Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Talk about a Chillul Hashem

Here are two articles from the local papers in NJ regarding the child abuse problem in the Lakewood community. There is no bigger “Chillul hashem” in the world, as to the secular media discussing how rabbis protect molesters. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

I really don’t get it! What’s the difference between a murderer and a molestor? Can someone educate me? Would you hesitate for one second in giving up a murderer? Our kids are not worth as much as a 40 year old man who got killed? I really don’t get your way of thinking? This is SHFICHAS DUMIM at its worse and there is even a debate if you can go to court? Why don’t you wait till the murderer kills at least 50-60 people, so we know FOR SURE that he really is a murderer? You see: after 10-12 killings lets just send him to Bet –Din and they will counsel him, advice him, rehabilitate him and get him back to mingle with society, and THEN if he kills 20-30 more than lets send him to court. But not after ONLY 10-12 killings send him to Jail. Come on! We must follow the Torah! Do I sound like a moron? I HOPE SO! Hence, you see exactly what you guys sound like!
Ok read on guys, I must take a break I am having palpitations!

Sex abuse cases must be reported to law enforcement
For too many years, cases of child sex abuse in Lakewood's Orthodox Jewish community have been handled internally by religious leaders rather than by law enforcement authorities. Consequently, victims have been denied justice. Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford has called this unacceptable status quo "the wall of silence." Despite the promises of religious leaders to work more closely with law enforcement, there is evidence of a widening rift within the Orthodox community.

As reported in Sunday's Asbury Park Press, some believe that a father who reported the possible sexual abuse of his 11-year-old son to police, rather than seeking permission from rabbis to do so, had committed "a terrible deed. "Nine Lakewood rabbis signed a proclamation this summer instructing people to bring allegations of abuse to a rabbinical tribunal before going to the police. Nonsense. These tribunals lack the investigative wherewithal and any judicial authority to handle such cases. It could be argued that those who would espouse such a course of action are missing any sense of justice. But more to the point, the crime of child sexual abuse is so vile, by any standard, that there should be no negotiating on how the Orthodox community handles it. According to state law, the crime must be reported to secular authorities.

The Prosecutor's Office must continue to hammer home the fact that this failure to report such crimes is in itself illegal, notwithstanding the so-called cleric-penitent privilege. Surely, most in the Orthodox community understand that adults are entrusted to keep children safe from harm. Statistics show that child molestation is no more common in Orthodox communities than elsewhere. But when sexual abuse is covered up or seen as unworthy of reporting to secular authorities, the damage to the child — and to the credibility of the faithful — is incalculable.

"Orthodox community deals with sex abuse,"
Far too often, cases of sexual abuse are handled internally through a rabbinical tribunal that routinely handles civil disputes but deals with possible cases of sexual abuse as well. The Orthodox community lacks the investigative and judicial powers to issue sentences, weed out false accusations and monitor offenders.

The most the rabbinic tribunals can accomplish is to urge therapy for the abuser. That's not justice for the victim. And it may be against the law. A therapist in Brooklyn's Orthodox community for more than eight years who has treated sex offenders referred by Lakewood religious authorities said he could not recall one instance when a rabbi referred a case to law enforcement officials.

Religious authorities say they do what is necessary to rid the community of sex offenders swiftly, but it is typically done outside the framework of secular law. The rabbinic leaders must send an unequivocal message to the Orthodox community that incidents of sexual abuse must be reported to the appropriate authorities. And that point must be reinforced by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

First Amendment freedoms to practice one's faith are not absolute, particularly when it puts the most vulnerable citizens at risk for irreparable physical and emotional harm. One would think that a community dedicated to Torah law would recognize the limits of that law in dealing with criminal matters and welcome the legal means to get child sexual abusers out of their communities and into the arms of the law.

State law requires anyone with "reasonable" suspicions to report acts of child abuse to the police or the state Division of Youth and Family Services. That law runs up against a different law, the Cleric-Penitent Privilege, which requires clerics such as rabbis to keep privileged any communication made in confidence unless both he and the person who did the confiding agree to release it or the information pertains to a future criminal act.
Given the rate of recidivism among sex offenders, a single confessed incident of abuse can reasonably hint at an ongoing pattern of abuse with a widening circle of victims. This sounds remarkably similar to Catholic priest scandals, where pedophile priests were counseled and transferred without ever facing the law.

If, as Job says, it is God who "reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light," then those who believe in him must do the same work of bringing light out of the shadows. Secular law has the means to do just that and the rabbinic leadership needs to encourage members of the community to speak up without fear.
If the Orthodox community believes that playing cases of sexual abuse so close to the vest is a proper response, that's beyond troubling.

Lakewood! you make us proud!

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