Michael Lesher, attorney for several victims of Avrohom Mondrowitz, and Amy Neustein, an activist on behalf of those victims for many years, have a letter in the Jewish Press. Other activist who have worked long and hard on the Mondrowitz case are upset with this section of the Lesher-Neusten letter:
…You are also correct in deploring the fact that Mondrowitz “was indicted in 1984 only in connection with the charges made by the parents of non-Jewish children.”But to blame the Jewish victims’ parents for their “apparent disinclination to come forward” is not really fair. Those parents did not act of their own accord. Our extensive information indicates that there were rabbis who were aware of at least dozens of Orthodox Jewish Mondrowitz victims when the official charges were being assembled. Rather than helping the victims’ families to seek justice against the man whose alleged crimes had so devastated a community, these rabbis either took no action or actively discouraged the families from taking part in the law enforcement process against Mondrowitz. When he fled to Israel, they again counseled silence, leaving the victims and their advocates to pursue the case without any support from their spiritual leaders.…
The argument is that Lesher and Neustein let parents off the hook too easily. Sure rabbis were terrible but, in the end, rabbis were only successful in covering for Mondrowitz (and Kolko and so many others) because parents let rabbis be successful. If parents had simply gone to police, Mondrowitz would have been stopped years ago, and many children would have been saved a life of torment caused by Mondrowitz's sexual abuse.
In Lesher's defense, he does represent victims. Criticizing these victims' parents may not be the wisest move for Lesher to make.
Still, the criticism here is spot on in the sense that parents must be made to understand the proper way to resolve a sexual assault against their prepubescent son or daughter is not to run to rabbis seeking redress. The beit din system is not equipped to deal with this type of criminal assault, and the results of relying on rabbis are, well, far less than stellar – just ask any of the boys, now men, Avrohom Mondrowitz anally raped in Brooklyn while haredi rabbis diddled.
A parent's first instinct should be to protect their child – it should not be to protect their rabbis' reputations or their other children's marriage prospects.
For anything to change, this lesson must be learned. For it to be learned, those haredi parents who instead choose to remain silent, to acquiesce to rabbis' inappropriate demands, and to abandon their children to the haredi omerta must be made to pay a price. That price must include some public censure.
It is never okay to allow a child rapist to escape justice, even if by doing so you spare your rabbis embarrassment, your schools lawsuits, and your other children shidduch troubles.
I've written this before but it is worth repeating. Would you allow a murderer to walk free and murder again if by doing so your children got better shidduchim (marriage partners)?
Certainly, there is no moral or halakhic question here. Jewish law mandates that you stop that murderer. A child abuser is not much different from a murderer. He destroys the lives of children, robs them of joy and happiness, and haunts them for their entire lives.
Yet these parents did just that. They allowed Mondrowitz and Kolko and others to rape their way through Brooklyn and justified this by the idea that they needed to protect their other children, not from the child rapists, mind you, but from less choice shidducim.
Yes, leading haredi rabbis made terrible decisions. They broke the law, they protected child rapists in order to save themselves and their institutions from legal jeopardy. They sold their souls to the devil, so to speak, and condemned other people's children to a lifetime of unimaginable suffering.
These rabbis need to be outed, publicly shamed, sued civilly and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
But none of this excuses a parent who sacrifices her child – and other people's children, as well – on the altar of a "good" family name and a better shidduch.
That this point has to be made by anyone, let alone a blogger, is perhaps the greatest indictment of the haredi world there will ever be.