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...“When you’re abused as a child,” says one of my clients, “and you grow up to be an adult, and you know the man who violated you was never punished, the violation never leaves you. You’re never whole. People,” he adds, meaning his coreligionists, “have got to understand that.” Or, as another victim put it: “Every day that the perpetrator is living openly, knowing that nothing is being done to him, that no one cares, is another day of being victimized all over again.”
My connection to these people is inseparable from the theme of continuing victimization. The man my clients accuse of abusing them – a Hasidic psychologist/school administrator named Avrohom Mondrowitz, who won the trust of the Brooklyn Orthodox community with the title “rabbi” – has remained unpunished for over twenty-five years. Though authorities believe Mondrowitz sodomized or otherwise abused hundreds of Orthodox Jewish children in the early 1980s, not one of their families reported him to police.
After the parents of a few non-Jewish children (who were also allegedly abused by Mondrowitz) did press first-degree sodomy and child abuse charges against him, Mondrowitz fled the country in December 1984 and reappeared in Jerusalem, where he lived undisturbed for the next twenty-three years. Technically he was a wanted fugitive – but at the urging of the Orthodox Jewish community in both countries, legal authorities were content to leave Mondrowitz a free man until steadily mounting public pressure resulted in his arrest in November 2007.
In fact, if rabbinic leaders had had their way, he would never have been arrested. “It was a long time ago,” was how one prominent rabbi responded, as recently as the summer of 2006, to my suggestion that Mondrowitz should face prosecution. “What for?”...