Agudah Follows the Romans For the Same Dirty Reasons

Zweibel and Cardinal

David Zweibel of Agudah and Cardinal Dolan

Only two important groups stand in the way of strengthening legislation against child sex abusers in New York State: the Roman Catholic Church and its pipsqueak partner, Agudath Israel of America (aka Agudah).

Both groups decry sexual immorality, preach protection of the weak, and rhapsodize about their children. Yet they both have long, ugly histories of helping their molesters escape prosecution and financial reparations.

In 2010, Governor Andrew Cuomo badly wanted to legalize gay marriage in NYS. As always, the obstacle was the lobbying of the RCC and Agudah. So he cut a deal with them. They would denounce the act but not pressure legislators. In return they got his off-the-record promise not to extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse. Instead, NYS would continue to have one of the shortest SOL’s in the US, requiring survivors to file criminal and civil complaints before their 23rd birthday.

Most survivors need more time before they are ready to confront their own demons and take on their abusers. He also protected them from what they feared, a window allowing survivors to sue for abuse that happened before the SOL’s were changed. Such windows expose abusers and force culpable individuals and institutions to compensate victims. They are embarrassing and costly for institutions that long covered up abuse, such as yeshivas, camps (e.g., Camp Agudah), and the RCC.

That deal has stuck. Every year since then, SOL reform legislation gets passed in the NYS Assembly and dies in the NYS Senate. Last year Cuomo promised to get such legislation passed. But it again died in the legislature. When Cuomo really wants something, it gets passed.

It seems to be happening again this year. A bill passed by an overwhelming margin in the Assembly and various SOL extensions are proposed by senators, but none seems likely to succeed. All sorts of spurious arguments are offered. The RCC and Agudah insist it would cost too much to comply and would bankrupt their institutions. As Marci Hamilton points out, the only bankruptcies were engineered by Catholic dioceses to shield assets. I have no doubt, that if a window is opened for suing for abuse in the past, some yeshivas and camps will also try to go down that route. Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz in fact floats the idea of exempting institutions with new management. He conveniently ignores how easy it is to change the formal management while leaving the same players and beneficiaries behind the scenes.

If you are upset about all this, contact Governor Cuomo and your NYS senators and let the know this is your big issue. Unless they are committed to get an SOL reform passed, let them know you will vote against them in the primaries and elections if they fail this test. Act now because there is only about a week before the legislature goes into recess on June 23.

Governor Andrew Cuomo:
Fax:(518)474-3767
Tel:(518)474-8390
email: gov.cuomo@chamber.state.ny.us
web: http://www.state.ny.us/governor

HOW TO CONTACT YOUR NYS SENATOR: If you don’t know who your senator is, go here to find out. But don’t waste your time on a written message if you can spare 5-10 minutes to call. That has much more impact. So now go to this site to find your senator by name. Click on their name, then on their contact tab. They will list their offices and their phone numbers. For good measure, call all their offices. Then get ten of your friends and family to do the same. There is only one thing certain about 99% of politicians. They want to get reelected. Let’s make them earn it.

Join the Protest Against Agudath Israel’s Protection of Child Sex Abusers on Sun. 6/25 @ 3 p.m. in Midwood, Brooklyn.

This event, which I heartily endorse, was announced on the Hareini blog of frum anti-abuse activist, Asher Lovy. It is sponsored by Zaakah, the group that organized the protest against the pidyon shvuyim fund raiser for now-convicted child rapist, Rabbi Nechemya Weberman.

Agudath Israel of America (aka Agudah) continues to deter reporting orthodox sex abusers by misrepresenting the halacha and claiming one must always consult with a rabbi before reporting child sex abuse to the police. In an unholy alliance with the Catholic Church they lobby state governments to make it hard to prosecute and sue abusers. In his post, Protest Agudah’s Abuse Enabling and Opposition to SOL Reform,” Asher lays out the case against Agudah.

Novominsker Rebbe

Novominsker Rebbe – Yaakov Perlow

I have often written about Agudah’s disgusting culpability in protecting those who desecrate our children with its horrendous effects on child victims, and adult survivors. In fact, I stumbled into blogging because I was angry enough to write a trenchant satire of an imaginary Agudah speech on abuse (Moetzes Gedolim Speak About Znus Affecting Children) This was back in 2009. Since then they have actually openly spoken about abuse. While their speeches have not been as funny, they have been as evasive and destructive. See for example the most recent speeches by the head of their moetzes (Council of Torah Sages), the Novominsker Rebbe, Yaakov Perlow.

This must stop. But it will only happen when enough frum Jews let Agudah know they want the change. Save the date, help share the message, and take the time to attend this protest in Brooklyn.

Be there at 3 PM on June 25th, at 1146 East 9th street in Midwood, Brooklyn, 11230

Below is the full text of the original announcement of the protest:


Author’s Note: Here is a link to the protest event, which will be taking place at 3 PM on June 25th, at 1146 east 9th street in Midwood, Brooklyn: https://www.facebook.com/events/1861272087529969

Agudath Israel, headed by Chaim David Zweibel, as been opposing and lobbyig against the Child Victims Act, which would protect children from sexual abusers by eliminating the Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse. Currently, according to the New York Statute of Limitations laws, child sexual abuse survivors can’t prosecute or sue their abusers in court once they’re older than age 23.

According to many studies, it takes, on average, between 10 and 30 years for victims to even come forward about being abused sexually. Agudath Israel, the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, and Chaim David Zweibel know this, and yet they continue to oppose legislation which would eliminate the Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse, and open a 1 year retroactive window for old cases, thus allowing survivors of child sexual abuse to get justice from their abusers and the institutions that protect them.

Furthermore, it is the official policy of Agudath Israel of America, The Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, and Chaim David Zweibel, to forbid victims of child sexual abuse and the parents of victims of child sexual abuse to go immediately to authorities to report child sexual abuse. They require that victims and their families first consult a rabbi who can choose whether or not he wants to give them dispensation to go to the authorities.

This law is not just grossly illegal, but it also ensures that coverups continue unchecked in the Charedi community that constitutes Agudah’s base. Thousands of children are put at risk, and scores of abusers are protected, by this policy. Abuse is routinely covered up, and abusers are routinely protected by this policy as a matter of course.

That’s why ZAAKAH will be protesting outside of the house of Chaim David Zweibel, 1146 east 9th street Brooklyn, NY 11230, at 3 PM on June 25th, to send a message to him, and the other members of Agudath Israel of America, that they don’t get to escape the damage they’re causing by supporting these harmful and illegal policies. Their policies continue to make homes and communities unsafe for victims of child sexual abuse, so we’re bringing the issue to their homes and communities, and confronting them there where they can’t avoid it.

The only way we will ever truly end child sexual abuse in the charedi community is by making Agudath Israel of America, headed by the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, and Chaim David Zweibel, change this harmful, illegal policy, and support legislation that will end the Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse, and give existing victims the window they need to get restitution for their suffering from the people and institutions that abused them.

For more information, please contact Asher Lovy at Asher@Hareiani.com.

Cuomo’s Rapidly Changing Stance on SOL Reform

scales of justice and childThis morning’s (5/19/16) New York Daily News ran a headline, “Gov. Cuomo will push law allowing child-abuse victims to seek justice as adults.” The URL tells a different story about his position when they first created the article: “http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/gov-cuomo-pushes-liquor-law-reform-ignores-child-sex-abuse-vics-article-1.2641982.” Its seems the spirits have moved the governor to a new public stance. Continue reading

Rabbi Blau on Why the SOL Should Be Extended -From the Archives

First posted on 3/8/13

Text of Statement to Hearings of the New York State Assembly, Committee on Sexual Abuse, March 8, 2013 by Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani (spiritual adviser) at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University. The Committee hearing were devoted to the Child Sex Abuse Act (CSA) to extend the Statute of Limitations for filing criminal and civil cases beyond the current limit of age 23. The CSA is also know as the Markey Bill after its sponsor, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey. 

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak on behalf of survivors of abuse who suffer from the present statute of limitation; this statute prevents them from starting criminal and civil proceedings against their abuser and those who covered up and protected him.

My name is Rabbi Yosef Blau. For more than two decades I have been supporting and advocating for survivors of abuse, particularly within the Orthodox Jewish community.  During these years my understanding of the trauma and its ongoing consequences has grown from conversations with the survivors and reading the literature.  Most of the people who have contacted me are adults who are first confronting abuse that occurred during their childhood.

Twenty three and a half years ago I was part of a rabbinical court that dealt with an accusation of slander.  A young man accused a rabbi [Boruch Lanner], who worked as an educator and youth leader, of sexually abusing teenagers; that rabbi sued the young man.  Naively we restricted testimony to events that had taken place during the last ten years.  Few victims came forward and they found it difficult to testify.  Soon after, I received a number of letters from survivors clearly describing acts of abuse done to them by this rabbi fifteen and twenty years earlier.  Only as adults, having had extensive therapy and in many cases a supportive spouse, were they able to openly confront their abuser.  When they were adolescents he seemed all-powerful. Continue reading

Yom Hadin: Judgment Day in Australia for Malka Leifer’s Sex Abuse

Malka Leifer

Malka Leifer

In 2008 the management of the Adass Israel School (AIS) in Melbourne, Australia learned its principal, Mrs. Malka Leifer, was sexually abusing teen girls including manually penetrating them. Fearful of the police, they convened a group including Rabbi Zvi Telsner of the Chabad Yeshivah Centre and decided to cover up the crimes and whisk Mrs. Leifer out of Australia. Within days, they paid some $ (AU) 8,000 to ship her and her family off to Israel. There she remains, fighting off Australia’s request to extradite her to face criminal charges.

While the extradition demand wound its way through the Israeli courts, a victim sued AIS. Just after Rosh Hashanah the court awarded the victim  $(AU) 1,024,428 ($US 734,310 ). This includes “exemplary damages” (aka punitive damages) of $(AU) 100,000.

Expensive judgments are the looming nightmare of institutions that cover up sex abuse, as well they should be. By rights they should have prevented or stopped abuse. When they fired an abuser they should have made sure s/he did not move on to another job. They should have protected other children by reporting an abuser to the authorities. Continue reading

New Jersey Is Our Friend- from the archives

If it's to Jersey, It's Federal!

If it’s to Jersey, It’s Federal!

(First posted 9/12/12)

I have said many insulting things about New Jersey over the years. I take them all back. When a menuval from Brooklyn takes a child to or through New Jersey to sexually abuse him or her it becomes an interstate crime and therefore a federal crime. Now the victim can approach the FBI and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) will prosecute the case. All of us in the advocacy community are impressed by the Feds’ honesty and competence in investigating and prosecuting cases. Thanks to the Feds, Yisroel Moshe Weingarten will probably be taken away from jail by the chevrah kadishah (burial society).

The feds also came to the rescue after a lenient sentence for former Ohel Children’s Home employee Andrew Goodman. According to the New York Post

A Brooklyn child molester who was recently given a two-year prison sentence by a judge in a shocking sweetheart deal was smacked today with federal charges that could lock him up for life.

Unrepentant perv Andrew Goodman — who creepily told his trembling teen-age victim “I love you” at his July 12 sentencing before state Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy — was charged by the feds with having sex with the same boy in a New Jersey hotel room in 2010, then taking him to a Kid Rock concert in Atlantic City. Continue reading

2014 in Review: The Ups and Downs of Child Protection

Professor Marci A. Hamilton Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Professor Marci A. Hamilton
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Professor Marci Hamilton (Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law) just posted her annual review. It covers a range of topics including law, policy, legislation, scandals, awareness within different religious groups and more. She also spans the continents. Check it out.

In her review of  Statutes of Limitation (SOL) she writes:

This is a true case of some states moving forward, while a handful like New York are stuck in antiquated laws that only help perpetrators and institutions that cover up for them. New York yet again stayed firmly mired in the five worst states in the country for victims’ access to justice. The Republican senate has failed to act, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ignored the issue. Continue reading