts of Weberman’s arrest? Oh we know that shiksa (gentile), that chatzifa (impudent one), that oisvurf (outcast), that terrible girl, who made a revenge bilbul (libel) on an innocent mechanech (educator) who was only trying to help her.

3- Who is really behind the huge campaign to fund Weberman’s legal fees? We know it must be his family, but can they alone really pull this off without outside help? Who are the outsiders and why are they interested in helping?

Leah (a pseudonym for the current victim), a student at United Talmudical Academy’s (UTA) Bais Rochel School for Girls, was sent by the school to Weberman for “therapy”. Oddly, after several years of his therapy the school needed to expel her! Of course no chassidishe (hasidic) school wanted to accept her. She landed at a girl’s school in Flatbush; the name of the school is not relevant. The school provided a guidance counselor for some of its students. Leah* was deemed in need of this service. She spoke about her experiences at Weberman’s hands and the guidance counselor, being a mandated reporter, called the authorities. Weberman was arrested. Hello, I’ll say it again – Weberman was arrested because the guidance counselor correctly reported him!

Do the wall posters or the articles in the newspapers tell us that? Of course not! We the sheeple (sheep) are led to believe the girl was a moser (informer) who acted out of revenge to get even with Weberman! Now know this: When an accused molester is arrested the case is owned by the legal system. In other words, Leah is not the complainant – the government is! The government in this case is the DA. Yes our friend Charles Hynes, whom the media has shown to be the best ally of the community cover-up of molesting! The DA and his crew will be on Leah’s side! (Oiy Vey!) On Weberman’s side will be the best attorneys money can buy thanks to our misguided generous donations for his defense! Besides the family, guess who else is so invested in defending Weberman? UTA of course! Imagine their headaches right now! UTA sent countless girls to Weberman. They must now make sure none of them ever, ever comes out to point fingers at him. Many of the girls are still below the statute of limitations – they are all potential missiles against UTA! Ha! And here we the sheeple were led to believe the missiles were directed by Leah against our community!

Yet, in one brilliant fell stroke, the organizers of the fundraiser “Alilas 75” have manipulated our gullible community with a threefold successful campaign:

  1. Getting us to believe Weberman is the victim of a vicious ‘Bilbel’!
  2. Terrorizing any and all other victims into shame and silence!
  3. Parting us from our hard earned money for Weberman’s defense!

Are you starting to feel as if we are living in Sodom? Can’t you just see them laughing all the way to the bank? Can the PR people really make us believe that black is white and white is black? We’ve been called many things – stupid should not be one of them!

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About Yerachmiel Lopin

Frum Follies is blog is for those who fight Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) in the Orthodox Jewish world where it is Purim all year. I fight corruption and denial by reporting, analyzing, satirizing, and agitating.
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84 Responses to How an Entire Community Of Sheep Were Deceived By Weberman! – Guest Post by Pearl Engelman

  1. Sherree says:

    Pearl you are clearly a voice of reason. I agree a thousand percent that this is not at all about Weberman and if UTA could make him sit for all their crimes they would make him the kaporah…If UTA would not be an accomplice to this crime they would be the first to scream “Rodef” for taking advantage of their innocent neshomas, after all these are THEIR precious bnos yisroel, the ones they are being mechanech, preparing for the future. If they weren’t part of the problem they would be part of the solution.

    • David says:

      Yes Sherree, it’s a situation such as this that separates the men from the boys.
      If all the facts here are accurate then that branch of Satmar are cowards! (Although we could very well understand their panic.)

      What I hope and pray for the most in this case (besides a full “recovery” for all victims) is that the evidence (and flow of testimonies) bring forth the undeniable truth, crystal-clear!
      If Weberman’s guilt is publicly proven it will be magnificent to behold! He will get his comeuppance, and Satmar and the community will learn a powerful (and embarrassing) lesson!

      Of course the downside would be the Chilul-Hashem, but I believe that this too would rest on Weberman’s shoulders.

  2. soso says:

    Dear Mrs. engelmann, thank you very much for this courageous post, for your courageous actions. You save the honor of the jewish people by standing by the victims, by believing them and not the perpetrators, by supporting them, by showing them love and kindness, by helping them to make their pleas heard.

    If it weren’t for you and courageous people like you, who stand up for the weak and innocent, not for the mighty and evil, klal yisroeal would have descended to the madrega of s’dom, where injustice was made law, were evil deeds were rewarded and good deeds were punished.

    It is difficult for any community or family or nation to idendify the evil in their midst, to hear the pleas of the victims, not only for klal Israel. Other groups, be it families, religions, communities have similar problems to tackle.

    thank you for doing this important work. Thank you for demonstrating against the iniquous pro-Weberman assembly, thank you for making the victim’s voices heard!

    I wish you a lot of success on your derech and many, many supporters who will join your ranks!

    • Pearl Engelman says:

      Thank you too! For your beautiful words. I have made it my mission to try educate my community in understanding the ramifications of childhood sexual abuse and molestation. The mainstream thinking here is as follows:
      ‘The deed is done and cannot be undone, now the damage to the victim must be weighed against the damage to the innocent members of the abusers family. Because the victim is one and the innocent members are many, and we are Rachmonim bnei Rachmonim, we always choose the benefit of the many, especially if they are innocent and ESPECIALLY if this reaction also makes us feel righteous!’
      Now here is where understanding is lacking – because if this reasoning were used – the many against the few – then we must understand that the victim actually represents the many! Although a victim may be a child, he will soon be an adult, a dysfunctional adult, a dysfunctional spouse and most disturbing, a dysfunctional parent with the potential to wreak terrible havoc on his defenseless children . And unfortunately our community has so many of these (sometimes silent to the public) problems. When the ripple effects of childhood sexual abuse and molestation on one victim are added up, the one victim becomes the many!

      • soso says:

        Yes, you are completely right! As an outsider to this system, I think it is cruel to judge the children for the deeds of their father or other family members. So what Rabbonim really should do is go against this mentality, which is very strong amongst the frum crowd, that “Yiches” is a predictor for the behaviour of humans. The hagada says: we ekach et avichem at avraham – we olech oto bechol eretz kenaan we etan lo et itzhak we eten leitzchak et essav ve et yaakov.

        Avraham was a tzadik ben Rasha. his son Yishmael was a rasha ben tzadik. His son yitzhak was a zadik ben zadik yitzhaks son yaakov was a tzadik ben tzadik, but esav was a rasha ben tzadik.

        From this we can learn, that what the father does is no prediction for the son, and that this belongs to the basis of our religion.

        So on the one hand, to protect the rasha and not hear the pleas of the victim is a midat sdom. On the other hand, condemning a son for what the father did is against the torah too, since hashem says that everyone is judged according to his own actions, and only once they are done.

        So this consideration for the family of the perpetrator is just one more indicator that the frum world is not really frum. Because if they were really frum, they could distinguish between the father and the son…

        By the way, I don’t know if you watch movies, but “La mala educacion” by Almodovar describes the ripple effects of molestation (in the context of a catholic boarding school, and quite the same “Omerta” (silence)- Mentality…

  3. David says:

    Can somebody please tell me, at least according to Satmar’s point-of-view, what precisely IS the Torah-mandated penalty for this?
    Rabbi Teiitelbaum claimed that Weberman is not deserving of jail for this. So for argument’s sake, what DOES he deserve in their opinion? A hefty Gelt-K’nass? Lose his house? Lashes? Public excommunication? What?!
    And are they actually implementing this bare-minimum punishment at the very least?!

    • Usually, if a a beit din believes the molesting claim they set a payment for therapy, a payment which is too small. L’halachah, as more mental damage becomes apparent a new beit din can assign additional payments. but that usually doesn’t happen. The amount assigned is usually too small. If the judgment is put in writing they conveniently mention the amount owed but dont say why the amount is owed. So even if you win in beit din you do not have written proof that the other person is a molester.

      In such cases in halachah damage assessments should cover ripui (healing) boishes (shaming) and tzar (infliction of pain). But from what I have heard, penalties are usually limited to ripui (e.g., psychotherapy costs).

      Beit din also has power to impose other penalties for tikkun olam (restoration of justice). Those are virtually unlimited in scope. During periods when battei dinim had immense civilly granted powers (e.g., during the vaad arbah aratzos in Lithuania or in Spain under the Muslims) beatein dinim even delivered Jews for death penalties. The Rashbah even approved cutting out a Jew’s tongue. Thirty Nine Lashes (Makkos) is not done in our days.

      I know of no beit din that has excommunicated someone. however there have been kol korehs ( signed proclamations) in a few rare cases announcing that someone was dangerous and should be avoided. This was done in EY to Mondrowitz. The American Rabbonim followed, conveniently, after some of them helped his escape from the police who were closing in on him in Brooklyn. Talk about locking the barn after the horses got out.

      99% of the time that a case reaches a beis din they do nothing to protect other children from molesting. Apparently a lot of them own censored copies of the shulchan aruch which exclude the section about lo saamod al dam reyachah (do not stand by on the blood of your neighbor). After all, in their wisdom, shidduchim for the children of a molester is more important than the rest of the Torah. As R. Moshe Soloveitchik of Chicago says, “Shidduchim are the new avodah zarah.”

      As Rabbi Yosef Blau (Mashgiach Ruchani at Yitzchok Elchanan Seminary) has repeatedly pointed out, in our times in America Beit din does not have the skills or power to effectively investigate. If it does determine molesting it lacks the power to prevent more molesting through jail, probation and sex offender registration.

      Rabbi Teitelbaum was blowing smoke when he said they would take care of it. With a molester, at a minimum they should either publicize that he is a danger and remove him from all work involving children and they should assign a mashgiach temimi 24/7/365. But I have never heard of that happening.

      I have heard of one fine family that has a relative who is on the sex offender registry. When he is invited to a family chasunah they hire a shomer to stay with him from beginning to end.

      • Jake says:

        Unfortunately, thru my very own experience with botei dinim, I found them to be easily corrupted by money and undue influence. Simply, because there is no power or judicial mechanism to punish such corruption when it is proven. Also, since there is no investigative powers to Beth Din, is it any wonder that the two Satmar factions are fighting it out in secular court???

  4. David says:

    Dear (Mr.? Rabbi?) Lopin,
    Thank you for your swift reply.

    A few comments:

    1) I still wonder if they at least implemented the minimum amount of payment for the victim, as pitiful a sum as it may be.

    2) I still wonder if they withdrew their financial or moral support from Weberman. (Even if it was without fanfare.)

    3) It’s obvious that you are no fan of the “Williamsburgh” Batei-Din and the likes. But is it possible that they aren’t truly corrupt? Is it at all possible that they really Pasken and act according to what THEY honestly think is the Halachah?

    4) I have been “burnt” too many times because I only got “1 side of the story”. I would really love to “interview” these Rabbonim (i.e. Rabbi Teitelbaum) to discover their reasoning, but I don’t think that will happen any time soon…
    However, seeing as you (and Mrs. Engelman) present a very convincing (and frightening) case and have no doubts as to the righteousness of your (our) cause, isn’t it at all possible to sway public opinion by by-passing these Rabbis and presenting the truth to the public? (Just having people read a copy of this Blog-posting would have a powerful effect.)
    True, I can’t imagine them letting you print your case in “Der Yid” newspaper, but if, for example, copies of this page were to be handed-out as fliers at the (next) counter-protest, that would have a strong impact, I believe.
    Mrs. Engelman’s posting sure “made a dent” with me.

    5) I don’t really think a Mashgiach-Temidi is a practical solution. The poor fellow would probably get arrested for stalking…

  5. David,

    Yerachmiel is fine for addressing me.

    1. To the best of my knowledge no Beit din was requested. Understand, the molestation was unknown to the parents until the girl’s guidance counselor learned of the molesting and informed the authorities who conducted an investigation that culminated in the arrest. So at that point 1. Any beit din could have refused the case because they could claim the girl was in aracaos (was pursuing a matter in goyish courts without sanction of beit din). This is a big deal unless you are one of the Teitelbaum brothers fighting with the other one for control of the Satmar yerushah. Secondly, as a practical matter, any sane family would know they would not have a ghost’s chance in that climate in Williamsburg.

    2. The rabbis of Williamsburg did not withdraw their support for Weberman. Instead some of them knowingly lied and signed a kol koreh proclaiming his innnocence and solicited money for his legal defense. I suspect the smart ones wouldn’t let Weberman near any of the kids in their extended family. The decent ones may even work at keeping all kids away from him. But they cannot publicly say, “Stay away from Weberman.” That would contradict their signatures on the kol koreh.

    3. I am sure some of the batein dinim in Williamsburg in good faith rule on cases according to their best understanding of halachah. Many of them have an excellent understanding of halachah. However the Chazon Ish once said most bad psak (rulings) arise not from ignorance of halachah but from ignorance of metzius (facts in the case). You have no business paskening on shechitah if you cannot tell the difference between a trachea and a windpipe. You have no business paskening on pedophilia if you don’t understand the facts of sex abuse or know how to competently use experts in that area to conduct interviews and investigations. Almost none of these batei dinim take the trouble to do that. Even if they did they would not have the subpoena and search warrant powers of the civil authorities.

    4. Our story does get out in Williamsburg. People own internet enabled cell phones and many hasidim read the blogs where they can get the truth. Occasionally I hear about printed copies of internet articles be shared with others in shul. Most important, Williamsburg is a dense social network and these matters get discussed and argued and rumors get circulated and debated. Believe me, the injuction against lashon horaah does not do much to dampen the velocity of rumor circulation. I think that in this sort of case some of that gossip is a good thing. The Chofetz was clear that there is no prohibition on sharing derogatory information when there is a toeles, a purpose involving protecting others from harm. That is why the torah verse prohiibiting rechilus (malicious gossip) ends with lo saamod al dam reyachah (do not stand by on the blood of your neighbor).

    5. No, a mashgiach temidi would not work. As you say, the poor fellow might get charged with stalking. Perhaps, he might also get corrupted by Weberman.

    • noam says:

      I pretty much agree with everything you wrote, yet one item strikes me as iffy.
      “many hasidim read the blogs where they can get the truth”
      How many blogs tell the truth?

      • I for one take pride in being accurate. I post nothing unless I believe it to be true and I check my facts. When I make a mistake I publish a correction as quickly as possible. I can with confidence say that when it comes to sex abuse in the orthodox world there is a lot more truth on the blogs than hasidim can find in the Blatt or the Yid.

        Shmarya Rosenberg uses Failed Messiah to bash the haredi world. But his reporting is accurate. I don’t listen to Nuchem Rosenberg’s drashas very often but I read his blog and I find it accurate. UOJ is deadly accurate. So too is UOJ and AdKan.

    • David says:

      Yerachmiel,

      Your outrage is apparent. Your condemnation is harsh. But justifiably so, if all you say is true.

      I am inclined to accept your facts, but not unconditionally. I must remain faithful to my policy of “hearing both sides of the story” before being completely convinced.
      Sometimes I find out one missing detail, one omitted or hereto unknown factoid, that changes the entire picture.

      In the meantime, based on your convictions, I can only encourage you to keep fighting the good fight. As long as it’s L’shem Shomayim you have my admiration (for whatever it’s worth).

      Is it at all possible to get some “sound bites” from the (accused) Dayanim? I would love to hear or read their defense. I imagine you, and everybody else, would too.

      In the meantime, I hope you will agree that the Chareidi community at large should not be condemned. Please refer to the title of this blog-posting: “…Community of Sheep…”
      Is it so surprising that Yidden are following the rulings and policies of their Rabbonim? In the vast majority of cases that’s the way it should be!

      I am convinced that most of the people that rallied and supported Weberman all had altruistic, if misguided, motives.
      And, hypothetically, had they all read this blog-posting, Weberman would hardly have had a Minyan…

      Footnote: Just a thought conjured up by my (vivid?) imagination:
      Possibly,Hashem recognized the problem of “innocent community of sheep mislead (in this case) by their shepherds” . “Shomer P’soyim, Hashem”. So he maneuvered that Weberman’s guilt should slowly but surely be exposed. And that he is brought to justice.

      • David, be my guest at contacting each of the signers of the kol koreh and asking them why they signed. Start by asking them if they did their own inquiry. If not ask them on whose say so they signed. I am interested in hearing what you find out.

        I won’t bother with those phone calls because I am really not interested in how they did such sloppy signing. But I suppose their answers might be revealing.

        • David says:

          Yerachmiel,

          I’d like to call them, but that ain’t gonna happen. This would be best done by an official Asken or journalist.

          Anyway, my main point of inquiry would not be why/how they messed up. (According to this blog, Rabbi Teitelbaum and Rabbi Pollack allegedly confessed they were mislead and mistaken about Weberman.)
          The main question would/should be about WHAT is being done now to rectify the situation.

          If all that this blog reports about Weberman is accurate, then he is truly an evil and sinful man.
          I just find it somewhat difficult to reconcile with his good accomplishments with many other children. Perhaps he used his talents often enough only to bolster his reputation and resulting financial gain. And to gain a loyal following. (This he had accomplished admirably.)

          I would postulate that Rabbi’s error is that they are treating this guy as if he was simply a good Jew that “Nebich” succumbed to his Yetzer-Hora once or twice.
          It didn’t “sink in” that he might be a vile repeat offender and dangerous manipulator.

          I hope the whole truth will soon be revealed for all to see in all it’s gory glory…
          “Sof Gahniv L’tliya”.

          Thanks for the education.

  6. I don’t believe this is the first time that Rabbis Teitelbaum and Pollak heard bad things about Weberman. From what I can determine he probably had a hundred victims. I am sure that others came to R Teitelbaum. Each time he probably said the same thing, I will take care of it. As long as the victims did not know about the other cases (and how could they) they took what they were told on good faith. It is even possible that Weberman was told to mend his ways. But understand that these days the Askanim run the kehillah, people like Niederman, Moshe Gabbai Friedman and a slew of others. The Rabbonim generally accept their advice. Unfortunately the askanim of the vaad hatznius had a good business going.

    The rabbonim probably justify it to themselves by underestimating the damage of molesting and overestimating the importance of keeping Jews out of jail. Besides, Weberman’s victims were not high status members of the community.

    I don’t say all this casually. At first when I encountered this pattern in other frum communities I turned this and that way to judge the cover-up artists more kindly. I tried to believe that they understood nothing or were being misled, etc. But at the end of the day I have concluded that most rabbonim can kvetch a nebbich but they are willing to look the other way to keep the system running.

    It is disgusting but it is the truth. Look at the histories of YM Weingarten, BM Lebovitz, Yiddie Kolko or Mondrowitz. In each case rabbonim chose not to act in the face of overwhelming evidence for decades.

    What can I say? This is a generation bereft of worthy leaders. Most of them are more interested in kovod and kesef than halachah and children. Children are incredible hypocrisy detectors. That is why so many are going OTD. Now there are some rabbonim who are truly erlich and not motivated by money and prestige. They do not hold important positions. Most of them unfortunately lack courage. But a dayan or Rav without a spine is as useless for protecting children as one with limited intelligence.

  7. David says:

    Your reply is depressing.

    As for the Rabbis being aware of Weberman all along, that’s only a suspicion. Conjecture, if you will.
    However, I think you are quite correct with your assumption when writing: “The rabbonim probably justify it to themselves by underestimating the damage of molesting and overestimating the importance of keeping Jews out of jail.” But you forgot to mention sparing the pervert’s family the horrible shame and damage.

    In desperation I would like to assume (especially in Elul) that the Grand-Rabbis of significant Kehillos that were not yet “put to the test” WOULD (if C’V a molestation case happens within their respective Kehillos) react forcefully. They still have a Chezkas-Kashrus.
    This does not necessarily mean they would immediately march the molester off to jail. (Sometimes a Mayvin could determine the perp to be a likely one-time offender) But hopefully take drastic measures “L’man Yishme’u V’yiru’u, V’loy Yezidin oyd”!

    May you and your peers be successful in uncovering and exposing the monsters in our midst and, consequently, force the hands of our leaders to act and do what is incumbent upon them!
    I believe that little by little they will come around.
    Let’s not forget that when it comes to this issue, they (we) are relatively new at it…

    Is it too soon to wish you a Ksiva V’Chasima Toyva?

    • I am not saying that every Rav or dayan who signed the kol koreh knew that Weberman was guilty. I am saying that I am sure that some knew he was guilty. However, virtually all failed to conduct serious inquiry before signing. Serious inquiry was required because he was arrested on those charges. If they take their signatures seriously they should have talked to the accuser before they signed. After all, they didn’t just say, help a Jew out of jail. They also said the charges were false, were a bilbul (libel). How can you say that just on the say-so of the accused.

    • Pearl Engelman says:

      David, Please see by reply to “soso” in regards to this comment: However, I think you are quite correct with your assumption when writing: “The rabbonim probably justify it to themselves by underestimating the damage of molesting and overestimating the importance of keeping Jews out of jail.” But you forgot to mention sparing the pervert’s family the horrible shame and damage.

  8. Ad-Kan says:

    In psychology it is known that humans unwittingly tend to repeat history. We all do do the same things over and over again. Good things and bad things.

    Perhaps we ought to shine some light on the history of the Rabbis (batei din) in Brooklyn.
    Have they ever punished a known molester?
    Have the Rabbis ever reported a pedophile who has committed sexual crimes to the NYPD?
    Have the Rabbis and community leaders ever publicly announced their support of victims of sexual abuse?
    Have the Rabbis ever issued a Kol Koreh requesting that a sex offender be publicized and brought to justice?

    I think the answer to all the above is a resounding no!

    What more proof do we need?

    • David says:

      Actually the answers are NOT a resounding “no”.
      And it’s not a resounding “yes” either.

      Some steps HAVE been taken in some cases.
      True, many/most of us hold that the steps taken by the Rabbis were inadequate (too little, too late), but,however insufficient, in whatever manner the Rabbis did react, it was usually done purposely “behind the scenes”. Everything was typically “hush hush”.

      Now, whether you agree with their policy and reasoning or not, the explanation commonly is to protect the families (especially the innocent children) from shame.
      This includes the children of the molester, but most importantly the young victim.

      Indeed it’s foolish but it’s a fact that needs to be considered that there is a stigma attached to the family of a pervert, and worse, the innocent victim.
      Nobody really blames the victim, but he/she is then considered “Ah Nebbich”. Damaged goods. The victim’s parents usually, naturally, want to avoid this.

      Plus there’s a strong prevailing (prudish?) discomfort in Chareidi society to discuss these topics with children. And if publicized, it would be unavoidable. (Although perhaps that wouldn’t be such a bad idea.)

      Not to mention that, children being children, other kids will whisper behind the victim’s back.
      And they will inevitably taunt the molester’s children.
      (“Your Totty is [going to jail because he is] a big Chazzer!”)

      So ordinarily, in this society, it’s considered preferable to remain secretive. The poor victim in particular would generally want this to remain under wraps.
      I can recall my mentality as a youngster and, if this would have happened to me, I probably would have been mortified if everybody knew…

      And that’s why the public is rarely aware of the crime and punishment (if any).

      • Ad-Kan says:

        David
        I cannot agree for the following reasons:
        The Rabbis and leaders of our communities very simply need to announce that it is a mitzvah to report sex offenders to the police. In addition they should publicly pronounce that they stand behind and support every victim of abuse. That the community at large should open their arms wide and embrace survivors of abuse. They should offer support and help and most of all an understanding that victims of abuse should never be shunned, intimidated or run out of town.

        Its pretty simple when you think about it.
        If that were to happen how easy do you think it would be for molesters to show their faces in shuls, mikvahs, weddings…..

        There is only one reason that sex offenders molest and rape Jewish children.
        The reason is because they CAN.
        There are no consequences for hurting a frum child.
        So they can and they do.

        • David says:

          Yerachmiel,

          Unfortunately it’s not so simple.

          a) Reporting offenders directly to the police (without consulting a Rabbi first) is a separate controversial issue that is at the crux of the problem.

          Many Rabbonim are concerned about people misjudging the parameters of when it’s permissible to commit Messirah. Therefore the general rule is: always consult your local Rabbi first. (Just like any plaintiff first needs Rabbinical approval before taking a case to court.)
          I have a hunch that you disagree…

          I guess (hope) many Rabbonim might agree that when a person is completely sure that So-and-So is a “Rodef”, so sure that they would bet their life on it, then it’s OK to call the cops immediately. Especially if/when the suspect is heading to the airport…
          (Although in practice we see that the Rabbis themselves are reluctant to involve the law.)

          My “layman’s” advice is that when somebody is sure beyond a shadow of doubt that XYZ is a “Rodef”, (and the accuser wants to bypass the Rabbi who does not have a very good track-record) he/she should (swiftly) take the child to a (non Chareidi?) Psychologist/expert.
          This will accomplish 2 things: 1) A professional’s assessment if the child was truly molested. 2) As a mandated reporter the Therapist will “do the dirty work” of notifying the authorities.
          Underhanded? Maybe. But it works.

          b) The rest of what you want to see being done (public announcements etc.) is analogous of Utopia.
          I’m completely with you on that.
          And I’m optimistic that, thanks to people like you, we will, bit by bit, reach that stage. B’ezras Hashem ASAP.

        • Actually there is no halachic controversy at all if the victim him/herself is the witness and is mentally competent. Yet even in those situations rabbonim regularly counsel people out of reporting. Very common is the case where the rav says, you are allowed to report according to halachah but I would advise against it because of shidduchim. Since when do rabbonim offer such advice. Do they say, the pot is trayf but it would be embarassing or expensive so don’t tell anyone? No siree! When it comes to molesting most heimish rabbonim and dayonim are guilty of doing what they criticize in Reform and Conservative rabbis. They bend or break halachah to conform with social pressures and haredi fashion.

          You write, “My “layman’s” advice is that when somebody is sure beyond a shadow of doubt that XYZ is a “Rodef”, (and the accuser wants to bypass the Rabbi who does not have a very good track-record) he/she should (swiftly) take the child to a (non Chareidi?) Psychologist/expert. This will accomplish 2 things: 1) A professional’s assessment if the child was truly molested. 2) As a mandated reporter the Therapist will “do the dirty work” of notifying the authorities. Underhanded? Maybe. But it works.”

          As a practical matter you advice works to get the report in while keeping your hands clean. But do you think that will stop the social pressure to not testify? Besides it is established that a talmid chacham is sometimes obliged to do things on shabbos himself for pikuach nefesh rather than delegating it to someone else. This is so people will come to recognize the halachah of pikuach nefesh overiding shabbos. Isnt it time for rabbonim to stand up and say, “I didn’t just give them a heter to report; I told them al pi halachah they are mechuyav to report.” Instead, we have the few rabbonim who permit reporting say “you don’t have my permission to say I was the one who gave the heter.”

        • Ad-Kan, Those are strong words, but sadly they are true. Thank you.

      • David,

        Explain to me how rabbis can protect other children from a molester acting behind the scenes. Next time you hear a rabbi say we are keeping an eye out on him ask him “So where is he now?”

        If you are told he was fired from a teaching job ask “So how will that protect children in other schools?”

        Next time you are told that the molester has “Eight children who need to get married,” ask why the blood of his children is redder than the blood of his victims?”

        As for the concern for the shame by the victim ask “So why don’t you publicize his name without naming the victim?”

        I respect the choice of a victim not to be a witness though I realize this leaves others unprotected. So why don’t rabbonim declare that someone who is charged and is guilty is obliged to spare the victim further pain by pleading guilty as the first step in his tshuvah? I have never heard of that happening.

        I am sorry, but for every rav who deserves the benefit of the doubt because they are doing their best behind the scenes I will bet there are 10 or 20 or maybe 100 who are protecting molesters and cheapen yiddishkeit by hiding behind flimsy excuses.

        I say this based on my experiences with very many cases that never come to light because of rabbonim violate lo saamod al dam reyachah every day they continue to cover up.

      • NYJew says:

        I wonder if your endorsement of secrecy would apply in other types of cases. If a butcher were accused of selling treif meat as kosher, would you still want the same level of secrecy? Would you’re concern for the family of the offender supersede your concern for the wider community? Would you tolerate the rabbinic holding a fundraiser for the offender?
        Have we learned nothing from the scandals of the Catholic church? The real chilul Hashem is allowing these incidents of molestation to continue by trying to sweep it under the rug.

  9. Ad-Kan says:

    Yerachmiel,
    Thank you for your vote of confidence- but you gotta take some credit too- it is through people like US who keep on fighting until change comes about.

    As far as it being simple?
    It is really quite simple- unless you (meaning “them”) dont want it to be….

    Also I recently spoke to a prosecutor from the office of the DA. She told me that in her 25 years of working with cases of sexual abuse she cannot account for one case where someone was falsely accused of being a molester- the only exception being divorce where it is common for one spouse to accuse the other of abuse.

    The reason I mention this is because the excuse that our leadership gives about false accusations is a complete and utter sham.
    It is not an acceptable reason for not going to the police.

    Sex offenders are soul murderers and should be treated as such!

  10. David says:

    Yerachmial, Mrs, Engelman, Ad-Kn,

    Your arguments are persuasive. But I am still reluctant to accept/believe that so many of our Rabbis are so very incompetent or worse, corrupt. Call me an ostrich if you will.

    I am holding on to the (naive?) thought that the Rabbonim are, for better or for worse, doing what they think is proper. And the the “bad apples” among the Rabbonim are few and far between.
    And that if and when somebody would actually interview them (or confront them) with legitimate (respectful) questions, they will provide a plausible understandable (and quite possibly erroneous) explanation of their policies.
    They may even quote chapter and verse of the different Chazals and posskim they are basing their rulings upon.

    After hearing/reading their “Hesber” I could then decide what to hold and believe. (If that ever happens.)

    As bad as it looks, I’m still holding on for dear life to the “2 sides to every story” motto.
    It helps me sleep at night…

    In the meantime I hope you’ll continue educating the public and applying pressure so that the Rabbonim that mean or meant well (but messed up) will organize and formulate a policy that’s cohesive, viable and effective.
    The merit of which will sure come in handy on this and future Rosh-Hashonos…

    Unnecessary footnote:
    In case you do get to have a meeting/discussion with an opposing Rav, I think you’d agree that it’s important to always maintain an environment of the utmost respect for the Rabbonim, including for those that you feel don’t really deserve it. (Or at least until you conclude, and can prove, that said Rabbi is corrupt.)

    I’m mentioning this because you, Yerachmiel, have written some really harsh words in these posts. Your being correct not withstanding, using the tone of (justifiable) outrage when addressing or relating to the Rabbonim will likely be counter-productive in maintaining dialogues, and more importantly, will alienate their followers from being receptive. (If, for example, you insulted MY Rabbi, I would probably be too offended to pay much attention to what you have to say…)

    Not too mention that when dealing with Talmidei-Chachamim, even incompetent ones, there is the issue of Kovod-Hatorah.

    Forgive me for stating the obvious.

    May all your endeavors meet with proper and fruitful success!

  11. Raffi says:

    I wrote up a response to this post explaining my take on why the frum community is so grievously bad at addressing this issue. Thought it might be of interest to readers of this blog.

    “. . . Many have asked why the Orthodox community is so awful in the way it handles child sexual abuse . . . It doesn’t look good, to say the least, and it is truly painful and embarrassing to the many Orthodox Jews who wish their community would live up to its own standards. . . here is my take on why this happens.”

    http://www.frumcounselor.com/2012/09/orthodox-cover-up-sexual-abuse.html

    • A good argument. Put simply you are saying that the tie that binds is more chauvanism than faith and chauvanism blinds to the point that dissonant facts must be denied.

      In the chasidish world I would add on the fact of massive criminality on government programs. Since almost everyone is vulnerable to criminal prosecution they must collectively block all prosecutions. I believe that there are many folks who at least suspect Weberman is guilty and they are lying when they protest his innocence to outsiders. But what can they do, say he is guilty but we will protect him anyways. In this way, chauvanism leads to blindness at times and lying at times.

  12. David says:

    I tried to reply on Raffi’s blog, but it didn’t work. And i don’t have time now to figure it out. So I will just “paste” my reply here.
    I hope Yerachmiel doesn’t mind.

    “Raffi,
    A succinct summary.

    I would call the fund-raising a “knee jerk” reaction” by well-intentioned but uninformed (or misinformed) people.
    (I disagree with Yerachmiel that they are mostly evil-intentioned.
    With few exceptions, they simply don’t know what they are doing. They are mixed-up, confused and bewildered. And yes, meanwhile they are unintentionally causing a lot of damage. Hashem Yirachem.)

    BTW, As bad as it looks, Weberman is still innocent until proven guilty.

    I hope the truth will be exposed soon.

    Whether he’s declared innocent or (based on what I’ve read, more likely) guilty, it will be a powerful lesson for all.

    Let’s give the Chareidim the benefit of the doubt. (Likovod the Yomim-Noraim) This is a new reality for them/us. It may take a while to “acclimate”.

    I believe that with ongoing dialogue and pressure, these Kehillos will eventually “come around”.

    Don’t give up! In the past few centuries even fierce Misnagdim eventually became devoted Chassidim. (:

    Bottom line: These supporters of the molesters mean well. They just haven’t figured it out yet…

    We Jews are a stubborn people. Give us some time.
    And meanwhile you, and others like you, keep up the good work.
    Please keep up your “education campaign” with respect and dignity.

    A Ksiva V’Chasima Tovah!”

    • I do not assume all of Weberman’s defenders are evil. However, I think that term fits those who know the truth about him and still defend him, slander his victims, lie to the public, and endanger other kids in the process .

      None of us can predict the trial outcome with certainty though a prudent gambler would not be on his being acquitted. Based on information I have, some I which I have shared on this blog i have no doubt of his guilt.

      I agree that he has some supporters who are ignorant. But ignorance in the community, especially as it pertains to the dynamics of sex abuse is something fostered by the leadership.

      I ask you, at what point is ignorance not a defense?

    • Raffi says:

      David, thanks for the response. I would love to invite others among my readers to join the discussion. Would you mind trying to post again on my site? The biggest problem I’ve had with that is just getting the darned captcha right… other than that, there should be no problems posting. I appreciate your effort to help me out.

      Thanks!

      Raffi

  13. adkanenough.com says:

    David
    You say :“But you forgot to mention sparing the pervert’s family the horrible shame and damage”

    It is unacceptable to allow a child molester to roam free on account of “sparing his family the shame and damage”.

    If a Rabbi determines that an offender should not be publicised so that his family can be protected, that Rabbi is responsible for the inevitable victimisation of many more children.

    David would you agree that the family of Leiby Kletzky owns a responsibility to put their sons murderer in jail so that he is no longer a danger to the rest of our communities children?

    Do you think any Rabbi would dare to protect Levi Aaron in order to spare shame befalling his family? Even if a Rabbi wanted to he couldn’t get away with it.
    The community would not allow it.

    I realise that people are often ignorant of the damage caused by child sexual abuse and rape, but I can assure you it is considered “murder of the soul”.

    You seem like an honest and intelligent person, but it scares me to think that even truth seeking people like you have very little knowledge about sexual abuse and its consequences.

    You might find it worth while to read adkanenough.com. You may gain a little more insight regarding CSA in the frum community.

  14. David says:

    First Yerachmiel:
    I can’t dispute anything you just wrote.
    I’m only stressing that I believe that the irresponsible or wicked ones are in the minority.
    And the ignorant, mislead and well-meaning masses are the majority.

    Raffi,
    I wish I could help, but I “Mahmish” don’t have the time to figure it out before Yom-Tov.
    In other words, I’ll Bli-Nedder try “next year”…
    (I hope I don’t forget. And if I don’t manage, please forgive me before Yom-Kippur!)

    Ad-Kan,
    You misunderstood me. I was not claiming that protecting the molester’s family is a valid reason for remaining quiet. I merely proposed that this is probably one of the Rabbi’s reasoning.

    I tend to completely agree that it’s more important to consider the potential for future victims.

    But I would also like to mention that, based on my limited observations, not all molesters pose a further threat. Why? Because I believe I have come across 2 or 3 cases where the perpetrator committed his crime because of a total lack of understanding of how terrible a deed he did.
    e.g. He knew he is doing wrong (and for that he has to accept consequences) but, due to his youth and inexperience in life, he never imagined the harm he is causing.
    He apparently figured that he is not hurting the child physically, and there will be no long-term effect on the child. (Obviously I’m not referring to anything coming close to the Weberman case.)
    Some of these young men are not multiple-violators, and if they had an inkling of the harm they were causing they would never knowingly endanger a child.
    So, whether we agree or not, sometimes a Rabbi might conclude that this molester, while having a (harsh) punishment meted out, he is not jail-material.

    I for one am not qualified to make these decisions.
    And I too believe that this is not the usual case. But an honest, intelligent and competent Rabbi might be able to differentiate between a real threat and a hereto young, “uneducated” and foolish dolt.

    Ksiva V’chasima Toyva.

    • David,

      You offer up a case where you feel a rabbi could be right in not supporting reporting a molesting crime. It involves a foolish young dolt who didn’t realize the harm he was doing by, let’s say, fondling a child.

      These are perfect cases to report to the authorities. Such people, with a very limited short duration and first time offense are given very lenient treatment by the criminal justice system. They usually get supervised probation if they take the first steps of tshuvah: admitting their acts, begging mechilah, accepting responsibility for doing what they can to repair the damage, cooperating with a program of supervised counseling, and agreeing to steps to avoid tempting themselves by avoiding triggering situations.

      You speak about a foolish dolt. Foolish, yes, but also driven by impulses which he could not keep under control. Such people need help controlling impulses. An enormous body of research shows such people do much better in therapy if they know that there are consequences from the criminal justice system if they violate their probation conditions.

      As for the rabbonim, I am willing to concede that some of them are ignorant. It is good for the ignorant ones to be challenged when their ignorance causes incredible harm. I would argue that hocheiach tochiach (obligation to admonish) applies to them.

      But I have to say that most rabbonim lie to their own public depriving them of the information needed to keep their children safe. Consider the Satmar allied rabbonim signing the kol koreh for Weberman. Some of the most prominent ones, including the Satmar Rebbe (Williamsburg) declared Weberman innocent. Many of them knew better because they heard otherwise from a number of parents. At best we can say they are extremely ignorant after years in the rabbonus and hearing a number of complaints. Why give them the benefit of the doubt. They are either incorrigibly ignorant and don’t deserve the kavod given to a Rav, or incorrigibly dishonest which is an even harder condition to correct.

      Imagine a rabbi whose followers trust him for medical advice, who keeps advising followers not to go to professional doctors, and whose followers keep dying as a result. At some point you have to stop thinking about his intentions and motives and just decide to bypass him and go to a real doctor.

      This year when we say al chet for giluy arayos we all have to think about how we made it possible for so much of this to happen. It is not good enough to settle for more of the same and relying on the same leaders who got us into this situation. That is not an honest al chet.

  15. David says:

    Yeruchim,

    Once again I cannot dispute what you just wrote, except for 1 detail.

    The “foolish dolt” may be dealt with leniently by the authorities, however, arguably the same results may be achieved when he is dealt with “internally” by the Rabbi.
    The difference being that we may spare his family shame and disgrace.

    I compare a guy like this to a person that has an “impulse” to eat on a fast-day. If he thinks it’s a lenient fast-day, such as a Tzum-Gedaliah Nidcha, he might yield to his impulse. But once he is brought to realize it’s Yom-Kippur he will certainly cease and desist! I am not referring to an incorrigible maniac.

    So since he is now Sof-kol-sof rendered harmless (if handled correctly), why not protect the innocent members of his family in the bargain?

    p.s. I like your thought/remark on what we should also have in mind during that particular Al-Cheit.

    Have a Good Yom-Tov and a wonderful Year!

    • neverdefiled says:

      There’s no such thing as a reformed child molester. Your naivety is staggering. The only cure is death.

      They will always pose a risk to children, no matter how repentant they appear. Nothing works. Not incarceration, therapy, chemical castration – nothing.

      As to your suggestion of taking an abused child to a psychologist before the police, I know you mean well but. it is the worst thing you could possibly do. The child’s verbal statement must only be taken by trained specialist police detectives. Anyone else can contaminate evidence simply by asking the child the wrong questions.

      Police first and always.

      • David says:

        I hope you are aware that many (not naive) people disagree with you about every molester being a hopeless-case. Including, apparently, our host Yerachmiel (whom I mistakenly addressed as “Yeruchim” earlier).

        A few postings ago, “NYJew” compared this to a butcher caught selling Treif meat.
        Personally I believe that if it was a one-time incident then the Hashgochoh should be withdrawn from that butcher, but it SHOULD be done quietly in order to spare the family shame.
        (And the butcher should be warned that if he ever get’s back into the butcher business without a Mashgiach-TEMIDI, THEN his transgression will be made public.)

  16. Raffi says:

    neverdefiled: I think the scientific jury is still out on whether there is any effective remedy for adult molesters; however, for JUVENILE molesters it is CLEAR that there is hope. They should not be thrown under the bus, but rather helped to heal.

    David: comments on frumcounselor.com should be fixed now and there should be nothing to figure out.

  17. David says:

    Hey everybody,

    Check out this link:

    http://www.vosizneias.com/113775/2012/09/19/new-york-the-lessons-of-tzom-gedaliah-and-the-misused-lashon-harah-phrase#comments

    And I think you might find comments # 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 of interest.

    And have a G’mar Chasima Tovah!

  18. Sivi says:

    I see the point of this article as: besides for shedding some light on an atrocious crime, it points out how disfunctional the system of such communities have gotten. I see from people’s comments that once again people are left saying, “well, I have to give benefit of the doubt.” This benefit of the doubt attitude is getting us nowhere. If this case was dealt with in a legal manner from the very first rumor/ first accusation, then it wouldn’t be left for the jewish community to sit around and chatter on theories and ‘benefit of the doubt’ attitudes.

    On a personal note, I have to say that all the secrecy and cover-ups is a disease that runs through the communities that are more ‘closed’ than others. You may argue that bad things happen everywhere. This is true. But when a community behaves in such a way that the priority holds that you should make everything look good on the surface rather than show the truth to light lest you ‘shame the person and their family’ and when a community issue is dealt with as a ‘family issue,’ rather than a ‘legal issue’ then a lot of corruption is ignored and then covered up. Does Carlbach ring a bell here people?
    Parents need to believe their children. The need to be attentive.

    Having gone to a frum school myself, I saw the lack of sexual education a HUGE problem. Once again, the community has a ‘heaven forbid’ attitude. Lack of education causes ignorance and thus leads to secrecy within community. Rape, teenage sex, sexual protection, is not an immediate family issue. It is a social issue!

    The following comment might also perhaps make people angry, but it must be made: I think the priorities are screwed up in many ultra-orthodox communities. For example, it’s a great mitzva to have many children. But what about the responsibility of raising them, emotionally and financially, and being attentive to their needs? Are we just baby making machines? There is a huge priority in separating men and women. In Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, communities tried to have men sitting in one area of the bus and women in another, when this caused a lot of practical problems, as some spouses need to sit together, and also how about pregnant women having to sit in the back where the bus is very bumpy and loud and stuffy? This is an example of how halacha is skewed and priorities are askew. Why is all the responsibility on the woman to dress a certain way while the men wear these suits and heavy clothing and I have to smell their body odor everywhere I go. What about dooderant? What about washing your hands with hand soap after you go to the bathroom? Shouldn’t that be a part of physical tsniut? There, I said it. I’m talking about priorities here!

    I don’t tend to rant, but this article and the way i see people reacting to it only added fuel to a fire. Enough with the benefit of the doubt attitude and gossip.
    If everything has supposedly gone so corrupt because of galut, then why are the rabbis supposedly untouched? They all should be trusted in this day and age?
    Let’s get real for once.

  19. rachel fekete says:

    1)Is it true that the accuser wore a magen david to court? is this a personal issue or a community assault?
    2) Do you believe that Mr. Weberman did what he was accused of, in the victim’s home, and at twelve years old she was capable of cleaning up without her parents awareness?
    3) Yes, many accused should be punished, but is every single person accused, guilty just because some cases get shoved under the rug? Or are they considered(according to the US justice system) INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY?
    4)why do you think that keeping issues of abuse hush is exclusive to our community, when the NY Times just reported the same reaction to a report in Yeshiva University?
    5)Is a therapist without a college degree considered uneducated if he is a talmid chochom?
    6)Could a teen girl that was suffering all this abuse and never sharing with anyone come out emotionally unharmed and ready for a trusting relationship and marriage?
    And for the records: with all our shortcomings in education, our students have yet to bring guns to school.

    • 1. huh! she said she considers herself Modern Orthodox. Loads of MOs wear magen davids.
      2. Yes. How much cleaning up does it take?
      3. Yes. He got a fair trial and was convicted.
      4. See my discussion of YU vs Satmar here: http://wp.me/pFbfD-Te
      5. Is a surgeon without a medical degree someone you would use just because he is a talmid chochom? There is knowledge in the professional world that is necessary to do such work well.
      6a. It is hard to do intimacy well after abuse. But the odds of success imporve with therapy (by a skilled therapist who does not rape you), honesty about yourself, honesty about your past with your husband, and the knowledge that your close friends and others support you and will fight for you. her prospects for a successful marriage are much higher than the many victims of weberman who have never told their husbands.
      6b. You are right. I never heard of a Satmar boy coming to school and shooting up the place. So why dont you advertise “Go to UTA, We pimped our girls to Wemberman but never had a shooting episode.” Run that ad and I will be modeh it is emes.

  20. Escapee says:

    I just wanted to comment on the way David, in this discussion, is so insistent on being charitable and giving the beis-din/rabbinical system, and the numerous rabbis involved in this debacle, ‘the benefit of the doubt’. Does this strike anyone as a particularly generous gesture?

    Simply put It allows David to remain a ‘good’ ‘worthy’ member of a corrupt community. Who benefits by him giving them the benefit of the doubt? They do, and David does – clearly there are some advantages to living in this insulated community and he is reluctant to forego them; it is obviously more comfortable and personally advantageous to conform and not stand out by objecting.

    Any half-way decent person MUST admit that what has happened to these children is horrifying, that all adults are obligated to support such victims in whatever way possible and do whatever it takes to prevent such things ever happening again. That is what decency is – protecting the powerless and vulnerable from those who would prey on them.

    What is all this about ‘seeing both sides’ but an absurd ruse for complacency and an effort to retain ones identity as a kind and even-handed person while backing a hideous and corrupt system.

    • David says:

      It seems you are suggesting that there are cases where/when it is not necessary to hear both sides of the story before passing judgement.
      Sorry, I cannot support that view,,, And I do believe that such a suggestion is universally unacceptable. (Religiously and secularly!)

      FYI, Btw, as a result of Weberman’s trial, I did have the opportunity to gather “both sides of the story”, and subsequently I do indeed now believe he’s guilty and received what he deserved.

      And as for the Rabbis… I think I detect they’re coming around…
      I do still give (most of) them the “benefit of the doubt” that this is/was new to them, and it’s difficult to alter the concept of the general issur of Messirah which has been so strongly inculcated in us .

      It can take a while for responsible Posskim to recognize that a molester is nowadays, for all intents and purposes, a “Rodef”, for which Messirah doesn’t apply.
      (Not to mention that not all molesters are Webermans. There ARE some “one-time offenders” that can be educated and rehabilitated, and will never transgress again. For those kinds, “Messirah” still applies.)

  21. Kevin in Chicago says:

    So because a one-time offender might be treatable and not re-offend, he shouldn’t be reported to the police until he is caught doing it again? And how does one know that an incident of molestation is “the first time”? What if a molester changes communities? Does he get, in effect, “one free pass” per community? It seems to me that opening up the question of whether or not an alleged abuser against whom there is credible evidence is in fact a rodef who should be reported to civil authorities puts us back where we started.

    • Kevin in Chicago,

      I completely agree. Moreover, the rabbis who make these judgments have consistently shown self-interested motivations to buy into instant teshuvah they would never grant to someone caught munching a ham sandwich. Besides, virtually all the rabbis involved are forensically ignorant, and they muck up investigations by touching cases and delaying reporting.

      Even if they had high quality forensic skills and powers, you cannot objectively investigate cases where you have a vested interest in the outcome.

    • David says:

      Of course there is undeniably a daunting “Grey area” involved.
      The responsibility is downright frightening!

      On the one hand you might not report the perp to the Police, and risk future victimizations.
      On the other hand, if this perp was indeed the “One time offender” type, (and could have been handled internally) you run the risk of destroying his life and, more tragically, the lives of his family!

      A real “You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t” situation!

      (Perpetrators that have victimized multiple children and/or over an extended period of time, is not included in this “gray area”.)

      Personally I feel that when weighing the POSSIBILITY of future victims against the CERTAINTY of destroying this family, I would be more afraid of the “certainty”.
      But I am not adequately empowered to condemn you if you disagree…

      • You worry too much about the relatives of the offender. Let the offender worry about them. What’s about destroying the life of a child?

        In my experience a “”One time offender” type” is what they all claim each time they are caught. Because everyone covers up all previous instances, one can go on to a long successful career of hundreds of “first time” offenses.

        Shockingly, many rabbonim lie and invoke the “first time” offense over and over. Shameful but no different from the Catholic Church.

        Rabbonim should be stripped of their smichah and pulpits for degrading the meaning teshuvah when they invoke it on behalf of people who have not apologized to their victims, undertaken what compensation and reparation is possible, and firmly adhered to protocols to avoid repeating their crimes (like not working any more with children).

        David, don’t you loose respect for rabbis who are either ignorant about hilchos teshuvah or prostitute themselves and distort the halachah to protect those who are close to them. Why doesn’t this make your stomach turn.

        If they treated someone who ate a ham sandwich that way they would be kicked out of frumville. But raping a boy- thats just a minor thing in their books.

  22. Escapee says:

    David, my words were:

    ‘What is all this about ‘seeing both sides’ but an absurd ruse for complacency…’

    Clearly I am not against the general principle of allowing the accused to speak; just as I am not against being generous, as a general principle. I am questioning whether fairness and generosity is really your motivation in being just so reluctant to believe anything bad about your leaders.

    Also I’m wondering about the suggestion that if other people were fair and generous they would be just as hesitant. Such fairness and generosity in protecting those in power, and in upholding the status quo makes me very suspicious!

    ‘And as for the Rabbis… I think I detect they’re coming around…’

    You mean the moral and religious leaders of your community are just beginning to understand that sexually abusing children is a serious crime?

    ‘It can take a while for responsible Posskim to recognize that a molester is nowadays, for all intents and purposes, a “Rodef”, for which Messirah doesn’t apply.’

    So we need to be patient while we wait for our ‘responsible Posskim’ to come to the realization that nowadays it is a serious crime. Was it once not a serious crime? Do we now need to give these moral leaders time to morally evolve?

    ‘There ARE some “one-time offenders” that can be educated and rehabilitated, and will never transgress again. For those kinds, “Messirah” still applies.’

    Others have responded as to the practical consequences of adopting such an attitude. I’m only going to point out your continued ‘fairness’ and ‘generosity’ to these perpetrators. Please see this link to have an idea of the injury this kind of thing causes, because in the abstract its all too easy to play with halachic categories such as ‘rodef’ and ‘messira’.

    • Actually, the best way to make sure they do not re-offend is to have them under the supervision of probation/ sex registry/ threat of more serious sentencing on second offense. I defy you to prove that rabbonim have any success in preventing people from re-offending.

      TRUE STORY: An anti-abuse activist contacted a rabbi about a congregant who molested a boy. The rabbi assured the activist that he had the situation and he was keeping an eye out on the molester. However, the rabbi went speechless when the activist said: “Great, can you tell me where he is right now?”

      Rabbis are good at saying they are dealing with the problem. But is is just nonsense they spout, not something they can do, or even have the will to try and do. They just settle for a one-time shmooze with the offender.

      • CHASHDAN says:

        One time pedophile offenders are as rare as unicorns. Would anyone postulate that a rapist is likely to be a one time offender? Shall we watch and wait? Statistics on recidivism are staggering, and those statistics are limited to the perps (pervs) who are actually reported and apprehended. Pedophilia is not mononucleosis. It is a chronic compulsive ailment. ALL rabbis should automatically lose their smicha upon one documented case, and carefully monitored that they are never rehired or have any contact with youth., They should be listed on a Wall of Shame, just as exist for mesarvai getim (for agunot). These should be public lists, that anyone can search. And, as aside, if they are raping young boys, perhaps they are also incesting within their own extended famiies, particularly if their access to youth is blocked.
        Shamed in public. And , as for their families well life is never fair, and better to be a family member than a victim.

    • David says:

      Let me try to sum this up. (Because if this dialogue continues, I’m gonna have to make you my official “Pen Pal”…)

      1) Of course I favor “Fairness and Generosity” across the board.
      But I am also mindful of the Chazal that it’s wrong to be a “Rachamin” for an “Achzur”.

      2) The only “Das Torah” I respect is one that is not afflicted/tainted by complacency and politics.

      3) Being “Dahn L’kaff Zchus” and practicing “Lifnim M’shiras Ha’din” applies even more-so to Sages.
      (As per the Gemurah, and, as I recently saw, Sefer “Tomer Dvorah” Chapter 1 section 11.)

      4) But it can sometimes indeed sadly come to a point when I can no longer Judge a particular Sage/Rabbi favorably.

      5) The Torah leaders have ALWAYS considered abuse/molestation sinful and evil.
      But “Messirah” also applies to sinful and evil Jews… UNLESS they present a real danger to the public.
      The current controversy stems from the fact that abuse/molestation has only in recent decades been recognized as effecting long-term severe EMOTIONAL damage. So much so that a perpetrator is (often) to be rightly categorized as a genuine “Rodef”. (This is a relatively new “discovery” also for the Gentiles!)

      For all intents and proposes, this is a new paradigm.
      If I’m not mistaken, there were very few molesters in prison 40 years ago.
      (This does not, of course, include Rapists.)

      More proof? Again if I’m not mistaken, the Talmud or Shulchan-Orech doesn’t mention specifically Molesters as a Rodef, or deserving of incarceration and/or lashes.
      I believe
      a) In the “Olden days” human psychology was somewhat different. And victims of molestation were not so profoundly mentally affected/damaged.
      b) This is a main reason why the Rabbis are/were initially so skeptical and dragging their feet about this issue. (Including the Rabbis of Y.U.)

      6) I do indeed have feelings of “fairness” and “Generosity” towards the accused… UNTIL the allegations are proven. Then, at that point, my “sympathy” is greatly diminished…

      But please bear in mind:

      a) “Innocent until proven Guilty”.

      b) Even after guilt is established, one must not be penalized more than allowed/prescribed by the Torah.

      c) One must not be too hasty to classify somebody as a bona-fide Rodef/Molester. A real Rodef/Molester indeed needs to be rendered harmless with extreme prejudice. And if somebody is wrongly accused, or does not present an ongoing “clear and present danger”, then we must be mindful that a false or excessive conviction will cause (more or less) similar damage to the accused, and more importantly to HIS children, as the damage done to a victim of molestation!

      So I’m not saying that Rabbi XYZ is correct for dragging his feet.
      I’m just saying I can understand/fathom his reluctance to let “Goyim” make the determination.

      And I do not envy his task… He, the Rabbi, basically has to decide if Hashem obligates him to ruin the accused’s life, and the lives of his family, or to ruin the lives of the alleged victim and possible future victimized children.

      The stuff of nightmares!

      p.s. It’s ironic. When I personally came to believe that Weberman is Takeh guilty of such heinous acts… I breathed with RELIEF! At least this case was pretty much black-and-white.
      (Albeit my heart still goes out for his wife and children. As I’m sure does your heart.)

      p.p.s. Have a Ksiva V’Chasimah Tovah!

      • David,

        Indeed we will not settle this issue this year, or for that matter, next year. Let me add a few points in response to your comments.

        Indeed, allowing mesirah is not contingent on whether the offender is considered a good or bad Jew.

        However, also bear in mind the view of the Aruch Hashulchan and others that mesirah does not apply under governments which are not using criminal and civil law to extort ransom, particularly legal systems which are fair to Jews. This was clearly the view of the R. Moshe Soloveitchik and his son, the Rav, Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, and is the halachic view of the RCA, the OU, the Beit Din of America and the Israeli Dati Leumi community. While poskim in that world also adduce arguments about din rodef, they do not need to hold that view in order to support reporting abusers.

        R. Moshe Feinstein did indeed say that we do not moser when the government’s penalties exceed Jewish punishments. But for all his influence in other areas, that view of R. Moshe has not attained widespread acceptance.

        I am very leery of claiming that either there was less abuse in the past or it was less harmful. However, there certainly was less open discussion and full appreciation of the scope of the problem and the extent of the resulting harm.

        There is indeed a fifth shulchan aruch of seichel but there is also a sixth shulchan aruch of social pressure and favoritism. For example, let’s consider Rabbi George Finkelstein, the principal of YU’s boys HS. For about two decades he was grabbing students, pinning them to the floor or wall, and rubbing his erect penis against them. Let’s assume for argument’s sake that the YU administration did not recognize that this was not deeply or permanently harmful to the affected boys. Even so, how smart do you have to be to recognize that this is not the optimal religious education experience? How smart do you have to be to realize that allowing such znus is at least as problematic as routinely showing porn movies in class? Ditto for Yehuda Kolko at Torah Temimah, Rabbi Avrohom Reichman at Satmar, etc. Even without getting into mesirah, it was completely within the power of these institutions to fire the perverts. Any of them would have been quickly fired for handing out non-kosher food. Just for argument’s sake lets say the perverts were only doing acts of znus forbidden d’rabbannan and the non-kosher food was also only trayf d’rabannan.

        I would argue that for all the invocation of halachah, the protection of perverts is a compound of underestimation of harm affecting children and a social code of protecting your own from consequences, even when there is absolutely no question of mesirah.

        These days, baal tosif is one of the most neglected aspects of halachah. The frum world adopts new chumras faster than Vogue Magazine declares new fashion trends. Yet it is tardy about established halachah several decades old, which regards molesters as rodfim. Virtually the only hold-out on this trend is the late R. Menashe Klein (hakatan) who was respected as an extraordinary talmid chacham but never secured acceptance as a posek, l’maaseh.

        I too feel for the families of molesters (even when they have not touched their own children). I do not attack the families. But, nowhere else in orthodox life do offenders get a pass because exposing them will hurt their family. When Moshe Finkel was caught selling treyfeh chickens in Monsey, his wife demanded and got a get in less than 72 hours before he left the community in disgrace.

        One final matter is the mythical one-time, stoppable, offender. Science argues against the phenomenon except in the rare case of a teenager, himself victimized, who then imitates what was done to him. Caught early enough, someone like that is a great candidate for therapy. The courts treat such cases leniently favoring probation and treatment over imprisonment. Even in such cases, the threat inherent in probation contributes to compliance with a treatment regimen. Most adult offenders are driven by compulsions and rarely stop after one act. A parah adumah is rare and so to is a one-time offender. Yet the sixth shulchan aruch has elevated him into the prototypical offender till proven otherwise.

        The overwhelming majority of rabbonim who pasken in this area are amaratzim about the phenomenon of child sexual abuse. No one paskens kashrus on manufactured food products if they do not know how to read a list of modern ingredients. No one paskens shechitah if they can not pass anatomy 101. Yet, Haredi rabbonim issue lenient rulings about molesters faster than reform rabbis light fires on shabbos. This leniency, this distortion of the halachah of mesirah, is a scandal of major dimensions. The truth is that law enforcement has the competency to investigate and discard rare false charges; rabbis don’t. Rabbis hold onto the prerogative of investigating for all the wrong reasons; not because they are halachic but because they are locked into protecting reputations at the expense of children’s well-being.

  23. Escapee says:

    Sympathy for the accused’s family, in these discussions, is a complete red herring: it simply distracts attention from the real victim with a show of ‘moral shrewdness’ and ‘supreme sensitivity’.

    Try this thought experiment: your father molested children in his care and it is exposed. Surely it is his crimes that horrify you, rather than the fact that they were exposed? Imagine you one day learn that although many knew what he was doing, it was all kept under wraps for YOUR protection, and he was allowed to continue. Would one feel complicit? Guilty? Actually NO. I would recognize that the community was using me as an excuse to allow things to continue. I would not for one moment believe it was done out of sympathy for me.

    True sympathy for the family involves allowing them to distance themselves from the perpetrator. It means teaching your children not to blame the whole family for what one member has done. And, it means not prejudicing those children when it comes to marriage.

    It does NOT mean allowing the perpetrator to continue, insisting on an absurd amount of evidence and re-victimising the original victim.

    It seems in this paragraph:

    ‘a) In the “Olden days” human psychology was somewhat different. And victims of molestation were not so profoundly mentally affected/damaged.
    b) This is a main reason why the Rabbis are/were initially so skeptical and dragging their feet about this issue. (Including the Rabbis of Y.U.)’

    that you are positing a massive alteration in human psychology to defend rabbis reluctance to recognize such crimes. Just how far will you go to protect these glorified Rabbis?

    • I agree with your reactions to: “In the “Olden days” human psychology was somewhat different. And victims of molestation were not so profoundly mentally affected/damaged.”

      In the Olden days before Semmelweis, doctors in maternity hospitals moved from patient to patient without washing their hands because they thought new mothers weren’t affected by unhygienic practices. They were dying from some mysterious disease that was not understood. But now we know that they were dying from infections carried to them by doctors. Let’s get real. The biology of infection did not change. In fact, past halachic treatment of molesting was rooted in defective scientific knowledge. Right now there is no more excuse for continued willful ignorance. In the past is it was simple ignorance. Now it is malpractice.

      • Escapee says:

        Yerachmiel, I would actually go further and question whether the extreme wrongness of the act is just a function of its long term consequences. Perhaps it is only in ‘modern’ times that we have documented the life-long damage caused, but even without knowing that isn’t subjecting a child to such things (particularly in a community that so stresses modesty) just a heinous act? It is the ultimate example of the abuse of power as the child must submit his/her bodily integrity to the relevant authority.

        Actually it makes me wonder about the use of sexual abuse in forcing doctrinal submission in those who dare question their faith…

  24. David says:

    For the sake of expediency I’ll try to make this very short.

    For the record, I agree to (approximately) 95% of your views.

    BTW, I do have some proof/evidence that there is a factual difference between “nowadays” and the “Olden days”, (regarding the psychological effect of abuse) but I won’t get into it because a) it’s too lengthy, and b) it’s now irrelevant and anyway mostly inconsequential. After all, we are now dealing with “Nowadays”.
    The circumstances of yesteryear is now a moot point. (Except when there’s a need to convince wishy-washy leaders that times have changed…)

    I do not disagree that a dangerous molester needs to be dealt with harshly. And I do NOT propose leniency for the sake of his family.
    I only advocate extreme caution when weighing the evidence and the course of action. Any error can unfairly greatly harm the children of the accused.
    And the name of the game is, after all, protecting our children.

    I reiterate. I have detected a change in attitude (bit by bit) in the Heimish community. (At least in my own personal circles.)
    More people are beginning to comprehend the truth about the situation.
    More people are, slowly but surely, having a change of attitude about who are the “Good guys” and who are not. Who deserves mercy, and who doesn’t.
    And I give a lot of credit for that betterment to the crusaders such as yourself, Reb Yerachmiel. (and of course others, including Rabbi Horowitz..)

    Ah Gutt Ge’bentsht Yur!

    • I agree a false allegation is harmful but not nearly as harmful as an allegation that is not properly investigated. There is zero evidence that rabbis are competent to investigate. The mayvinim in these matters are the folks in the criminal justice system.

      I am not aware of a single instance of a Haredi in Brooklyn who was falsely prosecuted. I know of hundreds of cases where very credible allegations were brought to a rabbi and not acted on.

      There are two very different reasons why rabbis and askanim are such lousy investigators. One is the lack of professional knowledge and skill. But perhaps more important is negius. Virtually all those approached have personal involvements that generate a conflict of interest which leads to biased assessments.

      Worse still, in the process of investigating they muck up things for subsequent professional investigations. In many cases by the time a case reaches the Police or the DA, too much time has passed and too much evidence has been lost The most obvious example is DNA evidence from semen. Such evidence would make prosecutions a cinch. But it is almost never there if the DA is contacted weeks or months later instead of hours later.

      I agree it is a terrible thing to unjustifiably harm someone’s reputation. However, when a truthful accuser is maligned as crazy or malicious that is just as terrible.

      I go back to the fact that most accusations from the mouths of children are true. So, to minimize the risk of false accusations, the odds favor handing them all to the Police/DA and letting them make the determination.

      All other approaches are worse.

      • David says:

        Agreed! With the following exceptions:

        1) I think there ARE likely some qualified Heimishe Rabbonim somewhere out there. (Such as Rabbi Horowitz perhaps?)
        They are at least qualified enough to determine if “Yesh Raglayim L’dovor”, and if so should be handled by the secular authorities.
        Problem is, they are few and far between. And probably overwhelmed.

        2) The testimony of children remains somewhat problematic (if they are not yet Bar/Bas Mitzvah. Regardless how trustworthy they are.
        I too could claim that ” most accusations from the mouths of children” are also true when a 10-year-old states that Reuvein owes money to Shimon.
        Or that Reuvain killed Shimon.
        But bottom line, the Torah disqualifies testimony from any “Cheresh, Shoyteh V’Katan.” no matter the favorable statistics.

        But before your rebuttal, I want to add that I am indeed not sure if this comparison is correct. I’m not a Talmid-Chochom.

        My solution? Sorry, I have none.
        Which is why my personal feelings are that your “methodology” is currently the only one available to us. The lesser of all the ……

        At least we all agree that in a perfect world the Rabbonim would have the knowledge, experience and fortitude to effectively handle these issues, without ever needing to involve the Gentiles.
        THAT would be a worthy goal to strive for! (Wishful thinking, eh? But then again, I’m a hopeless optimist. Stranger things have happened…)

        BTW, I’m having 2nd thoughts about describing noble Jews like yourself and Rabbi Horowitz “Crusaders”.
        I meant that as a compliment, but perhaps that title is not the appropriate one, considering who the Crusaders were, and what they did.
        So I would respectfully like to replace that description with the title “Pioneers” and/or “Activists” aka “Askonim”.

        Kol Tuv.

        • Yesh raglayim as posited by R. Elayshiv draws on a rarely used talmudic phrase from Sotah, where the standards of evidence are way below those otherwise required. I don’t think Maran Elyashiv’s choice of words was accidental. For reporting harmful people to the secular authorities, we also allow them to use different standards. We are not dealing with malkis or capital punishment inflicted by beit din bizman habais hamikdosh. Again, the only person requiring 2 eidim over age of bar mitzvah was the late Menashe Klein (hakatan). His was a daas yachid, not accepted by others. In general, his lomdus was respected, but he was not accepted as a posek because he lacked the necessary temperament and social judgment.

          See my post: Rashba on Why We Use Civil Courts and Rely on Their Rules of Evidence.

          Rabbi Horowitz in communications with me and others makes it clear he does not consider himself either a therapist or a forensic expert. He does talk to victims. He sees himself primarily as an educator who does work on education on this topic, among others. I am sure that he can confirm for you that he knows of many cases of unreported abuse and hardly any of false accusations.

          I marvel at how the Haredi world in more liberal than the ACLU when it comes to accusations against their own.

        • I was also going to remark on point #2 there. First of all, there are certainly sources that allow relying on underage witnesses, as Yerachmiel pointed out.
          Additionally, the concept that most accusations of abuse are true is not simply some kind of chazakah that is equally applicable to anything a child says. It is based on research from the field. It is also based on the understanding that if a child is describing acts that he or she should not rightly know about at his/her age, that is a pretty strong indicator that something is amiss.

        • Thank you for pointing out that no one is saying we should believe everything a kid says. But in a properly conducted interview, kids, especially below puberty, especially if raised in a frum environment, just don’t generate lies about sexual interactions they have had with others. They just have no basis for generating such accounts. For them to be saying these things they must have been exposed to something.

          I say properly conducted interview. I mean an honest professional who asks neutral questions, creates a climate where they dont feel afraid to talk, and does not try to talk them out of revealing unpleasant facts. A competent trained interviewer in this area, elicits without biasing in either direction. Most untrained individuals start trying to coax the answer they want.Most rabbis and askanim hope not to hear bad news that will force them to take action. So often they will invalidate and discourage the kid who is reporting an episode and start massaging the narrative. when this happens, it becomes much harder for a professional who is following up to get unbiased accounts.

          All this is a long way of saying, keep rabbis and askanim out of the business of being first responders. There is only one correct rabbinical response to a kid with a complaint. “Let me help you talk about this with a police officer who will help fix this problem and then supporting the kid or his relatives in getting to the police ASAP.

          We don’t consult with rabbonim about calling 911.This is also sakkonos nefashos. When Hatzoloh or EMS picks up someone who is not conscious and they do not have a medical history, they will grab all the labelled meds they can find to help medical first responders figure out the health situation and current meds in the patient’s body. Imagine, someone deliberately altering those labels. It would be criminal because it could lead to a bad medical decision based on wrong information. When rabbonim get involved in investigations that much up the proper processing of complaints. Sometimes they kill the victim who gets safely protected from the abuser. Sometimes they kill another victim who would never have been abused but for rabbinical intervention that helped the abuser escape the criminal justice system.

          Of course, in theory there are one-shot, one-time-only abusers. But they are rare. The odds of any abuser, especially a frum abuser being caught are very low. I would estimate those odds at less than one percent for any particular act. So most of those who are caught have abused over a hundred times (not necessarily with a hundred victims, but that also happens). They got caught because even with those low odds if you do the same thing often enough your luck is bound to run out. Bottom line, very few of those accused are either one-time offenders or innocent.

          Most of the time, the falsely accused man or the one-time-only offender is a red herring invoked to avoid confronting abuse.

        • David says:

          I wasn’t planning to respond because of a) Time constraints, and b) You all are doing a great job making your points and expressing yourselves.

          I am inclined to agree with you now more than before. (Before it was 95%. Now it’s already 96% *smiling*)

          However, there is one possible flaw in your logical viewpoint:
          Call me paranoid, but you point out that a Rabbi’s interrogating a child could damage the testimony because the Rabbi is (usually) biased. (I would add… subconsciously.)
          But how about the Gentile? Whether it’s a cop, or Social-worker, or even the D.A.?

          We have a general Chazaka (“Halacha B’yudia”) that “Eisav Soneh L’Yaakov”.
          Very many (if not most) Goyim will derive satisfaction if they could accuse a Yid of being a pervert!
          At least on a subconscious level!
          I feel that a Goy likes to stick it to a Jew. Especially a Frum Jew that they take for granted generally feels “Holier than Thou”.

          Imagine even more, that this Gentile interviewer’s Priest was recently also accused of molesting a child.
          Now this Goy or Goy’teh is handling a case of an alleged abuse committed by a “Rabbi”. (If we have a beard, we’re a Rabbi…)
          It’s likely that, in the back of his/her mind, he/she would love to even the playing field.

          At least you gotta admit …. “Hey! You never know”…

          Therefore I would suggest that, in all cases, the first responder should be a licensed accredited experienced HEIMISHE Child-Therapist or Social worker.
          Such a person will tread carefully without any bias. (After all, both the accuser and the accused are Yidden.)

          What say you?

        • 1. Where do we see that a biblical statement, rendered by midrash constitutes a chazakah for halachic decision making?

          2. I am not aware of such systematic biases in the workers used for example by NYPD and the Brooklyn DA. If anything they are hyper aware that every charge against a frum Jew will lead to extreme scrutiny and political anger. If anything they are more vigilant about such cases.

          3. Only criminal justice agents have the necessary power to conduct investigations which involve cross checking facts not available to this hypothetical heimish social worker, and if necessary, seizing evidence.

          Why not just do things right instead of mucking up investigations. You are trying to solve a problem which does not exist, but creating new problems in the process.

          Rabbonim don’t diagnose cancer. They tell you to go to an expert in the area. If they don’t happen to have a particular physician or facility they know they just direct you to the facility most specialized in your location. They don’t tell you to use a heimish doctor only or first unless they have a specific reason.

          In most locations, the Police are the competent first line experts in these matters.

          Delays in diagnosing cancer or abuse can cost lives and lead to needless suffering.

        • David says:

          I appreciate your quick (if rather testy) reply. THAT’S what I call “service”!

          I’ll now respond “Ahl Rishon, Rishon. V’ahl achron achron”.

          1) I wasn’t referring to Halachah this time. I am neither qualified nor competent to render Halachic decisions. I could only ask questions and make suggestions.

          So I was positing a common-sense thought:
          You are concerned with a Rabbi’s possible/probable bias. I’m concerned with the Gentile’s possible/probable bias.
          Simple as that.

          2) I don’t share your “theory” that the secular NYPD appointed social-worker is wary of the likelihood of “extreme scrutiny and political anger”.
          Even if the Social-worker brings about a tempest, it’s really no skin off his/her nose.

          The Authorities might be concerned, but why should the Social-worker care?

          3) You may have misunderstood what I am suggesting. (Or perhaps I did a poor job in expressing myself.)

          Of course the case would ultimately be handed over to the official Criminal-Justice agents, who “have the necessary power to conduct investigations which involve cross checking facts … and if necessary, seize evidence”.
          But only AFTER the Frum professional (to whom the parents bring the child) concludes that the allegations ring true.
          Isn’t that precisely what happened in the Weberman case?

          According to what I read (I think by Rabbi Horowitz) Weberman’s victim did not report to the Police on her own accord.
          She was having a discussion with her School-Therapist (in her new school) and during her conversation she (reluctantly) disclosed her horrible experiences.
          It was the THERAPIST, after concluding that the girl’s accusations are believable, that reported it to the authorities.
          And, Lo and Behold! Weberman is indeed now in jail ! (Possibly till he dies.) The system works!

          I think THAT’S the way it should always be done.

          (And if the Accuser, or his/her parents, do first go directly to a Rabbi, then one would hope a responsible and Ehrlich Rabbi will immediately direct them to a Heimishe EXPERT.
          No delays.)

          I believe there are numerous such (English/Yiddish-speaking) experts listed in the Boro-Park/Flatbush/Williamsburgh phone-books.
          And they are, of course, mandated reporters.

          So where’s the downside?

  25. 1. The mental health worker in the Weberman case did not conduct an investigation; She heard the name “”Nechemya Weberman and she immediately contacted the police. She was placed with federation funding in a special school, she did not get an assignment to investigate abuse from a rabbi. She was paid with funds from a secular source.

    To make the issue simple, the biggest problem is not antisemitic public employees. The biggest problem is the antisemites inside the camp; the people who think it is a mitzvah to keep abuse concealed even if it means thousands of raped and molested Jewish children.

    You talk the talk about caring for children. They have been repeatedly failed by rabbis who investigate.

    It is just a matter of odds. How can it be that 99% of abuse reports that reach rabbis and heimish social workers never reach the criminal justice system. We know from research to well over 90% of such complaints are true.

    If you had a doctor who missed cancer diagnoses 99% of the time you wouldn’t kvetch about antisemites you would kvetch about a diagnostician who kills patients. rabbonim and heimish social workers are causing deaths by suicide and overdose. Than some of those same people have the chutzpah to schor for work with those kids.

    I think I have laid out my arguments. If you want to kill kids by sending them to the wrong problem solver, go ahead. Hashem yirachem if the one harmed by that approach is someone close to you.

  26. Escapee says:

    Again, this ‘there are two sides to everything’ thinking is preposterous:

    ‘So I was positing a common-sense thought:
    ‘You are concerned with a Rabbi’s possible/probable bias. I’m concerned with the Gentile’s possible/probable bias.
    Simple as that.’

    No, its not as simple as that. Yerachmiel has good grounds for suspecting bias. There is a long history of covering up sexual abuse in this community. Again and again these Rabbis have shown that protecting these children is of lower priority than protecting the image of the community and the good reputation of the accused. On the other hand you have no evidence of there being any anti-semitic bias in the minds of the secular professionals involved.

    Let me put this clearly: the secular professionals are not the enemies here and in this case – it is the peadophiles and those covering up for them that are the enemies. Why is that so hard to fully understand? They are the ‘Amalek’, they are the ‘nazis’. The best, quickest and most efficient way of ridding the community of them should be the first priority.

    If Judaism is to have any worth at all this should be understood. The worst irony is that the few rabbis who are making the most effort for this cause have been censored by the majority of rabbis. Rabbi Rosenberg who encourages the abused and those who know of abuse to contact the police has been banned from many synagogues and worse:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_abuse_cases_in_Brooklyn's_Haredi_community

    http://www.thejewishweek.com/features/anti_abuse_rabbi_says_he’s_danger

    David, you also write:

    ‘At least we all agree that in a perfect world the Rabbonim would have the knowledge, experience and fortitude to effectively handle these issues, without ever needing to involve the Gentiles.
    THAT would be a worthy goal to strive for!’

    Are your goals and values SO distorted. In a perfect world there would be no paedophiles; in a perfect world people would not take advantage of the power they have and prey on the weak. In a perfect world there would not be indoctrination – and no-one would think that the most sublime and worthy goal is never ‘needing to involve the gentiles’.

    And last, in a perfect world no-one would participate in this kind of conversation with such a casual attitude, and be content with random abstract speculation,

    ‘At least you gotta admit …. “Hey! You never know”… ‘

    • David says:

      Dear Escapee,

      This time I was really planning to discontinue this discussion, at least for a while. After all, everybody already “aired out” their thoughts and opinions.

      But it seems I unintentionally agitated you. So I will respond and try to placate you.

      a) You misunderstood again. (or I wasn’t clear enough again.)
      I did not mean to say I’m only concerned by the innate bias of Eisav.
      I meant to say I’m ALSO concerned about it, in ADDITION to the concern of possible/probable Rabbinical Negiya (bias).

      My point was that you guys only emphasize the Jewish bias.
      I want to emphasize the danger that Goyish bias ALSO exists. In heaps.

      My proof? A combination of Chazal, history and personal experience.

      b) I agree with everything else you wrote! …except that you portray most Chareidi Rabbis as some group of horrid monsters that wake up in the morning just eager to spread suffering.
      I doubt it.
      IMHO, these Rabbi are mostly misguided, unaware of the evil that they are inadvertently supporting. (And as I claimed early on, they now seem to be slowly coming around.)
      Let’s not forget, most of these Rabbis have children of their own too. I’m sure they eventually have to use their imaginations.
      As a matter of fact, I know one popular Grand-Rebbe whose own son was molested. Multiple times. (The molester was arrested.)

      You know, it took Yosef’s brothers, all great Tzaddikim, 22 years before they finally recognized that what they did “L’shem Shomayim” was really tainted by bias. (As explained by the Miforshim.)

      c) You are absolutely right! My statement was foolish.
      Of course in a perfect world there would be no pedophiles!

      I would like to amend my statement and say “In a BETTER world we would have competent Rabbonim, and a working system,that allows for excluding Gentile involvement”.
      So I’m a dreamer. Don’t sue me.

      Kol Tuv.

      • David says:

        p.s. “Random abstract speculation”? “Casual attitude”?
        What exactly would you like me to do?

        If Chas-V’Sholom one of my children or grandchildren would be molested, I certainly would not allow it to be swept under the rug.

        Oh, and btw, I did not contribute to Weberman’s defense fund…

        • Escapee says:

          In reply to your p.s.

          I illustrated what seemed to me to be a casual attitude, as well as vague speculation when I quoted this from one of your comments:

          ‘At least you gotta admit …. “Hey! You never know”… ‘

          You were talking about possible bias on the part of the relevant officials and to me this seems altogether tangental to the urgent matters at hand. But aside from that I was also wondering about remarks you addressed to Yerachmiel (whose comments are all empirically founded and suggest genuine involvement and concern). Comments such as I agree 95% or I agree 96% actually trivialise an extremely dire conversation.

          Also, this idea that nowadays child sexual abuse has more serious consequences than it once did truly minimises the immorality of this kind of thing; the way a powerful adult gets aways with violating a child’s body.

          Much of this may just be your style of writing as opposed to your real attitude, so guess what – I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt;)

        • David says:

          Thanks!
          “Tis’ the season” to give the benefit of the doubt.

          Ksiva V’Chasima Tovah!

      • Escapee says:

        Ok, I am placated:) and happy to leave the matter here.

        Of course anti-semitism is a concern; as is racism and also the contemptuous and dismissive manner in which ‘goyim’ are referred to (as if everyone non-Jewish in the world can be defined simply by a non Jewish identity!)

        I think the articles I linked to did indeed put a spotlight onto the most vile aspect of these leaders: they try to portray the one defender of the innocent as a snake; what, however, could be more reptilian than their own group actions?

        In all other regards they may well be Tzaddiks.

        Of course I merely jumped on your ‘perfect world’ phrase as a rhetorical device:) I do, however, genuinely question the ideal of a ‘system that allows for excluding Gentile involvement.’ But then, I suspect I value diversity far more than you do:)

        All of this though is far beyond the topic at hand and we must agree to differ.

        Kol Tov to you too!

        • David says:

          Thanks!
          “Tis’ the season” to give the benefit of the doubt.

          Ksiva V’Chasima Tovah!

      • In a better world we would not have cancer. But we have it. I see no problem using goyim to diagnose and treat cancer. Right now, a Jewish child’s best chance of being protected from rape and molestation lies in the goyish criminal justice system.

        It is a mitzvah for goyim to have a criminal justice system as one of the sheva mitzvos bnai noach. They are mechuvav to encompass arrayos. They are allowed to have all sorts of other laws. Yiddin are mechuyav to obey the law under dina dimalchusa dinah. It is befeirish in the shulchan aruch that a yid cannot bribe a goyish judge because of lifnei iver and goyim are mechuyav to have a system of mishpat. The sheva mitzvos don’t oblige goyim to offer cancer treatment and still we use them. As I have laid out, Yidden are less capable of self policiing molesting than they are at supporting patients in using medical resources for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

        Wish on all you want. In the meantime the plague of child molesting continues unabated. All the existing internal Jewish solutions are useful “vie a toite bankes.”

        At some point, just admit it. You are holding out for a non-existent theoretical possibility whose promotion is letting boys and girls get raped.

        I enjoy pilpul as much as the next guy. But pilpul is criminal when a speeding training is headed in your direction and you are using it to discourage someone from getting off the track.

        The gemarah defines a chosid shoteh as a man whose squeamishness about tznius prevents him from jumping into the water and holding onto a woman to pull her out from drowning. The kids are drowning and you are darshening pilpul about how it would be nice if we could pull them out the water without chas vicholilah touching them in an untznius or goyish manner. What next? Will you advise women in labor to not use a male goyish obstetrician. Sure a woman is better. But a trained obstetrician is better than using a heimish medic.

  27. adkanenough.com says:

    I have been following your comments back and forth and feel compelled to jump in here if I may.

    It seems to me that the bottom line is really quite simple.
    When scientists or researchers want to prove that something is true or false they conduct studies. The results of those studies are usually taken to be the correct outcome of whatever it was they were researching.

    In our case the question whether Rabbis are competent and whether they should be the “first responders” to a sex abuse complaint is really quite straightforward.

    Yerachmiel (and all of us who read and are knowledgeable about current events) has done his “research” so to speak. The facts speak for themselves. Hundreds of cases of alleged sex abuse complaints have gone unreported when left in the hands of either frum therapists (who are mandated Rabbi followers if they want to maintain their jobs in the community) or the Rabbis themselves.

    I cant see the problem here.
    When the day comes and hundreds of cases of abuse are reported and handled properly we will all know that the Rabbis have changed.

    Until then……..we call 911.

    Debbie

  28. David says:

    Yerachmiel, Debbie, (and Escapee)

    I would like to conclude by pleading “No contest”.

    In the last Emails you all 3 wrote, I found nothing that I disagree with. (Although I wish I would be able to disagree with your assessments proclaiming most, if not all, Rabbis to be incompetent in this issue. But I can’t. If it’s a fact, it’s a fact.)

    The only 2 things I slightly differ with you is:
    1) I would tone down the insinuation of the Rabbis being knowingly (and with malicious aforethought) pure evil monsters (regarding this topic).
    2) I still (naively?) think (hope?) there are now in existence Frum reliable trustworthy competent un-tethered Child-Therapists/Psychologists out there.

    Anyway, seeing as, at this point, we have concluded that we are all basically on the same page (although if anybody has more to add I’ll read it with great interest) I shall, for now, bid you Adieu.

    Have a great blessed year!

    • CHASHDAN says:

      David,
      I have stayed away from this discussion and even must confess that i have not OCD read every comment over the last many days (although i usually do).
      I have one point only to take issue, Re competent child-therapist/psychologist prepared to handle unknown numbers of abused children, or even adults with history of abuse from decades ago.
      And I write this with heavy heart. Most therapists (as most MD”s, lawyers accountants are incompetent, ) Statistics available upon request,
      But to get back to therapists, truly very very few know what to do with abuse cases whether children or adults. They do not even know what to ask, It is difficult enough to find a semi-competent therapist, without the added requirement of being competent to handle CSA or adults who went through CSA.
      Now, , to make it even more difficult, one might hope (but certainly not a requirement, in my mind not at all required, personal opinion) finding one of these CSA or PTSD highly trained therapists. A needle in a hay stack, And then try to get an appt. If you don’t believe me, call Weill Cornell (Payne Whitney) they have clinics they do experimental work, and also recommend therapists trained in this area, several websites. ptsd, trauma (they had experiment also for victims of 9/11 and one of the big names there is Ortho Yeshiva trained, big name in the field, Cukor (Judith, I think) call her see if she has anyone to recommend. She was very involved in 9/11 evidently and is totaly YU trained and Ortho i do believe, (if you can find someone who does that sort of recommending, difficult system to navigate). Takes fortitude. See how many recommendations you can get and if they give you three (non-ortho referals) dance with joy, and call, and find out that none of the three has openings in their schedule.
      On insurance sites, therapists check off dozens of areas of expertise, transvesities, bisexuals, ad infinitum most have at least a dozen areas of “expertise” checked off. (yup, you wouldn’t believe how many have experience with transgenders, transexuals et al.

      Finding a competent therapist in this area is a daunting task. And that is without requiring any jewish/ortho background. And the good ones (the tiny tiny few who are trained and competent have no openings in their schedules .

      So your hope is glass completely full, and i am a half empty person, maybe totally empty, but I know reality. And if the full extent of victims, hey, even 10% hits the “market” they will not find competent help. I absolutely guarantee you that, And i am just talking NY metro area (well, most victims….).
      Most who claim that they have experience don’t have a clue afilu what to ask.
      I have smicha in this area.. (and, btw, just as a derech agav, any therapist worth his salt today, accepts no insurance). But that is a problem for later. Finding someone competent trained and with experience is the major problem. Costs can be figured out, Maybe the Weberman defense fund has some residual money……
      I am speaking with authority here. feel free to question or challenge. (or privately, YL i give authority to give out my private email) or set up dialogue in any other manner. YL “knws’ who I am, sort of. As another derech agav, when i went through this exercise, it wasn’t even for CSA. It was for a one time one day surrealistic trauma, unrelated. But I am knowledgable about CSA therapists as well, This is the sad sad truth.

      Shana Tova u’metuka.. To you and YL an all of the other valuable contributors.

      • David says:

        Chashdan,
        Thanks for taking the time to write.
        The information you provide is very disheartening, but I’m glad for the “education”.

        It’s a sad time we live in.
        Abusers abound and there’s nobody Frum to turn to.

        Well, based on your statements, I must confess that it seems there is Takeh no alternative.
        If there’s a monster on the loose the only choice left (nebich) is Law-enforcement.
        Hashem Yirachem.

        However, seeing as I’m naturally compelled to seek out something positive, can I at least assume that due to the publicity of the Weberman case, and other cases, the stream of molesters has diminished?
        Can I delude myself into thinking that no NEW cases have turned up in recent months?
        Can I imagine that many would-be molesters have been scared straight lately?

        If I wouldn’t be Jewish, I’d keep my fingers crossed…

        p.s. I doubt there’s any available residual money in the Weberman defense fund. (as you suggested.)
        Last I heard, he is trying to raise more funds for his appeal.
        I know you were kidding, but I’m not. According to his Attorney they are really planning to appeal.

        Personally I think he might have a chance that the Court will reduce his sentence by half!
        In that case he could be released when he’s merely 104 years old…. (instead of 156.)
        (OK. This time I’m kidding too. What can I say. You sounded like you could use a smile/laugh…)

        On a more serious note, since we all expect Moshiach to be here way before Weberman expires, I Takeh wonder how Moshiach will handle Weberman, and others like him.
        (Will he be brought to Yerushalayim to finish his sentence? Will he be released to face worse retribution? etc. I speculate.)

        Hatzlachah Rabbah!

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