RABBI Yossi Feldman, former president of the Rabbinic Council of NSW, told the Royal Commission today that when he was 33 years old in 2002 he didn’t know it was illegal for a man to touch a child’s genitals.
In another day of testimony that was baffling, almost unbelievable and surprising, Rabbi Feldman said that he hasn’t had formal training in spotting or dealing with child sexual abuse because he hasn’t had the time and a lot of it is common sense.
When explaining why he didn’t stop alleged child abuser AVL, who’s name has been withheld from the public, Rabbi Feldman said he didn’t think about the secular law and only the Jewish law.
The Counsel assisting the Royal Commission then asked the following question.
You know there had been touching? Yes
Had been massaging a child? Yes
You know he is your relation? Yes
You know a complaint has been mad? Yes
You know it is about to be reported to the authorities? Yes
You knew one of the things that might occur is a complaint would be made to the police? I didn’t know the seriousness of the legalities of these issues and I didn’t know if that was a criminal matter. I didn’t know much about sexual abuse at the time.
You know when you had a conversation with AVL that he admitted to you the physical contact and laying down with a child could be a crime? I don’t know what the criminal code is and what is a crime. A lot of things could be a crime.
And she continued.
After the conversation with your father you have a one-on-one conversation in which you learned that he lay down with a child and massaged the child? Correct
You know now there has been physical contact? Correct.
You know from that conversation that a complaint is being made about the abuse? Correct.
He went on to say: “I strongly feel form a Jewish perspective it (laying down and massaging a child) was wrong, but I wasn’t looking from a legal criminal perspective,” Rabbi Feldman said.
And then when Counsel asked if Rabbi Feldman knew it was illegal for an adult or teacher to law down and massage a child he said: “It could potentially be something that was highly inappropriate. I did not know what a crime was. In Japan, I heard they allow child pornography.”
Later during Rabbi Feldman’s testimony he said that he tried to stop a press release by the rabbis asking for victims to come forward and go to police because it would negatively impact his friend, and now convicted child sexual abuser, David Cyprys.