Levi Moscowitz’s Suicide

Levi Moscowitz took a plea bargain and got a 1-day jail sentence for arranging to pay a father to allow him to have sex with his two children. The supposed father was a cop. After his conviction Jewish Community Watch (JCW) posted information about his crime including a police transcript of his arrangements for the rendezvous. Within a week he committed suicide, hanging himself in a park.

Now the recriminations have started. Some are blaming JCW for the suicide which they say was precipitated by the “Wall of Shame” posting. Others are talking about the fact that he wanted to rehabilitate himself and was just despairing over his ability to control his behavior and get help. Some are saying, “but he did not actually molest children. After all” they say, “he was arrested before he did anything.”

I think people are confusing the tragedy of a suicide with the question of how to properly respond when we discover people committing sex crimes. Yes, every suicide is a tragedy. Yes, it is quite possible that the public exposure pushed him over the edge. Yes, perhaps he was at the point where he was ready to enter treatment, stick with the treatment, and change his behavior.

However, I believe that Jewish Community Watch acted responsibly when they put him up on their Wall of Shame. All they knew when they put him up was that others needed to know about his history to protect themselves. They did not do it to hound him to his death. Most sex offenders do not commit suicide when exposed. Most don’t feel deep remorse. Most do not rehabilitate themselves.

As I think about the tragedy of Levi’s suicide I think of all the survivors of sex abuse who succumbed and committed suicide. Many more victims commit suicide than perpetrators.

Some people claim that most abusers were themselves abused. That is not what the research shows. In fact, Victor Vieth points out that convicted offenders often invent abuse to garner sympathy. If being abused leads to abusing we would expect females who are abused at much higher rates to themselves become the majority of abusers. But women abuse at much lower rates.

Yes, some who are abused become abusers. That is tragic, but we cannot end that cycle in the rare cases it occurs, by letting abusers off the hook. This is not about revenge. It is about justice to keep our children safe.

For the sake of justice his abuse should have been publicized. Those who were close to him should mourn this tragedy. But they should not expect a retreat to the old days when cases were covered up because of reputation or damage to the family of the victim, or even because of the risk of suicide.

The blood of abusers is not redder than the blood of their victims.

UPDATE- 1/15/15– Some people are saying that Levi Moscowitz committed suicide because he was exposed as a sex offender on JCW. They claim he was subsequently denied an aliyah for his birthday. But I have never known frum shuls to deny aliyot to sex offenders. I do know of Chabad in Melbourne denying aliyot to Zephaniah Waks because he dared to support his son in reporting his molester to the authorities.

If it is true that he was denied an aliyah, it is probably because he was exposed as a porn actor, a male escort and someone who frequented prostitutes by Luke Ford on December 26th. Sadly, the haredi community regards child molesting as an impulsive misdeed for which claims of regret are enough to allow rehabilitation. But openly embracing sex with men is unforgivable, especially when done publicly. Nothing can be more public than being a porn star. In fact, only with porn videos do you have actual proof of intercourse, a biblicly forbidden act.

 

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20 thoughts on “Levi Moscowitz’s Suicide

  1. This is bizarre. He had a one day jail sentence for arranging to molest two underage children??? OK, that is stunningly outrageous.

    This vile piece of crap saved the criminal justice system time and money. Kol Hakavod to JCW. I, for one, would be very grateful if others (all) of Levi’s ilk follow his lead.
    Thank g-d thank g-d, he saved many young children from abuse by self destructing.

    Again, though, YL can you explain the one day jail sentence???
    Permit to corrupt children??? Whatever could the court have been thinking???

  2. Similar outpourings of anguish & recriminations occurred in Australia a few days before an alleged pedo allegedly committed suicide before his committal hearing. The motives are varied: some want to put the genie back in the bottle, some don’t believe the offences occurred or minimise them to almost zero, some worry about chilul hashem, some leaders want to continue running the situation the way they always have. Many otherwise sensible people worry profusely about the effect of criminal exposure on the perp & his family, to the extent of inaction etc etc.

    Past & (almost certain) future victims never really enter into the equation…

    • So far, in almost every discussion about sex abuse that I’ve had within my community, somebody always brings up the possibility that the accused is innocent and that he and his family will be embarrassed . You know the concept, ” Da Mah Lehoshiv L’Apikorus”? I wish I had a set of clear talking points in my head so I could calmly and rationally respond to this sort of thing. Of course, rationality may be irrevelant, because some people probably just want to maintain the status quo at all costs.

      • Bingo Sheri! “some people probably just want to maintain the status quo at all cost”. This desire is based in many cases on the (misplaced) fear of the answer to the question: “if someone who acts, learns,davens etc like me can do these terrible things, what is (my) Yiddishkeit worth?”, which is in turn based on an idealised misunderstanding of our religion. It was pointed out to me just last week: Yiddishkeit provides a strong, enabling framework (for morality, good living etc), it does not guarantee it (eg the Ramban’s “novol bi’rshus hatora”).

        • Well said. Thank you for that. I like it better than the “don’t judge Judaism by the Jews” argument.

    • I do for noble and ignoble reasons. Call me a liberal wimp but I do not believe in the death penalty or prison rape to punish sex offenders or torture, etc. My less noble reason is that suicides are used to claim the criminal was unfairly hounded. It just makes it a little harder to get people to accept the necessity of prosecuting and publicizing sex offenders.

  3. UPDATE- 1/15/15- Some people are saying that Levi Moscowitz committed suicide because he was exposed as a sex offender on JCW. They claim he was subsequently denied an aliyah for his birthday. But I have never known frum shuls to deny aliyot to sex offenders. I do know of Chabad in Melbourne denying aliyot to Zephaniah Waks because he dared to support his son in reporting his molester to the authorities.

    If it is true that he was denied an aliyah, it is probably because he was exposed as a porn actor, a male escort and someone who frequented prostitutes by Luke Ford on December 26th. Sadly, the haredi community regards child molesting as an impulsive misdeed for which claims of regret are enough to allow rehabilitation. But openly embracing sex with men is unforgivable, especially when done publicly. Nothing can be more public than being a porn star. In fact, only with porn videos do you have actual proof of intercourse, a biblicly forbidden act.

  4. Levi Moscowitz committed suicide because he had a mental illness and that illness won. You cannot blame the fact that he had to face the consequences of his actions (being on the JCW wall of shame, being denied an Aliyah, spending a day in jail (I will not comment on how sick that sentencing made me)) on what he did. We look for blame because no one wants to admit that we failed him by not providing him with the help he needed. I do not believe that all abuse victims become abusers or that all abusers were victims, but I do believe based on what I read in the police report that Levi Moscowitz was a victim of abuse.

  5. Levi acknowledged in emails to the undercover cop that he had previously sexually assaulted at least two 7 year-olds (one as recently as the beginning of 2014). The police report indicates that Levi was treated for HIV shortly after his arrest:

    1) http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2014/12/prominent-chabad-hasid-convicted-of-trying-to-have-sex-with-minors-gun-possession-123.html

    2) http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/files/police-report-levi-moscowitz-.pdf

    3) http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2015/01/levi-moscowitz-found-dead-123/comments/page/2/#comments

    Given all the above and the improper acts of the community fixers who kept Levi out of prison, there was no choice but to publicize the ongoing danger Levi posed. Levi’s blood is on the fixers’ hands.

  6. Do one always believe in all police reports? Did anyone ever ask if he was coerce, or not, into admitting he had abused minors? Would one not embellish story in order to attain a goal? I for one don’t believe in all reports until I get to the real truth. No one knows the truth other than the people he confided with under no duress. People jump into conclusion each time they see or read things. What happen to objectivity? No one knows the complete truth. No one could judge anyone except his Maker. No one’s sinless to rightfully condemn him especially the community that he so loved. He got caught in a sting operation. And I thought, human as we are, we get tempted. Some not strong enough, give in to temptation. Some remain just in thoughts and words, but all the same sins. Human as we are, we are entitled to second chance/s, repentance, atonement which one would decide how. All i could say, this community killed him. With regards to his porno gig, what the world know is a partial truth. Levi as I know him is genuine, caring, honest to at fault, and generous more than anyone would ever know. Requiescat in pace my friend. Away from all the tormentors that haunted you. Real people will miss him dearly especially those that are dear to him.

    Bob V., roommate
    Glendale, CA

    • Did you read the internet correspondence he had with the big bad “sting” person??? If you had a child of either sex, would you want this ex-scum-of-the-earth, anywhere near your kids?
      “Got caught in a sting operation” ??? Surely you jest. He can do teshuva in his next gilgul. maybe. The earth is a far far better place with the Levi’s of this world gone. I don’t care a bit about any early childhood extenuating circumstance. Even, afilu, if his was awful. People have free choice to overcome. Levi gave in to his disgusting perverted lusts. B”H he is gone.
      Imagine, please, BOB V., imagine, what was going through his mind when he typed his messages to the “father” the “sting”. He had those words, those awful horrific words, staring him in the face. No shame, (no fear) lust came first. Not to talk about spreading HIV. Your friend was the scum of th earth.
      I feel compassion for any relatives, parents, who survived him. given the assumption that they themselves do not share his awful perversions.

  7. How to deal with sex offenders is a very vexed issue in all communities, but in some Orthodox communities more so. . What should religious communities do if one of their members in an offender? What would be considered ‘best practice? This question is answered in an article that genuine expert Victor Vieth wrote in relation to child protection polices for faith communities. The article was published by the Lutheran Church. Point 7 deals with church policies for sex offenders seeking to attend services or join a congregation. Point 7 not only dictates that congregation members be told when a member is offender. It also lists a range of protective steps that should be implemented to protect children of the community from an offender,

    Child Abuse – The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

    • For anyone who might wonder why something on a non Jewish website is relevant:
      1. Victor Vieth is a former prosecutor of child sex abuse cases who is now engaged in training attorneys and others on these issues. He has spoken across the country, including at Yeshiva University.
      2. These issues are sufficiently similar across various religious groups and other institutions that the experiences and policies of a religious group can be a useful reference as other groups formulate their policies.

      Here is the link to the article written by Victor Vieth which vresofsky referred to:
      http://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=3223

      It is one of the resources on this page:
      http://www.lcms.org/socialissues/childabuse

  8. My personal thought – From everything I have learned I would say that having so much shame and remorse that a person actually wants to die is the best thing his neshama could have experienced before standing before bais din. Most pedophiles don’t seem to ever reach any level of remorse, just denial, and I can only imagine it makes any sort of tshuva virtually impossible. He seemed to be more of a sick pervert who hoped to keep his actions away from his family and friends and couldn’t deal with the facts coming out.

    • Sick pedophiles never feel remorse. You can therapize them upside and downside, and their sickness remains. They are all narcissists and asocial antipats. The sickness reigns supreme. In my humble opinion, in many cases , sex (as most define it) has nothing to do with their aberration. Nothing whatsoever. What possible perversion would cause this Levi to desire seeing a boy and his sister engage in sexual relations. What a blessing that he is gone, because psychotherapy has not reached the point that it can reverse the horrific brain dysfunction.

      CW, yes, perhaps, that was the primary motivating factor.
      as you write. Seems as if his communication with the “sting” has disappeared? I can no longer find it?

      I find it extremely difficult to believe that most, or all of “our” ortho pedophiles are sick to the same degree. i.e., they have taavot, and wish to fulfill them, and the hell with ramifications on young yidden. sheesh, it’s a part of the culture, they’ll get over it?????????

      Truly, do the most extreme of them really think? Do they ever think, even contemplate for a moment, the effect on their victims?? Do they feel that they are just “initiating them” as perhaps??? perhaps happened to them? Is it considered a cultural thiing amongst ultra charedim, so that the abuser, feels, zero remorse???

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