Hella Winston has a long magazine length article in the Jewish Week about child sex abuse in Lakewood, New Jersey – a "company town" controlled by Beis Medrash Govoha, better known as Lakewood Yeshiva or BMG.
Lakewood rabbis allegedly make sure victims do not report child sex abuse to police. The few who fail to listen to the rabbis suffer from extortion and ostracism, threats of violence and, in some cases, allegedly violence that includes arson.
Lakewood's Rosh Yeshiva, Malkiel Kotler, sits on Agudath Israel of America's Council of Torah Sages (the Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah), and it's Mashgiach Ruchanai, Rabbi Mattisyahu Salamon, is a favored Agudah speaker.
Here is a brief excerpt from The Jewish Week article:
…[T]here are no public advocacy groups in Lakewood helping victims and agitating for change. Further, unlike Brooklyn, which is home to myriad haredi groups with no centralized “governing” body, the Lakewood community, dominated by BMG — which boasts over 6,000 students and an annual operating budget approaching $25 million — is something of a company town, residents and observers say. Indeed, the brothers who run BMG, Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler and Rabbi Aaron Kotler, exert considerable control over daily life within the community, with the bylaws of the Lakewood Jewish Community Council stating that the “community is centered around [BMG] … and [the council] functions at the pleasure of [the yeshiva heads] as represented by R. Malkiel Kotler.”
This control — bolstered by the geographically bounded and insular nature of the community — means that it can be even harder for Lakewood residents to overcome the communal taboo and report abuse to the authorities than it is for their counterparts in Brooklyn.
“Most victims of abuse and parents in Lakewood are afraid to speak up because [they fear being threatened by rabbis],” Debbie Rudin, a victim of childhood sexual abuse who now lives in Lakewood, told The Jewish Week.
“There are many Jewish communities that are controlled by the rabbonim [rabbis] of their towns that set certain standards, whether in regards to businesses, giving kosher supervision or allowing schools to open,” said Harold (Hershel) Hershkowitz, a Lakewood businessman who ran (and lost) for the Lakewood Township Committee on an anti-cronyism platform against the BMG-backed candidate. “But all of these are controlled in an open manner well understood by all that live there,” he said. “Lakewood, on the other hand, has a cabal that controls most Jewish publications, websites and of course the political arena, in order to exert full influence whenever it is necessary in order to keep their position of influence.”
Rubin and Hershkowitz are two of numerous Lakewood residents, therapists, educators, social workers and community activists, as well as seven abuse victims interviewed by The Jewish Week in the course of a months-long investigation into the abuse situation there and how it is being handled. An interest in maintaining communal control, they say, is a major factor in the rabbinic and lay leadership’s desire to deal with abuse in ways that do not involve law enforcement.
Indeed, the court testimony described above affords a rare public glimpse into what New Jersey Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson characterized as Lakewood’s “parallel justice system.”…
You can read the entire article here.