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May 23, 2012

Rabbis Should Investigate Alleged Child Sexual Abuse Victims Before Allowing Parents To Call Police, Agudah Says

Agudah logo redZwiebel said the rabbi’s decision on whether the parent can go to law enforcement “depends on whether your child has the habit of fantasizing. It depends on whether your child and the teacher have had run-ins in the past. It may require some level of nuance and investigation [by a rabbi] that go beyond the mere allegation.”

 

The Forward has new piece on haredi child sexual abuse that makes it seem as if the Forward first reported the story that Agudath Israel of America mandates haredim to report suspicions of child sexual abuse to a rabbi, not police or the D.A., That haredi rabbi in turn decides whether or not the suspicions should be reported to law enforcement:

An Orthodox parent whose child tells him he’s been sexually abused may not take that child’s claim to the police without first getting religious sanction from a specially trained rabbi, the head of America’s leading ultra-Orthodox umbrella group has told the Forward.

But one year after acknowledging that no such registry of trained rabbis exists, Rabbi David Zwiebel said that his group has now dropped the idea of developing one.

The story that Agudah is insisting that haredim report suspicions of child sexual abuse to rabbis, not to police or the D.A. or even to A.C.S., was broken by me on May 18, 2011, one week before the Forward's in-house report it links to in its article above was posted online. But that Forward report and this one today do not credit me.

A piece I did in November of last year reported the deal between the D.A. and Agudah that allowed this rabbinic screening to take place. It was this piece the New York Times's public editor linked to when he wrote on Sunday that the Times was wrong not to credit me.

Add to this the Forward's transparant attempts to make its coverage appear to be equal to or greater than The Jewish Week's coverage of haredi child sexual abuse, especially in terms of stories stolen by the New York Times. But evaluations done so far by the Times public editor and by the Village Voice clearly show that the Jewish Week's Hella Winston was robbed far more often by the Times than the Forward was.

The reason for this is that Winston has broken a ton of stories; the Forward has not.

Past this Paul Berger theft, the Forward's new piece has some interesting quotes, gathered Monday from Agudah's Executive VP Rabbi David Zwiebel and its spokesperson Rabbi Avi Shafran.

Here are those quotes. Only the material between two quotation marks comes directly from the Forward. The rest may be rephrased for clarity or style. The same is true for material contained within two square brackets, even if those brackets are within two quotation marks:

Agudath Israel Executive VP Rabbi David Zwiebel: “If they [rabbis] don’t give the right advice, they can be in trouble. Why would you want to create some sort of a list that would make them more vulnerable?…We’re not going to compromise our essence and our integrity because we are nervous about a relationship that may be damaged with a government leader.”

Zwiebel said that when he outlined Agudah’s policy mandating haredim to ask a rabbi to determine whether suspicions of child sexual abuse can be reported to police or Brooklyn’s D.A. Charles Hynes, Hynes did not see anything about it that was “inconsistent with the standards of secular law.”

Zwiebel seemed genuinely distressed that such a stance has now led his organization to be “portrayed as being in the camp of molester protectors.”

Zwiebel said the rabbi’s decision on whether the parent can go to law enforcement “depends on whether your child has the habit of fantasizing. It depends on whether your child and the teacher have had run-ins in the past. It may require some level of nuance and investigation [by a rabbi] that go beyond the mere allegation.”

Zwiebel said parents could consult their own rabbi, who in turn could find another rabbi better equipped to make the decision. Rabbis could, if necessary, bring in a mental health professional or a social worker to assess the credibility of the claims.

“You may have some cases where it’s going to take some time” to determine whether there is raglayin l’davar, reasonable suspicion, Zwiebel said, “and the DA won’t be happy” due to the delay. There even may be cases where a rabbi makes “the wrong call” and is prosecuted for obstructing justice. But if this damages the haredi community’s relationship with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg or other politicians, “oh, well.”

Agudath Israel Spokesperson Rabbi Avi Shafran: Asked how a rabbi could ascertain whether a child is lying, Shafran said, “There are certain subtle [signs] in a child that show whether the child is fantasizing.” He said these indicators included a child’s tone of voice or specific things he or she says.

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Allowing Parents To Call Police

Allowing or advising? Does Agudah have such power to restrain a parent from reporting?

You kofer.

You apikorus.

If they don't come to us Gedolim first, how are we going to cover it up?

We never met a Charedi abuser we didn't like.

We would have an asifa about abuse but since there are no abusers, why bother?

Signed

Agudas Yisroel

Enough with these rabbis. The solution is simple. It should be a criminal offense for a parent to not go to the police if they know or suspect that their child has been abused.

If someone fails to pay or errs in the amount of taxes that they owe does the govt go after your accountant?

The child is the parents responsibility and the duty of protecting the children falls squarely on them. If they are derelict in their responsibility then it's off to jai!

dumb and dumberer speak again. i would definitely want a guy like shafran- who said that madoff is a better man than capt. sully- to use his great wisdom to ascertain whether children should or should not be protected from molesters.
and can zweibel and shafran provide the long list of children who they felt SHOULD be believed ? how many times have they forwarded info to the police?

children will be safer when these two are ignored by everyone.

Research has shown that .1% (1 in 1,000) of women and .01% (1 in 10,000) of men make up stories about being abused. I don't see how Zweibel sleeps at night.
http://www.mendeley.com/research/accuracy-of-adult-recollections-of-childhood-victimization-part-1-childhood-physical-abuse/

to be listened to, Rabbi David Zwiebel should just say how many times in the last few years
has Agudath Israel permitted a parent to go to the police and provide some namesi

o be listened to, Rabbi David Zwiebel should just say how many times in the last few years
has Agudath Israel permitted a parent to go to the police and provide some namesi

Posted by: seymour | May 23, 2012 at 03:14 PM

forgot to mention i assume it is zero

What a great way to frame a teacher, accusing him of sexual impropriety! The problem is the kid's chance for a shiddukh are impacted.

When it comes to Agudath Israel Of America we now how many times its affiliated beis dins have reported and/or given permission to report to the police? Virtually zero. Perhaps once or twice in cases involving small fry. The only one I can think of was the case of Reuven "Randy" Bogoff who was characterized by Rabbi Maryles as a "Baal Teshuva". The process the survivor of abuse went through before he was permitted to report the abuse to the police or whether it involved a beis din is unclear.

Part of the problem is that Agudath Israel Of America talks from both sides of its mouth.

See: http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2007/02/rabbi_dovid_fei.html

July 2006 quote from the Jewish Voice:
...
In general, Rabbi [Dovid] Feinstein says, it is a good idea for would-be accusers in the Jewish community to take their charges to a beit din before going to the police. “If the person is found guilty, the beit din would tell the accuser to go to the police; if the person is found not guilty, the beit din would tell the accuser to forget it,” he says. Asked if he knows of any instances in which a beit din referred a case to the civil authorities, Rabbi Feinstein says he does not.
...

Which contradicts what Agudath's mouth piece says:

What the rabbi said
Jerusalem Post
January 24, 2006
Sir, - Readers of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency's recent series on clergy sexual abuse may have been misled by the report's assertion that the meaning of words spoken by a respected rabbinic authority at last year's Agudath Israel of America national convention is, as the article put it, "open to interpretation." The rabbinic authority, the article asserted, admitted "that haredim are indeed guilty of sweeping things under the carpet."
The writer of the series has acknowledged to me that he had not at the time listened to a recording of the speech.
Rabbi Salomon's words, however, could not have been clearer. He pointed out how some people like to accuse the haredi community of "sweeping things under the carpet." They are right, he went on to explain, but not in the way they mean. "Do they know how many perpetrators" of sins against others "have been dealt with?" No, he averred, because when actions are taken against individuals who have proven themselves untrustworthy, Orthodox leaders do not trumpet their actions. And even as they take what steps are necessary to protect others, he added, they also seek to protect human dignity.
Moreover, Rabbi Salomon declared that when crimes are asserted but not proven, Jews must be guided not by a mob mentality but by the Torah.
The JTA article may well be right that "several Web site and blog contributors" chose to interpret Rabbi Salomon's remarks as an admission that "haredi officials often look the other way when clergy sex abuse takes place in their midst." But that says something only about those Web site and blog contributors, and nothing at all about what Rabbi Salomon actually said.
RABBI AVI SHAFRAN
Director of Public Affairs
Agudath Israel of America

I would remind people that Rav Reuven
Feinstein (Rav Dovid Feinstein's brother) is a Presidium (board) member of Agudath Israel of America Inc. So when Agudath Israel through its spokesperson Avi Shafran says:

>"Rabbi Salomon's words, however,
>could not have been clearer. He
>pointed out how some people like
>to accuse the haredi community
>of "sweeping things under the
>carpet." They are right, he went
>on to explain, but not in the way
>they mean. "Do they know how many
>perpetrators" of sins against
>others "have been dealt with?" No,
>he averred, because when actions
>are taken against individuals who
>have proven themselves untrustworthy,
>Orthodox leaders do not trumpet their
>actions. And even as they take what
>steps are necessary to protect others,
>he added, they also seek to protect
>human dignity.

We know thanks to Rav Dovid Feinstein exactly how many child molesters "have been dealt with". ZERO, not one.

>"Asked if he knows of any
>instances in which a beit din
>referred a case to the civil
>authorities, Rabbi Feinstein says
>he does not.

And they are who we rely on to protect our children at their camps and in institutions?

Agudath Israel is distorting halacha, obstructing justice, silencing the voices of survivors of abuse and protecting the pedophiles. Yet they lie and claim the opposite.

Agudath Israel continues to mislead and lie as to its true position and how abuse is really dealt with in the community.

Effectively, once you go the rabbonim of Agudath Israel Of America Inc. the pedophile is now safe because they will virtually never give permission to go to the police.

How Agudath Israel Of America Inc. Rabbonim really deals with pedophiles. They protect pedophiles and silence the children that are abused and their families. They prevent the reporting of crimes to the police and obstruct justice. You don't have to take my word. This is from Rav Dovid Feinstein's interview in a July 2006 interview with the Jewish Voice and Opinion on reporting abuse to the authorities (note Rav Dovid Cohen recruited Rav Dovid Feinstein to the 2nd bais din on the Rabbi Hafner sexual abuse case):
...
Rav Dovid Feinstein of the Lower East Side, in whose office the beit din was held, says the rabbinic court was called at the behest of the (removed) family who, somewhat belatedly, decided they wanted halachic approbation to call in the secular authorities. In fact, according to Rabbi Feinstein, this was not the first beit din that was called to adjudicate the matter. He maintains that, before going to the police in the first place, the (removed) had asked a beit din to decide what they should do. “When the beit din ruled that the family should not go to the police, the family decided the beit din was biased against them, and allowed the secular courts to take over,” says Rav Feinstein, who did not participate in that first beit din.

Personally Recruited
According to Rabbi Rottenberg, the second beit din consisted of five rabbis who were all personally recruited by Rabbi Cohen.
“He wanted to find the five best rabbis he could to sit on this beit din, because he wanted no arguments about the ruling,” says Rabbi Rottenberg, adding that when he hesitated to join, Rabbi Cohen called Rabbi Rottenberg’s parents to convince him to take part.
...
In general, Rabbi Feinstein says, it is a good idea for would-be accusers in the Jewish community to take their charges to a beit din before going to the police. “If the person is found guilty, the beit din would tell the accuser to go to the police; if the person is found not guilty, the beit din would tell the accuser to forget it,” he says. Asked if he knows of any instances in which a beit din referred a case to the civil authorities, Rabbi Feinstein says he does not.

This mindless rabbi Zwiebel thinks we are morons going to rabbis for the past 30 just covered this molestatuon up not only didnt it help the victims but hurt them immensly,how can he make such statements over and over again it boggles the mind,he is just as guilty as a molester this Zwiebel,according to past experience no one should ever listen to a rabbi and just go straight to the police it only backfires if you go to a rabbi.

Zwiebel, a lawyer, appears to be publicly advocating to mandated reporters to break NY law. Can anyone comment on the NY Bar discipline board's policy as to such activities?

>Agudath Israel Spokesperson Rabbi Avi
>Shafran: Asked how a rabbi could
>ascertain whether a child is lying,
>Shafran said, “There are certain subtle
>[signs] in a child that show whether the
>child is fantasizing.” He said these
>indicators included a child’s tone of
>voice or specific things he or she says.

I guess we can rid of the police, CFS and the courts. There is clearly no need for investigations, witness or trials. Shafran can make all of these determinations based on tone of voice. And this is Agudath Israel's spokesperson?

jewishwhistleblower -Theese rabbis rather dismiss the molestation then cnfront it seriously, the reason they cannot bring themselfs to ackowledge it they think they are so perfect that nothing so horrible can exist in their midst.

Shmarya, don't take this personally, but did you really expect the Forward to credit you? Between J.J. Goldberg's HUGE EGO (I've met him) and the fact that most of print media hates the bloggers, all bloggers, and especially controversial ones, you will get proper credit when pigs fly.

Why is this only about AI. Or the ultra orthodox? Though understand the context in which this is written. The incident that I am thinking that was told to me was someone went to an RCA Flatbush Rabbi, who said 3 things, ie don't tell on another. That person happened to know a MO Rabbi, who said "it's something I don't want to know about"...this is not just a Haredim problem. I hope it's not taken as such. It's a bigger problem than what is being put out there...hopefully they too will see and make changes.

Posted by: Josiah Nott | May 23, 2012 at 04:15 PM

JJ hasn't been an editor there for at least two years.

Past that, since the current editor and PR people insisted the times credit the Forward, certainly I should be credited – especially since the Times' public editor credited me along with the Forward, NY Mag and, first and foremost, the Jewish Week, in that same piece and LINKED to my reporting on this.

Why is this only about AI. Or the ultra orthodox? Though understand the context in which this is written. The incident that I am thinking that was told to me was someone went to an RCA Flatbush Rabbi, who said 3 things, ie don't tell on another. That person happened to know a MO Rabbi, who said "it's something I don't want to know about"...this is not just a Haredim problem. I hope it's not taken as such. It's a bigger problem than what is being put out there...hopefully they too will see and make changes.

Posted by: D | May 23, 2012 at 04:17 PM

Because the RCA has an official policy to report suspicions of child sexual abuse to police.

Haredim have the opposite.

But they don't Shmarya..though thank you...

Correction

The yeshiva world has an official policy to report molesters according to the psak of several of it's greatest halachic authorities. But there are a number of organizations like the Agudah that disobey the halacha due to fear of civil suits $$ and criminal liability for past obstruction of justice.

The Chassidic world are split between those poskim who agree with Litvish poskim and those poskim who are in a time warp from 1800s Eastern Europe and are convinced that the big bad government will execute any Jew they apprehend.

You talk about credit where it is due. Sabo was reported to police at the urging of some roshei yeshiva in Brooklyn. There are many more examples.

i'm very disappointed in agudath israel. very.

We all know that this has nothing to do with false accusations. Zwiebel and Shafran know very well that kids don't sit and "fantasize" about men fondling their genitals. They also know how rare false accusations are and that rabbis are ill equipped to investigate these matters. It is all a smoke screen to prevent victims from going to the police and causing the molesters to be incarcerated. Zwiebel said many times that he prefers therapy over jail time for the molesters in order not to deprive the molester's family of their breadwinner. Zwiebel is talking on behalf of the old guard rabbis who stubbornly insist on continuing the failed policies of the past. They want to continue to handle these matters "internally" which means to sweep these cases under the carpet indefinitely. In the words of Bruce Springsteen, it is one step forward, two steps back.

You talk about credit where it is due. Sabo was reported to police at the urging of some roshei yeshiva in Brooklyn. There are many more examples.

Posted by: Josiah Nott | May 23, 2012 at 04:38 PM

if he would have be a stremeil yid you think they would have reported him

Seymour, Sabo is a product of Margulies's & Kolko's yeshiva and looks no different than the typical clean shaven baal habos in the Marine Park neighborhood. And yes, they would have reported a shtreimel Yid too.

Why are you trying to find any way to avoid giving credit where it is due?

Research has shown that .1% (1 in 1,000) of women and .01% (1 in 10,000) of men make up stories about being abused.
-------------------------------------
I looked at the link, but I think the person who posted this should be responsible for correcting this obvious malformed misinformation. Hint: is the population those reporting a story, reporting a crime? or is the population drawn from the general population?? The layers of misreporting here should be obvious, and stuff like this is useful in an intro stats class on how *not* report stats.

"Zwiebel said the rabbi’s decision on whether the parent can go to law enforcement “depends on whether your child has the habit of fantasizing. It depends on whether your child and the teacher have had run-ins in the past. It may require some level of nuance and investigation [by a rabbi] that go beyond the mere allegation.”

Zweibel assumes that children who fantasize do not get molested. He should study how molesters select victims. They choose people whom others might not believe.

In the frum world, the chances of a false allegation diminish greatly because the accuser and his family face ostracism.

Hynes knows that consulting a rabbi first means that the allegations will not reach his office.

These rabbis protect their colleagues and the myth that crimes do not exist in their community, not their followers and definitely not children.

ps: and please don't tell me it doesn't matter how those stats are reported since it makes the same political point. I have periodically pointed out errors made, and then do not like to hear people say "It doesn't matter". Well, it does matter to be accurate.

Now about the topic "Rabbis should receive info first". The fundamental issue here, in my view, rests on the question "Are these guys qualified for that level of responsibility?" More logical minds here have already addressed this, but I wish to raise that point again. This comes in the context of a "know it all" attitude, and that attitude is on display ALL OVER the PLACE, and not just with Rabbis. Some discussion of the cultural backdrop for this could be useful.

In other words, your child needs an "after action briefing" to process what "really" happened.

This so called rabbi lawyer tweibel thinks we are morons he can say anything and we buy into his obvious rediculous nonsense, he is insulting our intelligence as lawyer he should be ashamed of himself he is beyond the pale.

Posted by: jancsipista | May 23, 2012 at 06:11 PM

I see you posted on vin

Seymour, Sabo is a product of Margulies's & Kolko's yeshiva and looks no different than the typical clean shaven baal habos in the Marine Park neighborhood. And yes, they would have reported a shtreimel Yid too.

Why are you trying to find any way to avoid giving credit where it is due?

Posted by: Josiah Nott | May 23, 2012 at 05:28 PM

may be but it is to far and between interestingly i wonder if that rosh yesiva would ever admit to that?

yes there are some brave men who buck the system however there are not to many.

I am trying to find out if true that the munchancher rov said go to the police ( my friend said he said that that)

Seymour the person who committed the action had very long peyot, the Rabbi who was consulted was an old world (for lack of better terminology) elderly orthodox Rabbi in Flatbush.... You're right, would they? You have my answer... If I read correctly..And yes there are still some out there, highly respected...who are also, still in another world...I guess..

NY State needs to pass a law that makes everyone a mandated reporter.

@Mechanic
The stats posted were taken from a study that investigated whether children who reported being abused were actually abused - whether their stories checked out. According to that study, 99.9% were telling the truth.
Zweibel, in the NY Times, as well as Shafran have both said that children make these things up.
This study is only one of many investigating the matter. Books have been written about abuse in the Jewish community as well ( http://www.amazon.com/Abuse-Jewish-Community-Religious-Apprehension/dp/9655240649 )
I understand your apprehension, however, I suggest you truly investigate the matter fully.

seymour-yes i need to tell this to the rest of humanity lest i lose my humanity.

This is getting sicker by the minute. Zwiebel is a disgrace and should fall on his sword.
Can't wait for the next Aguda convention when they blame it on the blogs.
UOJ was right close down the Aguda.

Seymour the person who committed the action had very long peyot, the Rabbi who was consulted was an old world (for lack of better terminology) elderly orthodox Rabbi in Flatbush.... You're right, would they? You have my answer... If I read correctly..And yes there are still some out there, highly respected...who are also, still in another world...I guess..

Posted by: D | May 23, 2012 at 06:21 PM

not exactly sure what you are saying

rabbis?
rabbis my butt.

NY State needs to pass a law that makes everyone a mandated reporter.

Posted by: Jake | May 23, 2012 at 06:41 PM

What disturbs me greatly is the fact that NOBODY but NOBODY discusses the criminality of the child's own guardian, the parents. Why are they not required BY LAW to report the abuse to the police. What the fuck is this preoccupation with the rabbis. Stop pussyfooting and put the blame where it belongs - the parents. If they don't report the abuse they (1) Lose their children and (2) get their asses hauled off to jail! This will put a HUGE dent into the reporting problem - immediately!

Posted by: ItsTheParentsStupid | May 23, 2012 at 08:18 PM

opps if the parents do not report who will know?

no way, jose !

those 'rabbi' have a twisted way to swindle victims . disgusting .
rabbi will sweet talk you into not going to the police or the D.A. or will tell you you don't have a case .

opps if the parents do not report who will know?

Posted by: seymour | May 23, 2012 at 08:25 PM

If the rabbis do not report who will know?

The point being if the punishment is so harsh, a parent will not take the chance of losing their children and being thrown into jail! As an example the child tells someone who then reports to the police and it comes out that the parents knew and did not report.

I have just visited GoPetition and found the following page very interesting:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/agudath-israel-doesnt-represent-the-jewish-community-an.html

>Posted by: BS | May 23, 2012 at 06:43 PM

There now. Your clarification makes the case all the stronger (aren't you glad you reposted this?). Now none of this addresses the accuracy of the statistics, but at least we know what is being claimed. I don't think that discussion is easy to do, but it seems reasonable that one should state the claim without the layers of ambiguity.

The rabanim who are protecting molestors should know that most boys who are molested end up going away from orthodox judaism and that most of these molested boys end up becoming homosexuals. I have heard that 30% of ex-satmarers are homosexuals.

It is time that the rabanim should stop protecting molestors and have the molestors thrown in jail or at least put under house arrest where they won't be able to protect any more boys. Anyboby who is scared that he won't be able to control his homosexual desires, even if he is a rabbi, should look on the internet for a consenting homosexual adult to be his homosexual partner and commit the sin of homosexualality instead of becoming a child molestor.
Of course the rabanim have banned the internet and have especially banned the unfiltered internet that is nessessary to find a homosexual partner, thereby causing men with homosexual desires to have no choice but to become child molestors. The rabanim, by banning the internet to save us from learning about sin have caused some people to commit worse sin than the sins that they would learn about on the internet i.e. child molestation.

I made a mistake saying protect any boys. I meant molest any boys.

HYH - as you're clearly "hard of thinking" I'll state this as clearly as possible:

homosexuality does not cause child rape. -- child rape does not cause homosexuality

Think about it this way; assuming you're married, imagine you cannot have sex with your wife for several months. Perhaps a difficult pregnancy, or she's ill, or out of town. So, do you then start fantasising about six year old girls? Do you drag one into your car and rape her?

No? Why? Because you are sexually attracted to mature females, past puberty, with adult bodies.

People who are attracted to their own sex are identical to those attracted to the opposite sex, apart from that one difference.

Child sexual abuse is made possible by the abuser having access to that child, and power over them. The reason that Orthodox men overwhelmingly tend to molest boys is because they rarely get to be alone with girls. They have power over boys as teachers, and male relatives. They have access in the yeshivot, at the mikvah, at Shul. Girls are not mingling freely with men, so are safer.


Please stop repeating the tired, disproven propaganda that every bad thing in the world is because of homosexuality. That's heshy's job.

This story brings to mind something that happened 25 years ago. A frum social worker told the Bostoner Rebbe there was no place a social worker could turn if he had a question on going to the authorities with a patient issue. The Rebbe had the social worker address the Agudah Nesius, where rabbi after rabbi said there was no issue here since he could always ask a competent posek. When the social worker asked the assembled rabbis who a competent posek was, none of them could give him an answer. As a result of that meeting the Nesius set up a three-member panel to handle such questions. One member was the late Rabbi Yitzchok Isbee. The panel did put one child molester out of business, but the panel itself did not last for very long.

This was in the late 1980s. As Koheles says, there is nothing new under the sun.

Chareidi rabbis, to the best of my knowledge, have no pastoral counseling training. So even if they're well meaning (and not all of them are) they wouldn't know how to handle it.

ItsTheParentsStupid-You are right but dont forget theese parents grew up looking as the rebbes as gods infallible,they are hypnotized by their upbringing to tottaly be obedient like automatons robots,yes there are parents who break out of this hynosis but not many tragecally,just like in a cult they are paralyzed with fear of being labeled as masers or traitors to the cause.

When my child told me she had been sexually abused by a relative, I believed her. Even though I was shocked. I called the police immediately, and Baruch Hashem I did. It turns out the abuse was much worse than anybody could have imagined. I was not going to bring her in front of a skeptical rabbi or beit din who may not have believed her and are more concerned with protocol than with my precious daughter's safety. NOBODY is going to tell me that anything is more important than protecting my daughter.

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