Thursday, January 29, 2009

U.S. Investigates Los Angeles Archdiocese Officials

JANUARY 29, 2009


LOS ANGELES -- Federal authorities are investigating the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles to see whether top church officials tried to cover up the sexual abuse of minors by priests, said a person familiar with the matter.

A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas and begun calling witnesses in the probe, which began late last year, said this person. The investigation is still in its early, fact-gathering stage, and it isn't known whether any criminal charges will result.

Thomas O'Brien, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, declined to comment on the investigation.

J. Michael Hennigan, a lawyer for the archdiocese, said in an email on behalf of church officials: "The Archdiocese has received requests from the U.S. Attorney's office for information about a number of individual priests, two of whom are deceased; none of whom remain in ministry. We have been and will continue to be fully cooperative with the investigation."

Cardinal Roger Mahony, who heads the archdiocese, the largest in the U.S., has been criticized by victims' groups for his past handling of sexual-abuse allegations against priests. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office has been investigating allegations of such abuses for several years.

District Attorney Steve Cooley criticized the archdiocese in 2007 for its "institutional moral failure" to "supervise predatory priests." A spokeswoman for the district attorney's office said their investigation is still open.

Catholic Church leaders said they have done much to address the priest sexual-abuse problem. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example, set up a national review board in 2002 aimed at "preventing the sexual abuse of minors in the United States by persons in the service of the Church," according to the organization's Web site. Individual dioceses "have made significant strides to instill practices that will ensure the safety of children in the church," said the organization's Web site.

The district attorney's investigation began in 2002, around the same time that internal archdiocese emails about priests accused of abuse surfaced in the media.

Over the following two years, dozens of alleged victims stepped forward, with many filing lawsuits. They claimed the archdiocese shielded priests accused of molestation by keeping the allegations secret and allowing them to keep working, sometimes moving them from one parish to another.

In 2004, the archdiocese, which covers three Southern California counties containing more than four million Catholics, issued a report on the priest sex-abuse scandal. Cardinal Mahony apologized to victims and acknowledged "my own mistakes during my 18 years" as the archdiocese's leader.

In 2007, the Los Angeles archdiocese agreed to pay $660 million to 508 alleged victims, among the largest settlements in the U.S. priest scandal.

No senior Catholic Church officials have been criminally charged in the national scandal. But representatives of abuse victims alleged that senior officials helped perpetuate the crimes by ignoring or covering up evidence of misdeeds. They have argued that prosecuting senior church officials would help stop future abuse.

"Everything else has been tried with minimal impact except charging an individual bishop. That would have to an impact," says David Clohessy, national director for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a nonprofit victims-advocacy group based in Chicago.

A spokeswoman for the Catholic bishops conference said her organization has seen no evidence that senior church officials were involved in criminal acts. "Enormous strides have been made" in recent years by the Catholic church in dealing with the priest-abuse problem, she said. More than 1.8 million clergy and other church personnel have been trained to create a safe environment for children and to prevent abuse, she said, and a similar number of background checks also have been done on clerics and other church workers.

The federal investigation in Los Angeles is the latest chapter in government's efforts to grapple with the priest-abuse scandals in the Catholic Church that have struck in waves over the past three decades.

{"OY! Such a headache - much bigger than the first one!"}

Numerous individual priests have been criminally charged and convicted in abuse cases, and Catholic dioceses around the U.S. have agreed to settle civil lawsuits.

While most of the investigations have been done by state and local officials, federal investigators also have gotten involved at times. In 2005, the Archdiocese of Boston resolved a federal criminal investigation into whether the church officials had withheld information about an allegedly abusive priest. The archdiocese, which denied any criminal wrongdoing, agreed to new disclosure requirements and audits regarding its child-protection practices.

Write to John R. Emshwiller at john.emshwiller@wsj.com

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Molestation is rampant, It’s not a one-in-a-million case. There’s at least one in every school!"

New York Magazine - May 15, 2006

........“I too was molested by Rabbi Kolko,” he wrote, “both while a student in 7th and 8th grades and during those same summers whilst a camper in Camp Agudah. . . . He would insert his hands down the front of my pants and would begin to ‘search around,’ to say the least. At the same time he would pull me closer to himself, or would push himself forward against myself, sometimes even pushing me into the steering wheel, to the point that it hurt. Unfortunately I didn’t react or complain. I of course told my parents and tried on several times to explain to them what I was going through, but they didn’t want to believe me and my ‘stories,’ etc. So I just shut up and let the molestation and perversion continue. . . . I feel that it is about time that the wall of silence be torn down.”

A few months later, after getting dozens of similar comments and e-mails, UOJ listed Jeffrey Herman’s name and phone number. He says he hadn’t spoken with Herman—he’d just noticed him as a guest on The O’Reilly Factor, talking about a clergy sex-abuse case, and thought that anyone reading his site who wanted confidentiality might consider calling him. “The key for me,” UOJ says, “was that on his Website, Herman said that he had strategies for getting around the statute of limitations.”

UOJ posted Herman’s name and number. When Herman, in turn, sent an e-mail saying he’d be happy to speak with alleged victims confidentially, Framowitz saw the posting and called him. Herman, an observant Jew from Miami, has handled millions of dollars in sex-abuse claims against clergy and school systems, mainly against the Catholic Church. He says he was interested in working on Jewish cases for the same reasons he works on Catholic ones. “People say, ‘Oh, are you gonna go after a rabbi?’ ” he says. “That’s kind of a funny question to me. I see the kind of work I’m doing as protecting kids. Jewish kids are certainly as worth protecting as Catholic kids.”

On February 2, UOJ paid for a bulk mailing to Orthodox homes in Borough Park, Flatbush, Williamsburg, and Crown Heights that might be too observant to have access to the Internet. The mailing accused Kolko of molestation and Margulies of a cover-up and even included their phone numbers. That’s when UOJ says he started receiving threats—“We’re gonna get your family” and “We know who you are.” (Many of these e-mails have been forwarded to Herman.) People accused him of betraying his community and having an ax to grind against Kolko and Margulies. The Jewish Press ran an editorial blasting the mailing. A rival blog called End UOJ was created. But the most shocking responses came from those who believed that accusing Kolko of abuse—true or not—was worse than the abuse itself. “Certainly speaking evil of somebody, truth or otherwise, establishes the most severe of all wrongdoings,” one pseudonymous comment on UOJ reads—“far, far worse then [sic] ‘child sexual abuse,’ and the punishment far more severe.” The post goes on to claim that having sex with a child is punishable by 39 lashings “at the most,” whereas lashon hara is punishable by leprosy—“a far worse penalty.”

Now that there’s a lawsuit, UOJ feels vindicated. “Molestation is rampant,” he says. “It’s not a one-in-a-million case. There’s at least one in every school. And I’m going to go after them one at a time."..........



Teen sex rap for principal of Bensonhurst private school

Monday, January 26th 2009, 12:46 AM

Two teenage boys told cops they endured years of sexual abuse at the hands of a Brooklyn high school principal who was arrested over the weekend, police said.

Emanuel Yegutkin, 30, was suspended Sunday from Elite High School, a private Jewish school in Bensonhurst with mainly Russian-American students.

Yegutkin forced a 17-year-old into lewd sex acts from the age of 7 to 14, cops said.

He subjected a 19-year-old to five years of fondling, beginning when the teen was 12, police said.

Neither child attended Elite, school officials said.

"This has nothing to do with the school," said Elite High School Headmaster Tzvi Koff. "But we have to protect our students. He no longer has access to the school building and he is not part of our institution anymore."

The disgraced educator - who also worked in upstate Gilboa as a lifeguard at Oorah summer camp last year - was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and sexually abusing children for more than a four-month period, according to a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney's office.

A message left at Yegutkin's Ocean Parkway home was not returned.

Oorah Camp Director Elisha Lewenstein said Yegutkin came highly recommended.

"We investigated him before we hired him and never had a complaint," Lewenstein said.

Yegutkin, a one-time rising star within the Orthodox Jewish community, lost a second prominent job yesterday: volunteer medic for the Flatbush Hatzoloh ambulance service.

"If anybody in Hatzoloh is accused of any criminal issue, we suspend them until the issue is cleared up," Hatzoloh spokesman Heshey Jacob said.

Yegutkin "suspended himself" when he was contacted yesterday, Jacob said.

Yegutkin's arrest is the latest blow to Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish community. Since October, at least four Orthodox Jewish men in the borough have been charged with sexually abusing children.



Emanuel Yegutkin was also employed at Oorah's summer camp as a lifeguard!

Via E-Mail From Eliyohu Mintz Of Oorah.

We are shocked and saddened by the unfortunate news about Emanuel Yegutkin, who was an employee of Oorah’s Boy Zone for the past two summers. During the time that Mr. Yegutkin worked at Boy Zone we received no reports of improper behavior or anything that would have raised even the slightest concern. We have not been informed by law enforcement officers of specific details or heard of allegations of any incidents in Boy Zone.

However, we take this matter extremely seriously and have offered our full cooperation to the authorities in their investigation of this matter. We wish to reiterate our zero tolerance policy with respect to behavior that may endanger children. Our first concern is, and always be, the safety of the children entrusted to our care.


Statement Issued by Elisha Lewenstein, Camp Director of Oorah

Lakewood, NJ, January 26, 2009-- Following is a statement issued by Elisha Lewenstein, camp director of Oorah, Inc., regarding news about one of its former volunteers:

"We are shocked and saddened to hear about the allegations involving Mr.Emanuel Yegutkin, who was one of 400 volunteer staffers at our Upstate New York camp. Our primary concern has always been, and remains, the safety and well being of the children entrusted to our care.

"Oorah has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to any improper or illegal behavior by staff. That is the way we have run our camp since it opened and that is the policy we will continue to abide by in the future.

"None of our children ever complained about the conduct of Mr. Yegutkin and we have no reason to believe that Mr. Yegutkin did anything improper while at our camp. Obviously, we hope that this remains to be the case through the course of the police investigation. "We will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement officials in their investigation.

"Since this is an ongoing investigation, we will reserve further comment until more facts about this case become available from law enforcement officials.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Way To Go China!

The court has tried 21 suspects on a range of charges related to the tainted milk scandal [Reuters]

Chinese milk scam pair face death

Two men have been sentenced to death by a Chinese court after being convicted of playing a key role in a tainted milk scandal that led to six children dying and 300,000 falling ill.

The two men facing execution include Zhang Yujun, who was convicted of making and selling more than 600 tonnes of "protein powder" laced with melamine, the industrial chemical responsible for the health crisis.

He was found guilty of endangering public safety. The second convict was not named by court officials on Thursday.

The former boss of bankrupt dairy giant Sanlu, one of the main firms at the centre of last year's scandal, was jailed for life in a series of verdicts handed down by a court in Shijiazhuang, the capital of the central Hebei province.

Tian Wenhua was convicted of producing and selling fake or substandard products, charges to which she had pleaded guilty.

China's toxic milk scandal

Melamine is a toxic industrial chemical normally used in plastics and fertilisers.

Investigations showed melamine was added in the supply chain to make diluted milk's protein levels appear higher.

Nearly 10 per cent of milk samples from China's top three dairies were found to be tainted with melamine.

The contamination was blamed for the deaths of six infants and for making some 300,000 more ill.

Products from more than 22 Chinese companies were affected, with recalls issued across China and for Chinese-made products around the world.

The convictions follow the trial of 21 suspects accused of involvement in the scandal.

Three other former Sanlu executives were given sentences of between five and 15 years, while another man, Zhang Yanzhang, was given a life sentence, also for endangering public safety.

Tian, 66, pleaded guilty late last month to charges of producing and selling "fake or substandard" products after infant formula was found to be contaminated with the toxic chemical.

She had admitted that she knew of problems with her company's products for months before informing authorities. The scandal was exposed in September.

State media reported that Tian could face the death penalty, but her lawyer Liu Xinwei was quoted earlier this week in the Beijing News as saying that capital punishment was not applicable in the case.

"According to the criminal law, there is no capital punishment for the crime of manufacturing and selling fake or substandard products," Liu said.

"Therefore, the most severe penalty for her would be life imprisonment."

Aside from the four former Sanlu executives, 17 others had faced prosecution, charged with producing, adding or selling melamine-tainted milk to dairy companies, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Our Guest Ariel...

January 11, 2009. Day 16 of the War in the South
Bet Shemesh, Israel.

Our Guest Ariel...

Today I met with Ariel Yered. He's nine years old this week. He was sitting in a class of enthusiastic kids from Shomria, now relocated to the Ramat Bet Shemesh Community Center. He's a small blonde kid, frail looking, with glasses. There's a teacher at the front of the class, and another teacher with Ariel, sitting by his side.

The international media barely mentions that Hamas has been firing mortars, rockets and missiles at Israeli civilians for "eight years". That eight year barrage started with Ariel.

On April 3rd, 2001: Ariel - then a 15-month-old baby boy - was severely wounded in his head and spinal column from the shrapnel of a 3 inch mortar shell that, without warning, landed and exploded at his side outside his home in Atzmona. By a miracle, that shell missed a pile of inflammable gas-containers by just 5 meters (Ariel was half a meter from the gas!)

Ariel lay in critical condition for weeks, while thousands prayed for his life. Innovative operations were performed, including removing a portion of his skull and replacing it with a special helmet; the doctors returned the bone two and half years later. Ariel's condition improved with time, dramatically.

On August 15th 2005, Ariel was forcibly evacuated with his family from his home, along with 600 neighbors in Atzmona, and 8000 other residents of Gush Katif, as part of the Israeli Government's disengagement plan. He spent half a year in "City of Faith", a makeshift refugee camp, near Netivot, until they moved to temporary prefabricated homes "Caravillas" in Shomreia.

Lema'an Achai was there for the Yered family and helped them to establish a kindergarten in the "City of Faith" - they are grateful to this day.

This week, Ariel Yered was again within range of "Grad" missiles from Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Ironically, many of the missiles are being launched from the ruins of Gush Katif, including his old home village of Atzmona. Like most ex-Gush Katif residents, Ariel Yered's temporary flimsy house has no protected room, and no bomb shelter within sprinting distance. His school was closed down by the Home Front Command; the school therefore accepted Bet Shemesh's offer to host them - the whole school.

Ariel's school is just one of many schools and yeshivot which have relocated from the rockets and missiles in the south, to Bet Shemesh. (located 45km from Gaza - just beyond the 40km range of Hamas missiles!)

When I saw him today, courageous, young Ariel, who has experienced more horror than any human should, was all smiles, and asked me to thank everyone who has helped bring him and his classmates out of the line-of-fire, to take refuge with us here in Bet Shemesh, with Lema'an Achai.

"Many many thanks" - from Ariel.

(Thanks also to Ariel's father Yossi Yered for explaining the details of this story to me.)


Lema'an Achai is spearheading the Bet Shemesh War Relief Program, in alliance with the Municipality, the community centers, schools, many charities and an 'army' of amazing volunteers.

KIDS: As it is during the school year, and all schools and yeshivas have now been closed down in the south by law, there is a big demand for school groups to relocate in Bet Shemesh. Groups have arrived from Ashdod, Kireat Gat, Sderot, Shomreiya, Netivot, and others...

Around a thousand kids!

These groups have come by organized buses, complete with teaching staff, and are being housed in various Bet Shemesh community centers and schools. They arrive each morning, and go home after school hours. More are due to come.

When I compare it with the the refugee-camp environment of our relief programs for the Northerners in 2006, the overwhelming feeling is that everything here is 'under control' with these kids. They are good kids, well cared for by their regular teachers and staff.

Their needs today are for catered food (they bring sandwiches from home, but need this supplemented for a long day), for activities/games during the breaks, and for recreational outings.

FAMILIES: At this point, families are moving from the South to Bet Shemesh in a sporadic fashion (this contrasts with the organized groups of families who came down from the North to Bet Shemesh in the last war).

These families are being matched up with host families by the Bet Shemesh Municipality and by Ezrat Achim. As of today, the supply and demand is balanced (actually more willing hosts than families).

Some hosts would find it helpful to have extra food - so we are looking to establish cooked food collection points for host families (we did this last time very effectively). We are also looking at setting up family-to-family hostings for shabbat/weekend - a major community wide project - if there is enough demand for this.

STUFF FOR THE SOUTH: Bet Shemesh Community Centers are continuing to collect useful items to deliver to the South. Toys, books, heaters, blankets, are all welcome.

FUTURE: Nobody knows how long this war will last, nor the nature of the imminent needs of our brothers and sisters just a few minutes drive south of us. Or even if we, ourselves, may require help; as just an extra half-liter of rocket fuel would put Bet Shemesh in range.

We are prepared and preparing for all contingencies.

Please donate today www.IsraelWar.org , and encourage your relatives, friends and communities to do the same - because we are able to keep 9 year old hero, Ariel Yered, and another thousand school children, safely out of missile range, ONLY because of our generous donors.

We ask that you also spare a moment, to pray for the successful mission, and the safe return, of all our brave soldiers.

Besorot tovot - we should hear only good news!

More Ways to Donate:

USA Tax Deductible: "US Friends of Lema'an Achai", PO Box 532, Oceanside, NY 11572-0532, USA.

UK Tax Deductible: "British Friends of Lema'an Achai", c/o Nava Kestenbaum, 96 Rigby Street, Salford, Manchester, M7 4BQ, ENGLAND.

Canadian Tax Deductible: "Shaarei Tefilla Charity Fund", C/O Murray Shore, 31 Marwill Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3H 3L2, CANADA.

Israel Tax Deductible: "Lema'an Achai", The Lema'an Achai Center, 40/7 Nahal Lachish, Ramat Bet Shemesh, 99093, Israel.

By Phone 24/6 Donations Hotline (Hebrew): 02 99.999.33

To Volunteer Locally: Hotline Ezrat Achim: 02 9999822
Bet Shemesh Municipal Hotline: (Ms Shula Erev): 02 9909845

In the happy event that the war finishes, and any funds remain, they will solely be used for helping families in desperate need.

David Morris, Chairman
Rabbi Avrohom Leventhal, Executive Director

Lema'an Achai - It's All About Caring

Direct Tel: +972 2 9997107
Office: +972 2 9991553
Fax: +972 2 9992398

40/7 Nahal Lachish
Ramat Beit Shemesh,
99093 Israel.

Please pray for the injured soldiers!

YAAKOV YISRAEL BEN YARDENA - Shrapnel from bomb went through his neck.


DVIR BEN LEAH - serious

RAFI BEN DINA - serious

NOAM BEN ALIZA - one leg amputated, doctors fighting to save the second

LI'EL HOSHEA BEN MIRIAM - serious head injury

NERIYA BEN RIVKA - serious head injury

YITZCHAK BEN NAVA - moderate shoulder injury

NETANEL BEN NAVA - moderate shrapnel wounds

"Ma'ayin yavo ezri - Ezri ma'im Hashem"