Monday, May 13, 2013

Could Be Titled - "I Was Groped By A Rabbi"!

I Was Groped on the Subway

I was late as usual, weaving through the 72nd Street subway station, rushing down the stairs to catch a departing train, and managed to squeeze into one of the packed cars just in time. It was Friday, a few weeks after my 29th birthday. I was on my way downtown to my job at my family’s taxi business, casually dressed in leggings and a striped orange dress. I pushed my still wet hair out of my face and found a sliver of space to stand. As the doors were closing, one more person shoved his way in and the car let out a collective groan.

As the train pulled away from the platform, I felt a man pressing harder and harder against my backside. I tried to evade him but couldn’t move an inch in any direction. I looked over my shoulder thinking the buckle of his bag must have been digging into me but there was no bag. Only his navy sweat pants. Is that what I think it is? It can’t be.

I shifted my hip to the right and then the left, but his body shifted with me. My eyes darted to each of the commuters around me, mutely asking for help. When none of their eyes met mine, I wanted to say something but no words came out. I held my breath until we got to the next stop.

When we arrived at Times Square, I pushed passed him with the force of the other riders behind me. I said nothing as I glanced down to see the bulge below his waist.

A woman approached me as I made my way to the exit, relieved to finally be off the train. She flashed a badge. “Can I ask you some questions?”

“Oh, no, ” I said, reflexively panicking the same way I do when I pass a cop car parked on the side of a highway, even if I’m driving 5 miles below the speed limit.

We stepped to the side as people rushed past.

“I think something happened back there,” she said. “Do you want to tell me about it?”

I knew that she knew and I just started talking.

“I froze. I had no room to move. If I made a scene he could have taken out a knife,” I said, looking at my feet and feeling like a coward with a bunch of excuses.

Why hadn’t I yelled, or elbowed him? Why didn’t I ask the people around me for help? I thought for a moment that I might be crazy, that I was making it all up.

The undercover officer asked if I would give her a written statement right there. I nodded, and she handed me a piece of paper. My hand shook as I wrote, my words jumbled. Finally, I handed her the sheet filled with crossed out inappropriate words replaced by slightly less inappropriate words. She said her partner would come talk to me in a minute and pointed toward a bench. There was the man in the navy sweat pants. He sat calmly, hands cuffed behind his back with a plastic zip tie. I hadn’t even realized they had stopped him, let alone that they were arresting him.

The other officer, a man wearing camouflage cargo shorts and a ripped T-shirt, told me they were watching for pickpockets, but that groping was “the real epidemic.”

“I saw your face first,” he said. “I have daughters and a wife, so I knew right away what that look meant. Makes me sick.” He assured me there was little I could have done, that my groper had picked the busiest train at the peak of rush hour for that very reason. I clung onto his words, grateful for his empathy.

He asked if I rode the train often and if it had happened before. It had, but I had never reported the incidents and had only defended myself once, calling the guy disgusting and moving to the other side of the car.

He asked me to walk by the bench to identify the man. I hesitated, afraid to have the groper see my face, but the officer stayed by my side. I nodded my head and quickly turned in the opposite direction.

Later, when I told my friends what had happened, they hugged me and a few shared their own similar experiences. Mostly, though, they were sure they would have been tougher: they would have kicked the abuser, screamed, pushed their way through the layers of fellow riders.

My husband and I practiced how I would react if it happened again: I would use my voice. Get away from me! Back off! Maybe I would toss a few expletives in. Except I didn’t intend for it to happen again. I wasn’t planning on taking the subway anymore, at least during peak hours. When I told my husband this, he was surprised. He was used to a resilient, strong wife. He knows I come across strange characters often in my male-dominated business and he was always proud to hear how I handled myself. When a client called me Honey or Sugar Lips I’d say, “I prefer to be called Kim.” I had no problem putting my hand up to interrupt a client who was being rude to one of the other women in the office.

But the truth is, I’ve always been secretly skittish, especially when I’m by myself. When I walked down the dark, empty industrial streets near my Long Island City office, I imagined being dragged into one of the dark warehouses, and held my keys in between my fingers in my pocket for protection. Even in my Upper West Side doorman building, I scurry from the elevator into my apartment each night.

Now I am just as anxious underground. Partly, it’s because I’m terrified to see my groper, but I’m also uncertain whether I’ll be able to muster the courage to stand up to a future assaulter.

When the district attorney’s office called to review the charges of sexual assault in the third degree and forcible touching, I asked if my name could be removed from the report. He already has your name from the arraignment, they said. But, don’t worry — he probably didn’t pay attention. I worried he might come after me seeking revenge. I knew the district attorney had no case without my signature. If I wanted any chance of stopping or punishing the guy, I had to give my name and sign a formal complaint and deposition.

I couldn’t be a coward again.

My fears may have immobilized me before, but this seemed like my chance to be a braver version of myself. I signed my name and instantly felt stronger. Almost strong enough to commute by subway again.


Yosef Kolko Pleads Guilty In Plea-Deal!

1:16 PM EST

Kolko agrees to a 10 year sentence according to multiple reliable sources!


Former NJ yeshiva teacher, camp counselor pleads guilty to sexually assaulting boy, is jailed!

Two more victims come forward over the weekend!

AP - TOMS RIVER, N.J. — A former yeshiva teacher has pleaded guilty to charges he sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy he met while working as a counselor for a camp run by a religious school in Lakewood, N.J.

Rabbi Yosef Kolko on Monday entered the pleas on what was to have been the third day of his trial in Toms River, N.J., and his bail was revoked.

The abuse occurred from 2008 to early 2009, when the boy told his father, also a rabbi.

His father had initially wanted the case handled within Lakewood’s Orthodox Jewish community but decided in mid-2009 to take the case to authorities.

Kolko’s attorney says he is extremely remorseful and apologizes to the victim and his family.

He pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault, attempted aggravated sex assault, sexual assault and child endangerment.


Do everything to protect your family against child molesters!

By Susan H. Oliva \ Guest columnist

If you have a radio, television or Internet access, I guarantee you have heard the about the recent Cleveland child abduction case that involves three young women. As a nation, we should find this case very disturbing.

Every hour, more details are disclosed by the three young women held captive. These young women are survivors of both physical and sexual abuse. It is horrible to imagine 10 years of tragic abuse happening right next door. Child sexual abuse is a community problem and happens next door every day.

Everyone must be aware, and do their part, to prevent, report and protect our children. Child molesters are someone you know -- but you don't really know -- because they hide who they really are.

Stranger child abductions do happen, and it makes the headlines, but far more often children are sexually assaulted by their own family members or someone they know really well.

Where do we find, and who is, a child molester? Research demonstrates that the child sexual offender is a family friend or one of the many professionals or volunteer staff who come in contact with our children every day. Sex offenders work very hard to seduce and silence their victims, but they also work very hard to deceive adults, and pretend they are model citizens.

Child molesters do their best to appear stable, employed and respectable. They live in nice houses, go to church, eat in restaurants, and pay their taxes. In the Cleveland case one of the neighbors stated they knew the alleged offender "all of their life, and believed he was a good person."

As hard as it is to believe, three out of four sexual offenders were already preying on victims before they reached their 18th birthday. They want to be perceived as "good people."

Talk to your children. It is essential that you believe and support your child. If your child tells you about "inappropriate touching," do not automatically make excuses for the adult your child disclosed about. If they say they do not want to go to someone's house, ask why.

The child is telling you because they trust you, and they want the abuse to stop. Children need to know you will believe them, as well as protect them. They may feel they have let you down because they were touched and never told, despite your warnings.

Unless we step-up and pay attention, we will be no match for child molesters. A child molester is active in the child's life through family, school, neighborhood or church. They are very good at convincing people that the child is mistaken, or that they were "just wrestling or playing." The molester may know you (the parent) and without a doubt, they believe that you will believe them, and not your child.

Let your child know that if something happens it is not their fault, and they will not be in trouble. Let your child know that if they cannot tell you, they should tell another adult, perhaps a relative or school counselor.

Child abuse prevention programs help, but they cannot do it alone. As parents you must talk to your children. Let them know that they are able to tell you anything. Listen, communicate and believe. Child abuse is an extremely underreported crime. Tragically, most child abuse cases will never be reported. Nationally it is believed for every one child abuse victim identified, 10 additional children are being victimized that no one will ever know about.

If you suspect that a child is being victimized, call 911 or report to the Child Protective Services hotline (800) 252-5400. Visit the Advocacy Center for the Children of El Paso's website: advocacycenterep.org on tips on child abuse prevention and awareness.

It's the law. Do your part and protect El Paso's children.

Susan H. Oliva is executive director, Advocacy Center for the Children of El Paso.