Rabbi Yaakov Behrman, the director of media relations for the official Chabad Lubavitch News Service, writes in the Forward:
…As the law currently stands, victims and their families have the ability to seek the advice of a rabbi with confidence that their allegations will not be disclosed. Parents of victims are often terrified of the psychological effect a public trial would have on victims and their families. Victims often go to the rabbi for support, afraid to report the abuse directly to the authorities, afraid of being intimidated or impugning the reputation of an otherwise-respected member of the community, and afraid that public knowledge will hurt their chances of finding a suitable bride or groom in their community. It is in such cases that the rabbis play an invaluable part; they are often able to persuade a reluctant victim to come forward and testify. To paraphrase what one rabbi told a victim: “I do not say that you may report this crime to the police, I say you must report it to the police.”
It is my opinion that far fewer victims will come forward if they know that the rabbi is required to report their allegations to the authorities.
I strongly believe that only a small minority of rabbis advises against reporting to the police. And in today’s day and age, the number of victims who come forward because of rabbinic and community support is much greater than the number of victims who are advised by their rabbis to remain silent.
If Hynes is successful with his legislation, victims who are struggling with shame and uncertain as to whether to pursue charges have nowhere to go for emotional support. And they may end up keeping the information secret altogether.
Yaacov Behrman is the director of media relations for Chabad Lubavitch News Service. The views expressed above are his own.
Despite frequent examples of rabbis not reporting abuse and rabbis threatening victims who want to report child sexual abuse to police, Behrman thinks the law should not be changed in order to make their non-reporting a crime.
This from a man whose own employer, the Chabad-Lubavitch 'news' service, has not written a word about the massive child sexual abuse scandal rocking Chabad's Australian headquarters. In fact, no one from Chabad's International Headquarters in Brooklyn has said anything to condemn or distance itself from the alleged coverup conducted by its Australian headquarters and the intimidation and harassment of alleged victims by Chabad leaders there. And no one – not Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, not Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov, not Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky – have said anything to console or support the alleged victims (of which there are, at this point, at least a dozen vetted by police).
The Chabad community's behavior toward the alleged victims is so offensive that police have condemned it in open court.
This morning I asked Behrman to comment:
I need comment on the Yeshiva Center case in Melbourne. Zvi Telsner just barred Zephania Waks, the father of the leading alleged victim of David Cyprys, from receiving aliyot. This follows a dvar Torah Telsner gave in which he said that people who inform on Chabad will be excommunicatd. Because Telsner is a shaliach and does run Yeshiva Centre (and in effect all of Chabad in Australia), what he says is what Merkos and Aguch believe – unless Kotlarsky, Shemtov or Krinsky distance Chabad from it.
1. Is it Chabad's policy to retaliate against or harass child sexual abuse victims and their supporters?
2. No staff member of Chabad's Yeshiva Center has been fired or reprimanded for their roles in covering up the allegations of child sexual abuse by Chabad employees David Cyprys, David Kramer, and others. Is it Chabad's position that it is permissible for shluchim and Chabad community members to harass and retaliate against people who say they were victimized by pedophiles who were in Chabad's employ and to do so while criminal proceedings against the alleged pedophile are in progress?
3. The behavior of the late Rabbi Y.D. Groner, Rabbi Avrohom Glick, Reuven Tatarka, and others appears to clearly violate Chabad's supposed police of reporting child sex abuse allegations to police. Has Chabad reprimanded Glick or Tatarka? Has any action been taken against them by Merkos or Aguch? Has either Merkos or Aguch apologized to the alleged victims for these breeches?
Behrman did not answer.