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October 03, 2008

Haredim Begin Confronting Pedophilia – Sort Of

The Forward has a piece this week on the new move to…

…deal with pedophiles in the haredi community.

There are two important quotes and several glaring omissions in the Forward piece.

The first quote:

“Until not terribly long ago, the issue was very much in the shadows,” said David Zwiebel, director of government affairs and general counsel of Agudath Israel of America. “The fact that there were isolated reports here and there of cases arising in yeshiva settings, it was known, but they were very isolated.”

“Sometimes they were dealt with correctly and sometimes incorrectly,” Zwiebel added, “but the severity of the problem and the possible magnitude were really things that most people, including myself, just didn’t understand.”

I think this means that Dov Hikind's task force, no matter how flawed, has brought enough attention to to the scope of this problem that Agudath Israel can no longer easily deny it.

In other words, we have progress, however slight.

Now, the second quote:

Marvin Schick, who has written extensively about Jewish affairs in his position as president of four Orthodox Jewish day schools, one of which is ultra-Orthodox, believes that Orthodox Jews at large are following the trends of larger society. Because there is greater attention being paid to this problem in the secular world, the Orthodox community is just following suit, he said.

Asked whether more people are now realizing that sexual abuse is a real problem, Schick said: “I don’t think [that’s] fair. I’ve been president of four schools for 36 years, and there hasn’t been a single situation.”

He also warned against the possibility of false accusations, which could ruin the lives of those unjustly punished.

As longtime readers of this blog know, I don't like Marvin Schick very much. this quote is another in a long string of examples showing why.

First of all, why would Schick as president of a school's board know about abuse allegations – especially abuse allegations that are hushed up?

If parents won't go to police and if the school's rabbis forbid speaking about the allegations because of "lashon hara," Schick could be blissfully unaware the allegations were made.

But past that, Schick's haredi school is decidedly on the left wing of haredism when it comes to issues like calling police on child molesters. That means child molesters are a bit less likely to work there.

And all of this assumes Schick is telling the truth – and that is an assumption that, based on his previous record, cannot be made.

Now the glaring omissions.

The Forward – with a straight face – managed to write one of its very few article on haredi child sexual abuse without mentions the blogs that first brought this issue to the forefront and have kept it alive while papers like the Forward (under JJ Goldberg) passed on story after story.

Put another way, if no blogs existed and the Jewish community had only the Forward to rely on, there would be no Dov Hikind task force. There would have been no prosecution of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko and no current attempt to extradite Avrohom Mondrowitz. Victims' stories would still be untold and their voices would not be heard. And Marvin Schick's position would still be the haredi norm.

Here's the Forward piece:

Haredim Begin Confronting Pedophilia
By Lana Gersten

After years in which the issue of pedophilia has been quietly dealt with among ultra-Orthodox Jews, a number of leaders in the community are speaking out publicly on the topic, spurring anger and debate over this sensitive issue.

Sexual abuse of children has periodically arisen in the ultra-Orthodox community through high-profile cases like that of Yehuda Kolko and Avrohom Mondrowitz, a teacher and a youth counselor, respectively, who were accused of abusing their students. Leaders in the community told the Forward that they generally treated those cases as isolated incidents. But both the Kolko and Mondrowitz cases have bubbled back up, and in the past few months a number of community leaders have forcefully taken the issue to a new plane.

Perhaps the most influential voice has been of Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who over the past year — and, particularly, over the past two months — has started a somewhat personal campaign and argued that the ultra-Orthodox community has become a haven for child molesters. Agudath Israel of America, a national ultra-Orthodox umbrella organization, has entered the fray by publicly debating legislation on the topic.

“Until not terribly long ago, the issue was very much in the shadows,” said David Zwiebel, director of government affairs and general counsel of Agudath Israel of America. “The fact that there were isolated reports here and there of cases arising in yeshiva settings, it was known, but they were very isolated.”

“Sometimes they were dealt with correctly and sometimes incorrectly,” Zwiebel added, “but the severity of the problem and the possible magnitude were really things that most people, including myself, just didn’t understand.”

The largely Brooklyn-based ultra-Orthodox community, which spans many different sects, has seen a handful of explosive cases, beginning with that of Mondrowitz, who was indicted in Brooklyn on five counts of sodomy and six counts of sexual abuse in 1985, but fled to Israel during the scrutiny.

In 2006 and 2007, Kolko was charged with several counts of sexual abuse. In this case, which went to court, prosecutors allegedly talked the families of the victims into not pursuing further action after a plea bargain was negotiated, The Jewish Week reported. While Kolko first faced felony child sex abuse charges, he eventually pleaded guilty only to child endangerment and received no jail time.

Religious communities of all sorts often attempt to deal with sex abuse behind closeed doors. In the ultra-Orthodox community there is also a scripturally motivated desire to deal with legal problems through religious courts rather than secular ones.

But in 2006, New York magazine published an in-depth look at the Kolko case and the larger issue of sexual abuse. In October 2007, Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes signed papers requesting the extradition of Mondrowitz to the United States.

Following suit, Hikind, an Orthodox man himself and one of the most vocal members of the community, has brought unusual publicity to the issue. He said he only recently came to the realization that sexual abuse in his community is not, in fact, restricted to isolated cases. He said that lately, an “avalanche of people” has come to his office to talk about cases of sexual abuse.

“I’m shocked, and I’ve been around a long time, and I’m pretty with it,” Hikind told the Forward. “I’ve been absolutely shocked and flabbergasted by what I’ve witnessed in the last eight weeks.”

In response, Hikind has taken up the fight this summer by creating a new task force in his office that he says will develop a protocol to address the problem of sexual abuse in a broad way. The task force’s mission is to collect a list of suspected child molesters and make that list available to the public. In an interview with the independent community newspaper The Jewish Star, Hikind boldly described what he views as the extent of the problem.

“If you’re a child molester, the best community to come to is Borough Park, Flatbush, Lakewood or Monroe,” Hikind said, referring to areas that have large ultra-Orthodox populations. “Your chances of being arrested are much smaller because people don’t press charges.”

Amy Neustein, one of the most outspoken activists on child abuse, has noted the change.

Now, Neustein believes that the “groundswell of activism and discontent with the community has finally reached critical mass.”

Zwiebel also believes that this issue is more on the radar now, but he traces the beginning of the interest to a time before Hikind’s campaign. He believes that it goes back to the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. It was then, Zwiebel said, that his members started to hear their own stories of abuse.

In 2006, Agudath Israel supported a bill introduced in New York State to allow private schools to opt into a program that required fingerprinting for all new hires. That same year, Agudath Israel had “no opposition” to a bill that would have obligated these schools to report any cases of sexual abuse and child abuse in their school setting.

More recently, Agudath Israel has declined to take a position on a new fingerprinting bill that would mandate all private schools to opt into the system, though Zwiebel said that this was only because the rules and regulations of the system have not yet been published.

The movement in the community, though, has not gone unopposed. In August, Rabbi Benzion Twerski, a psychologist and respected member of the community, was tapped to head Hikind’s task force. He resigned just days after his appointment, reportedly because of the overwhelming pressure and intimidation he received.

“That just goes to show you that we’ve got a long way to go,” Hikind said.

Marvin Schick, who has written extensively about Jewish affairs in his position as president of four Orthodox Jewish day schools, one of which is ultra-Orthodox, believes that Orthodox Jews at large are following the trends of larger society. Because there is greater attention being paid to this problem in the secular world, the Orthodox community is just following suit, he said.

Asked whether more people are now realizing that sexual abuse is a real problem, Schick said: “I don’t think [that’s] fair. I’ve been president of four schools for 36 years, and there hasn’t been a single situation.”

He also warned against the possibility of false accusations, which could ruin the lives of those unjustly punished.

Despite the concern, cases of alleged sexual abuse keep coming up — most recently in August, when a former student sued Rabbi Avrohom Reichman, a teacher at a prominent Satmar school in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, accusing him of sexual assault and abuse. The suit from the student alleges that the school failed to protect students against sexual assault. Reichman has not yet responded to the suit.

According to Elliot Pasik, the attorney for the alleged victim in the Reichman case, Hikind has taken up the issue at the right time and is on the right track. He believes that the public recognition of the problem will lead to increased legislation with a greater sense of urgency.

“There’s growing consensus, both in establishment quarters and in the synagogue pews, that some helpful governmental involvement in the life of our yeshivas is necessary,” Pasik said.

Previous Posts On Marvin Schick.

[Hat Tip: The Other DK.]

Comments

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Yep. It was the bloggers (and the comments)that started the ball rolling.

Aguda is still silent on the issue.

Until they change their views and publicly apologize, no one should give them a dime.

And of course no one should renew their membership in the agudah or their subscription to the Jewish Observer.

By the way, Did anyone see Mostofsky's article in the Jewish press this week ?

Schick can't be trusted in general & particularly anything he says on this matter.He is a first class operator & phony who thrives on spewing his ignorance all over the many things he doesn't have the intellectual capacity to comprehend.

Agudah,RCA,all lip service.They have ALL done nothing until they let the truth out,that we jews are no different than the molesting priests & vatican coverups.Ohel,david mandel,all types who allow status quo as this horrific behavior continues in all areas of our people--orthoodox,reform,charedi,modern orthodox,etc...

Hikind made a little political noise but he has no clue or real game plan since to date,he has not met with the people who are pros in reeling in these disgusting animals like kolko,matis weinberg,the tendlers,gafni,mondorowitz & their enablers like saul berman,agudah,mandel,shick,the RCA,& of course,the so many rebbes who are imprisoning their own people with threats of violence,torture & excommunication & break off from one's families if they speak out.

The rosh yeshiva at chaim berlin,a man named schecter is known to publicly slap people--Where are the assault charges against him? Who made him a rosh yeshiva anyway? This man ignored Rav Feinstein??!!

Agudah's phony "efforts" need be ignored as the molestors keep doing their thing.

By the way, Did anyone see Mostofsky's article in the Jewish press this week ?

I didn't. Who's innocent now?

Who made him a rosh yeshiva anyway? This man ignored Rav Feinstein??!!

Rav Moshe wanted rabbis to decide halakha the way each one individually thought best – even if that meant disagreeing with him.

Ohel Former Employee,

Don't forget Lipa Margulies !!!

Shmayra,

Here is the article.

Dealing With Abuse: A Proposal
More Articles By Shlomo Z. Mostofsky
Shlomo Z. Mostofsky
Posted Oct 01 2008

Assemblyman Dov Hikind deserves credit for his attempt to deal with the issue of abuse in the Orthodox community - a community where people still refer to cancer as "yener machlah" (that disease); where mental illnesses (even those that are not genetic, such as postpartum depression) are rarely spoken of publicly; and where some parents are still afraid to have their sons and daughters tested and registered with Dor Yeshorim even though doing so might prevent a marriage resulting in children with genetic diseases.

And, of course, there are those who continue to deny that abuse exists in the community (though at the same time allegations of domestic abuse are used in many divorce cases to prevent fathers from seeing their children).

Given these circumstances, it's not hard to understand why Assemblyman Hikind has come up against significant opposition in his attempt to deal with this issue.

In 1984, not long after I was admitted to the bar, I was employed as a law assistant to a judge in Brooklyn Family Court. The court deals with visitation, child support, juvenile delinquency and domestic and child abuse, among other matters. During the six years I worked there it was rare to see an Orthodox litigant.

After leaving my position, I returned six years later as an attorney in private practice. In the intervening years the court's caseload had gown exponentially. The court calendars were clogged with child abuse and neglect cases against parents. Unfortunately, on any given day many of those cases involved Orthodox Jewish families.

Over the years I have written about the issues of domestic abuse and child neglect/abuse in the Orthodox community. I have spoken on these topics to audiences ranging from attendees at the Agudah's annual convention to a group of Kings County assistant district attorneys. And I find that our community still cannot entirely grasp the concept that it is possible for Orthodox parents and spouses to be guilty of abuse or neglect.

I also learned that abuse occurs at many yeshivas and camps as I fielded phone calls from teachers, school administrators, camp administrators and parents.

The molestation of children by teachers and clergy came to the fore a few years ago with reports of widespread abuse in the Catholic Church. The publicity actually made it easier for victims of abuse in the Orthodox community to come forward. The problem, however, is what happens after someone comes forward with an allegation of abuse.
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Rape victims, knowing they will be subject to cross-examination and in some ways feel victimized all over again, are often reluctant to prosecute, even with laws in effect that protect their rights during criminal trials. Imagine, then, how difficult it is for children to come forward, especially if the accused is a respected member of the community.

A number of years ago I was approached about setting set up a bet din to deal with cases of abuse within the Orthodox school system. I was told that a major roadblock was the fear that the bet din would be sued by the accused.

Pointing out that teachers, school administrators and all mental health professionals are mandated reporters of abuse in New York, I noted that a bet din could operate in cases where the secular criminal or civil legal systems were not involved. I then suggested that a committee, designated by the institutions that wished to become part of this process, institute employment guidelines for all staff members at their institutions. The guidelines might be as simple as staff members not being permitted to be alone with any child in a classroom, or they could specifically prohibit certain physical contact between staff members and children.

Once the guidelines were set, each staff member, from administrators to custodians, as a condition of his or her employment would be presented with the guidelines and expected to read them and sign an agreement to abide by them. The committee would also develop a list of dispositions for infractions of the rules. These dispositions could include loss of a day's pay, suspension, simple dismissal, and dismissal with a recommendation that the person not be hired at any institution involving children.

A special bet din would be set up to deal with these cases and, to avoid lawsuits, I suggested that complaints be dealt with by the bet din in two stages. In stage one the bet din would determine only if there was an infraction of the employment guidelines signed by the employee. If a finding of a guideline violation was made, the bet din would then determine, in stage two, which of the dispositional options to apply.

The bet din would not list the guideline that was violated in its decision. Obviously, a short suspension or loss of pay would not necessarily become grist for the Orthodox rumor mill. If, however, the disposition was dismissal with the recommendation that the accused not be hired by any other Jewish institution, the name of the accused and the disposition would be made public.

Not listing the guideline(s) the accused violated would serve the following purpose: If the accused believed his rights were violated by the bet din, he would have to commence an action in the secular courts where he -- not the bet din -- would have to state in some manner what he was accused of and why the disposition was improper. I doubt most accused parties would put themselves in the position of having to make this information public.

In addition, the bet din, unburdened by rules of evidence or the constitutional right of an accused to confront an accuser, could conduct its hearings with much more sensitivity to both the victim and the accused than if the matter were handled in the civil courts. The bet din would not be a public forum where everyone's identity could be exposed.

There have been many recommendations about how to protect our children. I do not believe fingerprint checks of teachers and camp counselors are useful. If the problem is that the abusers have not been reported to the authorities by our community, it is highly doubtful that fingerprints would indicate there was anything in the person's background to make him suspect.

I also believe it is the duty of all parents, prior to and during the school year and at the beginning of the camp season, to have age-appropriate discussions with their children about the right to personal privacy and the difference between proper and improper touching.

I am not very confident that efforts to weed out abusers already in our system will be successful. Child victims who have not come forward will unlikely do so until they become adults, and I believe that in most cases parents of younger children who have come forward will in the end not permit them to be subjected to the criminal or civil justice system. I believe that if we wish to police ourselves in order to protect our children we can do so, but we must be honest about the realities of life in 21st-century America.

We are a holy nation and can remain so only if we take steps to protect our children from the predators who live and work among us.

Shlomo Z. Mostofsky, Esq., is president of the National Council of Young Israe

does that mean this schecter fellow was permitted to ignore a summons to Rav Feinstein's Beis Din?

does schecter have carte blanche to hit people with no consequense? why is there little mention on this blog of schecter's diabolical & abusive behavior?

I know a da on a personal level in Brooklyn, who deals with child abuse cases.

he says that this is not isolated cases like Schick says, he says he has many cases on his desk that are opened and the investigation are being hindered by families, communities leaders, and the communities itself (lets say as a witness)

He basically, said the the orthodox is doing the exact same thing as the Church that he is a memeber off.

He also said it was going on, the hindering even in the last few weeks when two Boro Park girls where sexually abused. He only guess is, that is must have been a frum molester, since he was getting calls to drop it. If the assaulter would have been a non-frum person this he said would not happen.

When people say the problem is much smaller in the orthodox community of course it is the community is smaller. But if corrected statistically, I wonder what the truth really is?


So according to Mostofsky, even someone who performed direct sexual contact with a child would still not be reported to the police, and they would get a short suspension or loss of pay.
The Jewish religious world is doomed.

Mostofsky writes "In 1984, not long after I was admitted to the bar, I was employed as a law assistant to a judge in Brooklyn Family Court. ... During the six years I worked there it was rare to see an Orthodox litigant."

I don't know what's changed in 17 years, but I got involved with Family Court when my wife and I sought to become guardians of one my daughter's classmates who had no place to live. During my three or four times to the court, I always saw at least one Orthodox litigant in the court building, and usually more.

In addition, the bet din, unburdened by rules of evidence or the constitutional right of an accused to confront an accuser, could conduct its hearings with much more sensitivity to both the victim and the accused than if the matter were handled in the civil courts
I believe that if we wish to police ourselves in order to protect our children we can do so

Another genius throwing his two cents in calling for more coverups and protection of molesters. I am sick and tired of these so-called "professionals" saying that we could police ourselves and that there is no reason to involve the authorities. This has been the mantra of the Agudah and the rest of the enablers for over four decades now. Where has it led us? Child molestation in the Orthodox community is rampant, both domestically and in yeshivos. Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise. I have met and discussed this with several victims and counselors and the facts are irrefutable. Mostofsky calls for bais din to deal with it. Do you remember the last bais din that was convened in 1985 to "handle" the Kolko case? 'Nuff said already.

http://theunorthodoxjew.blogspot.com/2008/04/steve-mostofskys-nasty-history-on-child.html

Steve Mostofsky is a fraud. Read this post on him from UOJ. It's prefaced by what happened to UOJ after he posted it. Persons presumed to be Steve Mostofsky and Young Israel lawyer Marty Samson contacted Blogger's parent company Google with legal threats to remove the expose on Mostofsky.

does that mean this schecter fellow was permitted to ignore a summons to Rav Feinstein's Beis Din?

does schecter have carte blanche to hit people with no consequense?

If you are claiming Schechter ignored a hazmna, then say so. What you originally wrote is:Who made him a rosh yeshiva anyway? This man ignored Rav Feinstein??!!Can Schechter hit people at will? Of course not.

Let those he hit bring charges or sue him.

Has anyone done that?

Of course not.

why is there little mention on this blog of schecter's diabolical & abusive behavior?

Please.

Read any of the posts on Isaac Hersh.

Love you guys. Today Rabbi Feinstein is Rav Moshe Feinstein but Rabbi Schechter has lost his title.

Tomorrow someone will caome up with an incident in which Rabbi Feinstein's opinion was not to Shmarya's liking and Rabbi Schechter's opinion was to Shmarya's liking and the next thing we'll know Rabbi Schechter will be Rav Aaron Schechter and Rabbi Feinstein will lose his ordination.

Don't you guys get it? Only Shmarya knows right or wrong. Anyone who disagrees is the devil incarnate.

Please ask Marvin Schick about David Amsel (former 3rd grade Rebbi) who worked in the RJJ yeshiva in Staten Island 30 some odd years ago while Schick was still the administrator there.

shmarya
i have tried for the last half an hour to get through to your email. no luck.
i really really need to talk to you and could think of no other way to do so.
i hope you read this and respond to
me
i live in jerusalem and am busy exposing a raping rabbi here
do you visit here soon, are you in israel already i hope so
i really want to meet you
thank you for what you are doing
though i do not agree with all you have said, i just read a little for the first time. i appreciate a man of courage. there are so few.
shalom
shana tova
ruth in jerusalem

I know this an old post... I agree with BRRRR... I have very little, if any respect for Marvin Schick... BRRRR, there was only one thing Schick was worried about back then...

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