Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obstructing Justice?

By Michael J. Salamon, Ph.D.

In the United States any individual who works with children is required to report any and all suspected cases of abuse or neglect to the authorities. This reporting law was first formalized in the 1970’s. In many states the law also applies to those who work with adults. When reports are required they are made confidentially and are accomplished via a hotline call to a trained professional who will take the report and evaluate the best response. Responses can include involving the police, childcare services, other social services, or the report may be deemed not to rise to the level for an intervention.

Teachers, doctors, therapists and other childcare professionals are mandated to report what the law calls “any reasonable cause to suspect” abuse or neglect. If, as a mandated reporter, you are aware of such a case and do not report it you may lose your professional license and receive jail time. There are inconsistencies in how situations are handled by these agencies but it is never the responsibility of a mandated reporter to investigate a case nor to try and prevent further abuse. Professionals who work directly in human services are not the police nor are they officers of the courts. They do not have the resources to do the type of legal probing or intervention that the legal system is designed for. But, they do have the ability to see when there is abuse and do the correct legal thing despite any possible shortcomings that may occur after it is reported. And, virtually all shades of Religious poskim within the Orthodox world support the need for reporting cases of abuse to the proper legal authorities.

The Catholic Church has been accused over the last few decades of covering up cases of child abuse perpetrated by pedophile priests on young, mostly male, parishioners. The abusers were given free reign in some cases because people either did not believe that it could be true or were afraid of the repercussions if they did report. At this moment, the Church, as well as organizations within our own community, is fighting against extending the statute of limitations for reporting cases of child abuse. Clearly, these problems are not unique to those of the Catholic faith. Data reported from a variety of sources indicates that as many as one in 5 boys and girls are subjected to some form of sexual abuse in their childhood by teachers, family friends or relatives. And, yes, as we have seen, it does occur in all religious faiths. That is why I was so moved when I was invited to participate in a private conference in September of this past year that addressed sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community. Attendees included mental health professionals, survivors, their families and even the New York State Assemblyman, Dov Hikind.

The tone set at the conference was a determined one. All would be done to stop this horrific scourge from continuing. No school or organization would be exempt from confrontation if it were necessary to do so. In October, Mr. Hikind stated that he would “collect a list of suspected child molesters and make that list available to the public.” It turns out that the Assemblyman has recently been subpoenaed. He has collected, by his own admission, over 1000 dossiers involving some 60 names of pedophiles and according to rumors, has not yet reported a single case to the authorities nor has he released a single name to the public. He has made a statement indicating that someone who admitted to him that he recently abused a young boy was referred to a top mental health professional for treatment. The subpoena came not from the authorities but from an attorney representing individuals who were themselves abused. There are interesting inconsistencies in this situation. It may be true that Mr. Hikind is not a mandated reporter, though several legal sources have been quoted as indicating that he might be. But, even if he is not, the treating specialist to whom this individual was referred is mandated to report. Additionally, it is also problematic that the Brooklyn D.A. has apparently not seriously looked into this very same issue though some news reports are suggesting that there are 10 cases currently under review by the D.A.

While Mr. Hikind’s approach is troubling to some perhaps there is a better explanation to this perplexing and painful drama. This approach that Mr. Hikind is employing may be a plan to allow the authorities, the trained legal and child welfare specialists, to find a way into this morass and finally do what is necessary to stop pedophilia. By going public, even in a limited fashion, abusers have been put on notice by Mr. Hikind and so have the authorities. It is a fact that the proper treatment for a child molester is not limited to psychotherapy and possibly medication but also includes constant supervision and monitoring. The proper legal authorities are the only ones who can enforce this requirement. Now that the situation has become so glaringly obvious, there can be no excuse for both the community and the authorities not to follow the proper legal and clinical protocols, unless, of course, there is a massive cover-up. It is time to accept the problem and work within the system not around the system. As Mr. Hikind has himself indicated, it is time to change the “Out of sight out of mind” mentality that allows abuse and molestation to continue.

This brings me to a related issue. There had been some debate regarding whether Halacha allows Mesira or the notification of secular authorities. It has taken some time but, as I have noted, virtually all of the Halachic decisors now agree that in cases of suspected childhood sexual abuse there is no excuse not to involve the police and courts. Also, despite a recent setback, the courts in the United States and Israel are working together on several cases to make sure that extradition is enforced when necessary. And, the recent conviction of an abuser in Federal court indicates that the community can work with the authorities. Interestingly, the application of these decisions to allow the notification of the authorities may have also led to a remarkable misuse of the law.

The Courthouse News Service of October 29, 2008 reported that a man is seeking five million dollars in damages for defamation against the rabbis at a suburban New York Yeshiva who wrongly accused him of pedophilia. According to the complaint, the rabbis allegedly slandered him because they did not approve of his lifestyle. Both the Police department and office of child welfare investigators found the complaints made about him by the rabbis to be baseless. One would hope that the rabbis would find it appropriate to file a complaint to the authorities in cases where there is evidence and the authorities perform their investigations diligently. All of this covering up has to be done away with. Mr. Hikind is performing an admirable task by taking up the issue and confronting it but without proper reporting and follow through with the legal authorities there can be no enforcement.

Dr. Salamon, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, is the founder and director of the Adult Developmental Center in Hewlett, NY. He is the author of numerous articles and several psychological tests. His recent books include, The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures, published by Urim Publications and Every Pot Has a Cover: A Proven Guide to Finding, Keeping and Enhancing the Ideal Relationship, published by Rowman & Littlefield.


"I had no concept that this exists in the world"... Mrs. Friedman.

I urge everyone to see the entire documentary; the impact it had on me is indescribable !



Zalkin Law Firm said...

New York Jewish Rabbi Sexual Abuse Attorney

Rabbi Abuse Lawyer in California

Sexual abuse in religious communities has been reported in the media for years. In any community or group, sexual predators can target young children to criminally assault and abuse. Abuse reports in the Jewish and Jewish Orthodox community have been present for years. Similar to Catholic priest abuse, many of the survivors of sexual abuse were not able to come forward for a long period of time due to shame, regret, fear or other similar feelings. Any survivor of sexual abuse deserves the ultimate justice. Child sexual abuse and assault is a crime that can affect the sufferer for years or even a lifetime. There is no compensation for the loss of innocence at the hands of a Jewish rabbi or member of the clergy. But, the New York rabbi abuse lawyers at the Zalkin Law Firm can help you to finally bring justice to your abuser(s).

If you or a loved one was sexually abused by a rabbi, you might feel like you are completely alone in the world. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, there are many individuals just like you who have gone through similar experiences in the Jewish and Jewish Orthodox community across the country.

The Zalkin Law Firm has successfully represented survivors of rabbi abuse – and they can help you.

California Jewish Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorney

Within the Jewish community, sexual abuse has gone unreported and unpunished. There are cases of pedophiles in the Jewish clergy moving around from school to school, community to community, and leaving a trail of sexually abused children behind them. Some of this abuse was isolated and occurred only once or twice. Some instances lasted for years, well into the adulthood of the survivor. Both situations of sexual abuse are very damaging and can result in years to a lifetime of emotional and physical struggles and hardships.

With the help of a California/New York rabbi abuse lawyer at the Zalkin Law Firm, you can take legal action against the individual or institution that was responsible for your abuse. No man or woman should ever go unpunished for such monstrous crimes against children.

Contact a New York/California Jewish Clergy Abuse Attorney at the Zalkin Law Firm if you or a loved one has been sexually abused by a member of the Jewish or Jewish Orthodox clergy.

Chicago Rabbinic Council said...

1] Situations where actions are taken which endanger, OR the person has reason to believe they are in danger of injury (physical, psychological, or sexual) the victims are encouraged to contact the police.

2] The targeted victim does not have to wait to see whether the threat materializes, they are encouraged to call 911 as soon as the concern arises.

3] Those who encourage, aid, plan, or provide material support in the commision of a crime share the category of criminal. The same laws apply to them as well.

As capable and caring as the rabbinate is in matters of Judaic Law, we are not knowledgeable in crime prevention. The onus is on the individual to contact the police in situations of criminal activity.

The Chicago Police Department requested the community to be reminded to call 911 for situations requiring an immediate response.

For Pollce Services

. When there is a crime in progress, or has just occured
. When there is an immediate threat to life or bodily injury
. When there is major propefty damage or loss due to crime

May everyone enjoy a safe, happy, and Kosher Pesach!

"Burrow Pork" said...

a previous commentator suggested comparing harlem to "burrow pork" to which i say its closer than you might imagine. think about all the similarities chasidim share with your average harlem resident (i.e. african-american). 1. they are both night owls 2. they both overly-enjoy the Cadillac Escalade. 3. they both are famous for their respective "soul food". 4. both parties have either really fat or really skinny members, no in between. 5 the welfare comparison is too easy but it counts 6 neither has paid a tax since their ancestors came to this country 7 both wear some sort of sneaker on an everyday basis(plain black new balance is hot)8 barely speak english 9 always roll with posses 10 last but not least, both appreciate a large woman.

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...


Please --- even the leitzonus has parameters.

Torah Temimah Bus Driver said...

Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn - Associated Fress

An eighth-grader was suspended from riding the school bus for three days after being accused of passing gas. The bus driver wrote on a misbehavior form that a 15-year-old teen passing gas on the bus Monday to make the other children laugh, creating a stench so bad that it was difficult to breathe. The bus driver handed the teen the suspension form the next day.

Anonymous said...

please tell me what is the scandal with telz

Anonymous said...

telz had many scandels . which one u reffering to?

Frankel's shul mizrach shvantz said...

Moshe Rubashkin is now in Jail in OTISVILLE FCI


Inmate Locator - Locate Federal inmates from 1982 to present
Name Register # Age-Race-Sex Release Date
1. MOSHE RUBASHKIN 56932-066 50-White-M 04-12-2010 OTISVILLE FCI

Harav Lippy Margolis said...

I believe that Hashem's Torah Temimah.

But, I don't think it's Machkimas Pesi.

These yeshva goilem's are as stupid as the Hunks who send their kids to Yudi's playground!

Anonymous said...

reffering to the cases of molestation

please also let me know whats going on with the financial side

they just came to me for a donation
i said i would only give if they had no molestation cases

i would like to verify that

It's a good thing Leib Pinter is headed up the river said...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI is bracing for a wave of fraud and corruption cases stemming from the government's multitrillion-dollar effort to get the economy moving again, the agency's chief told Congress on Wednesday.

The expected surge in economic crimes will place further strain on an agency already stretched thin as it investigates mortgage fraud, terrorism and corrupt politicians, FBI Director Robert Mueller said.

"Our expectation is that economic crimes will continue to skyrocket," Mueller said.

Mazel Tov said...


Lifting the Veil of Silence
By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

There is an issue that has been on my mind for several years. It is an extremely sensitive topic and I tried writing about it many times but couldn’t find the right words with which to express what I wanted to say in a way that would be beneficial and adhere to standards of derech eretz and fairness.

I have discussed my predicament with many gedolim and they all encouraged me to write about it here in the Yated and said that Hashem would help me find the proper voice.

The sad fact is that children in our community are being abused by perpetrators who prey upon their innocence and our silence. We don’t have a count of how many people are hurt, but it is much larger than we realized, even a short time ago. There is no real debate about the catastrophic effects of abuse.

The innocence and purity of children is destroyed for life. The victims remain hurt, shamed and scarred. They suffer in silence, afraid to reveal their secret to anyone. They are hounded by feelings of guilt and embarrassment and live lives of tortured pain. The overwhelming majority of survivors suffer in silence, unless they are lucky enough to endure agonizing, arduous, expensive therapy. However, even a lifetime of therapy doesn’t ensure that the victim can ever be fully healthy again. Not every young victim’s psyche can be healed. Victims are much more likely to go off the derech, become addicted to drugs and lead a life of abusing themselves and others.

Let us be clear: For too long, we weren’t tuned in to these innocent victims’ stories and their pain. For too long, we weren’t sufficiently aware that this problem existed and thus were able to ignore the quiet pleas, the sad eyes, the pained lives, and the personalities withdrawn. We didn’t recognize the warning signs and thus largely ignored the phenomenon. Equally clear, this inattention was not a function of some high level conspiracy to harm people or cover up for criminals or abet nefarious activities. It was simply a function of a lack of education about a complex and highly sophisticated problem. It was a result of our leadership simply being unaware of the depths that such sordid people could sink to, and the extreme skill perpetrators exhibit in covering their tracks. And yes, it was undeniably a gezeirah, which, as so often is the case, claims innocent holy souls - bikroyvai Ekodeish.

I am all too aware that it is fashionable in certain circles to blame this all on our rabbinic leadership. These people have yet to explain why our rabbonim, who devote their lives to serving people, would want to hurt anyone. The days when being a rov or rosh yeshiva meant strictly paskening shailos or teaching Torah are long gone. Rabbonim routinely spend an overwhelming portion of their time dealing with every type of personal problem imaginable. I don’t have to elaborate on this now, but suffice it to say that it defies logic to accuse our most choshuve leaders, who exhibit much mesiras nefesh, of coldhearted indifference. As I said, the problem was a lack of understanding.

Those days are behind us. We understand our challenges now and we have to live up to them. There are many things we have to do to help prevent future cases. In fact, in recent years, much has been accomplished. It would probably surprise some of the critics to know that in the past five years, the Vaad Roshei Yeshivah of Torah Umesorah has devoted many meetings, encompassing scores of hours, to these issues. As one who regularly attends these meetings, I can tell you that no single subject has been discussed in greater length and depth, in excruciating detail, than preventing abuse. Many sophisticated guidelines and programs have been designed and disseminated in all our schools. Implementation has not been universal, but we have clearly begun to turn the tide in the school area. I will devote another article to detail some of these efforts. Today, I want to focus on the topic I began with - the innocent victims.

We almost never do anything for these victims. We look at them as small children. We don’t peer into their little hearts. We don’t follow up with them. We don’t do anything to assuage their piercing pain and harrowing hurt. Usually, we don’t know who the victims are, for their parents are petrified lest they be stigmatized for life.

They go through life distressed and tormented, and the fact that they think that we don’t care adds insult to injury and makes the wounds that much more difficult to heal. They think that if we would know what happened to them, we wouldn’t respond with compassion and love. They think that the world around them would turn a deaf ear to their cries and be uninterested in their stories.

So they go through life feeling isolated, betrayed and abandoned. It is about time that as a community we join together and shout out to them that we have been silent for too long. We have been oblivious for too long. And we are going to do something about it. This is what we say:

“We realize it wasn’t your fault. We realize you didn’t do anything wrong. We realize that you were singled out for punishment due to no fault of your own. We realize you were taken advantage of. We love you. We care about you. We are here for you. We will listen and we will hear. You are not alone.”

We have to get a message to the children who have been wronged that they don’t have to resort to drugs or worse to cleanse themselves and restore their self respect and self worth.

How do we get that message across? Neither by being quiet, nor by being shrill. First we strengthen those groups in our machane who are devoted to counseling and aiding victims. We tell the victims they are innocent; we feel their pain and are here to help them. We prove that by continuing to implement parent and community-wide education and prophylactic programs to prevent future horrors. Above all, we deliver the message by living lives of Torah - a Toras Chesed and Toras Emes - by being kind and compassionate to all. We do it by not embarrassing anyone and not jumping to conclusions about the reasons people act the way they do. We must conduct ourselves to all with true love and compassion. We should treat victims like brothers, without prejudice, never knowing what pain and hurt lies in their hearts, forcing them to act the way they do.

One thing is clear: silence is acquiescence. Silence permits the affliction to fester. We must be prepared to lift the veil off the more embarrassing goings-on in our communities so that we rid ourselves of evil and malice and the pain they cause. We will thus be preparing the world for the coming of Moshiach and the erasure of all tears.

boog said...

Lip shits, you Frum elitist Borsalino-wearing moral coward;

Let me ax you uh question:

Why did you decide to come out of your Groundhog bunker now?

You mean to say in all these years as Editor of the Yated, knowing fully well what was going 'down',
in the Yeshivas, Homes, and Mikvahs, aware of the D-ASS Toiyrah cover ups and obfuscations which enabled the molesters to continue to destroy Yiddeshe neshomas, you didn't say one frickin' word.

Now? you take to pen and paper at the behest of and with the "moral" sanctioning of the same culpable D-ASS Toiyrah feckless Rabbinic 'Leaders' who all need an Eglah Arufah for Atonement, and robe yourself in the mantle of Tzidkus and trailblazing moral leadership?

Adaraba, you have continuously written Page-3 editorials sermonizing to your Readers on the importance of building people up by eschewing Loshon Hora, Mesirah, and Sinas Chinum which further pushed the Molestees and their suffering families back into their dark cold closets.

You had a moral responsibility to be at the front of the line with UOJ, not a Pinny-come-lately much like the Nesiyim who were the last ones to bring materials for the building of the Mikdosh.

Who knows how many jumpers, drug overdozers, etc. could have been prevented if you would have used your very influential position and voice to show moral courage on this issue.

Look down at your hands Pinny; there is Jewish Blood on them.

The only plus is: Better Late Than Never. But it's time now for you to get your pen out of your Tush and STOP already with writing the mushy pablum crap above and do two things:

1. Come out now forcefully and continuously for passage of the Markey Bill in your Editorials.

2. Put the spotlight on the Zwiebel, R' Perlow, and the Agudah to fall in lockstep with this program.

It's the least you can do.

We'll be watching.