Parents and a local rabbi say police bungled arrests and that resulted in setting at least one of the pedophiles, said to be the group's ringleader, free. In a letter to the community, Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz says more than 100 neighborhood children were molested, almost all of them haredi, and he announces a public meeting to be held with police and social services.
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Dear friends, neighbors and Nachlaot community members,
We have been given the unique privilege to live in the center of the city which is the center of the world. The Nachlaot community is one of a kind, steward to a vision of Torah, spirit, love and respect for those who are different. I have often felt that this precious energy is the energetic legacy of the gedolei yisrael who lived here, R Shlomo Zalman Orbach zt’l and Rav Aryeh Levine zt’l, among other great Yerushalmim of yesteryear.
A great darkness has come over our community. I am sorry to have to share with any of you who may be hearing this for the first time that over 100 children, almost exclusively from the charedi camp, have been molested by a circle of despicable sexual predators living amongst us. While a few of these monsters have been put behind bars, there are others who continue to walk free due to a lack of hard evidence, and the problematic nature of child testimony. I was personally told by the social service official in charge of interviewing the children that there is no doubt that some of these men are guilty, only a lack of admissible evidence. It appears likely that the police and social services have been grossly derelict in the investigation, and it is clear that the legal system lacks the tools to return safety to our streets in reasonable time.
There will be a public meeting at the Lev Hair [i.e., Lev Ha’Ir] building, 42 Ohel Moshe st on Tuesday the 17th of Kislev (Dec. 13th). The police and social services will be represented. It is critical that every home is represented there, whether you have kids or not. The authorities have not demonstrated any sense of urgency in addressing the situation, and this meeting is a chance to send them a clear message. Please make sure you are there. At this meeting we will discuss organizing patrols and acts of protest to return safety to our streets.
Considering the situation, and for the time being, I strongly urge parents to be vigilant regarding there [sic] children’s supervision. Children should not be out alone at this time. Parents should seek professional guidance on educating their children about body safety, please do so with care so as not to imbue them with fear.
I want to give some guidance on the laws of Lashon Hara in these situations. While it is forbidden to believe slander based on hearsay, it is permitted and even mandatory to warn people if there is suspicion of danger, including names and pictures. This is a delicate balance, as we are called in these situations to not change our attitude towards suspects until proven guilty, but to adjust our behavior with them in order to protect our children. This is a challenging if not impossible balance to achieve, none the less it is what the Halacha requires in order to protect both the suspect until proven guilty, and the children from harm. Anyone with direct knowledge or evidence of misdoing in these areas is required by Halacha to report it to the appropriate authorities.
My dear friends, Chanukah is coming. This was an event where we discovered that in the end the darkness will lose to the light, and that even within the darkness there is hidden light. I know it is not easy, but I bless us to have faith in that light, to draw strength from Hashem and from each other, and to continue to live proudly and believe in our community and our neighborhood.
R’ Aaron Leibowitz
The letter's postscript went on to name the released ringleader and warn parents to protect their children from him.
The pedophile's name – which I have known for several months – has not been published in Israel and the charges against him were dropped allegedly because parents and community members and untrained theraqpists they hired before contacting police corrupted evidence.
As you can see from the letter, Rabbi Leibowitz doesn't deal with the specifics of the police allegations against those therapists, the parents and, perhaps, against him. He just accuses the police of incompetence.
Rabbis, untrained therapists and parents need to understand that it takes a lot of specific training to do a proper forensic child sex abuse investigation, and trying to do one without that training almost always destroys evidenceand corrupts evidence – which can easily result in the alleged pedophile walking free.