Standing Silent On Child Sex Abuse
Emily Wax writes in the Washington Post:
One by one the victims stood and described their alleged molesters: the Torah teacher, the rabbi, the ice cream truck driver, the man at the mikvah.
That meeting, held nearly six years ago in a small room in a synagogue in Pikesville, just outside Baltimore, went on for four hours. Seated in a circle with the other victims was Phil Jacobs, a Baltimore Jewish Times journalist. He was not there as a reporter. He was there because he, too, had experienced sexual abuse.
But after the meeting, a young man who knew Jacobs was a journalist approached and asked to be interviewed, to have his story told. That was the beginning of Jacobs’s effort to document sexual abuse in Baltimore’s Orthodox Jewish community, bringing the harrowing experiences shared by the 18 victims in that room out into the open.
The first of his stories, “Today, Steve is 25” was published in February 2007, 10 months after the Pikesville meeting.
That process of reporting and writing has been made into a documentary film, “Standing Silent,” directed by Scott Rosenfelt and now being shown at film festivals across the country. Partially funded by a Sundance Institute grant, it details how Jacobs, an Orthodox Jew himself, has been credited with — and criticized for — uncovering a painful secret in Baltimore’s Orthodox community.
“I saw a narrative character that was in great conflict between protecting his faith and his community and protecting children and humanity,” says Rosenfelt, who is an established producer (“Home Alone,” “Mystic Pizza”) as well as a family friend of Jacobs. “To me it was bigger than an action film. Phil’s journey is a classic hero’s journey — it has all the makings of a great movie.”…