Rabbi Yisroel Belsky says calling police or the D.A. to report child sexual abuse is wrong. Victims' families must bring their evidence to a beit din whose rabbis will decide if police and secular courts should be informed.
Today's online edition of the APP has a long article on child sexual abuse in the haredi community of Lakewood, New Jersey. (The article was in Sunday's print edition.)
It deals with the case of Yosef Kolko, an alleged child sexual abuser who is a nephew of the notorious pedophile Rabbi Yehuda Kolko.
Yosef Kolko just pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated sexual assault and child endangerment.
The father of Kolko's alleged victim is a rabbi in Lakewood. When the son told his father that Kolko had sexually molested him, the father went to the District Attorney and Kolko was arrested.
According to the APP, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, the rosh yeshiva of Torah Vodaas in Brooklyn and the Othodox Union's co-posek (rabbinic decisor) along with Rabbi Hershel Schachter of YU, opposes the father's decision to go to law enforcement:
"Such behavior (as that of the victim's father) wouldn't be tolerated'' elsewhere. "When your child tells you something, you don't go straight to a prosecutor, you go to a Bais Din and let them examine the (evidence).… "there's no evidence at all'' against Kolko.
Many leading rabbis in Lakewood also oppose the father's decision to go to law enforcement without first having a beit din review the case.
In late June those rabbis issued a kol koreh (proclamation) against the father. According to a translation obtained by the APP, it reads in part:
"And if, in fact, he has transgressed and has gone so far as to bring the matter to the secular (nonreligious) courts, he is, perforce, obligated to do everything possible in order to remove any scintilla of accusation against the other party from the secular courts. And it need not be stated that it is forbidden (for him) to continue to cooperate with them (secular courts) and to assist them in their efforts to pursue a Jew.''
Interestingly, Rabbi Dovid Cohen, a posek in Brooklyn [this is most likely the same Dovid Cohen who is Ohel's rabbinic authority] was asked by a representative of the haredi community if the allegations against Yosef Kolko should be taken to the prosecutors. His view is the exact opposite of Rabbi Belsky's:
"Not only do I permit it, it is an obligation,'' he said he replied. "There are others who disagree. Those people aren't for molesters; they simply feel that there's a chance a person will be slandered. ... They feel it's not ethical to go to authorities until it's first verified by a Bais Din. That's where we differ.''
An unsigned letter titled "How [the child's father] Makes a Mockery of the Torah" was distributed with the kol koreh. It called the father's decision to go to law enforcement rather than to a beit din a "terrible deed." But it also threatened to publicize the names of the father's supporters if they do not "repent."
Prosecutors are looking into the letter and may charge its author(s) with witness tampering. The only name on the letter (besides the father) is Rabbi Abba Hershkowitz of the Bronx. Hershkowitz is a relative of Rabbi Belsky. It is unclear whether Rabbi Hershkowitz wrote or signed the letter.
You can read the entire article here.