"…The case of Mr. Levy and Ms. Goldsobel (both of whom had previously come to me for counseling) went before a Crown Court jury on two occasions. Ultimately verdicts of not guilty on all rape charges and any other charges relating to post-16 activity were entered on the court record. The court was however satisfied that sexual conduct had started before Goldsobel was 16 and that it followed as a matter of law that she could not have consented to that activity, regardless of whether she had been a willing partner.…"
Originally published at 10:08 pm CDT 7-21-2013
Rabbi Chaim Rapoport sent the following letter to the Australian victims' rights group Tzedek:
I have stated my opinion in numerous public forums that paedophiles, as all criminals who constitute a threat to society, should be incarcerated in jail, if necessary – for life, the primary reason being: to protect their potential victims from abuse. I have likewise stated unequivocally that victims and those with knowledge or reasonable suspicion of abuse in the Jewish community must report such cases to the legal authorities in order to ensure that the victims are fully supported, the criminals are penalized and society is protected. I decry those people who exhibit a grotesque lack of sympathy or attempt to belittle the trauma suffered by victims, or, worse still, perversely portray the predators (and their active or passive accomplices) as the victims and cruelly penalise and ostracise victims and their families. I support institutions that are designed to help victims. I myself have been instrumental in setting up support apparatus for victims and have asserted myself to help them in every possible way. Now to the issue at hand:
The case of Mr. Levy and Ms. Goldsobel (both of whom had previously come to me for counseling) went before a Crown Court jury on two occasions. Ultimately verdicts of not guilty on all rape charges and any other charges relating to post-16 activity were entered on the court record. The court was however satisfied that sexual conduct had started before Goldsobel was 16 and that it followed as a matter of law that she could not have consented to that activity, regardless of whether she had been a willing partner. Yet, when sentencing Levy, the judge stated explicitly that he does not constitute a threat to society.
From a Jewish perspective, even if the woman was over the age of 16 when (as the defendant claimed) a long-term consensual sexual affair began, the relationship undoubtedly constituted a transgression of Jewish Law and arguably an ethical misdemeanor. It was in this context that I stated in court that the age of legal consent is somewhat arbitrary, because whether a girl is 15 or 16 does not mitigate the religious misdemeanor and cannot truly be determinant in deciding whether the relationship was exploitative in nature. A clandestine relationship between a 16 or 17 year old girl and a man some ten years her senior may well be exploitative and constitute a breach of trust. Therefore, even according to the defendant’s version of the events, the woman was correct in not allowing the matter to be ignored and when she consulted with me, I offered her empathetic advice, encouragement and pastoral support. It is for this reason that, even before the case came to court, I counseled the defendant on penitential and spiritual ‘rectification’ and prescribed measures for his continuous ethical and religious rehabilitation, including the provision of financial assistance for the sexually offended.
Given the defendant’s personal and family circumstances, his current lifestyle, and the assertion (shared by the judge) that he does not constitute a threat to society, it has been argued that in his case punitive and corrective measures other than jail may be more appropriate and helpful. It was in this context that I gave a current character reference about the defendant whom I have observed on an almost daily basis and personally counseled on many occasions. I have witnessed, over a number of years, his penitence and his progressive transformation from the religiously and morally wayward paths of his younger years. It is my impression that he is now a changed man, an ethically responsible member of the community in addition to being a good husband and father to his (soon) six young children. It is of course beyond my remit and area of expertise to determine the nature of the penalty, but it is my prerogative, if not duty, to provide the judge with information that may be relevant to his decision.
What Rapoport does not say is telling.
Levy continues to deny that he abused Goldsobel and he has consistently refused to apologize to her.
His family and friends – and, indeed, a large part of London's Chabad community – have spent the better part of two years defaming Goldsobel and slandering her in any way you can possibly imagine.
Goldsobel was at oldest 14 when the abuse began – not Rapoport's cloyly stated "15 or 16," and Rapoport very clearly implies that she wanted the sex and asked for it. Worse yet, Rapoport did not tell Goldsobel to report Levy to police.
The judge's finding about Levy's risk of re-offence is not the same thing as a court-appointed psychiatrist expert in child sexual abuse finding that, and as far as I know, no such finding was ever made.
Levy comes from a prominent London Chabad family with money. Goldsobel does not.
In short, Rapoport – a prominent British Chabad rabbi who functions at the highest levels of Orthodoxy in Great Britain – is being extremely disengenous.
Make no mistake about what Rapoport did. He testified in order to keep an admitted (to him, not to the court) child sexual abuser out of prison on the most flimsy and dubious grounds.
He is no different from the rabbis who actively enable or cover up child sexual absue.
As for Levy, he was sentenced to three years in prison.
Levy is appealling that decision with the support of Rapoport and a large part of Levy's Chabad community.
Related Menachem Mendel Levy Child Sexual Assault Posts: