"The police arrested Oberlander because the camp accused him of tresspassing and signed a formal complaint. Otherwise Oberlander, who had permission to do a food delivery would have been let go. So parents, ask yourself, would the Bobov dayan allow mesirah just because he walked in the wrong area? After all his last criminal charge was ten years ago and he claims to have done tshuvah."
Bobov's Camp Shalva, the site of the molestation 'non-molestation' allegedly committed by a food deliveryman, Yoel Oberlander, closes for the season today.
In an open letter to parents of those campers, Yerachmiel Lopin pleads with them to ask their children about what happened in the camp the night Yoel Oberlander entered that bunkhouse, to tell the kids that there isn't a (true) answer to what happened that is wrong, and that the campers did nothing wrong. Listen to your kids, he implores them, and then get professional psychological help for them if there was sexual abuse.
When your child comes back from camp tomorrow you have to listen to them. Notice, I did not say talk to them. They have already been talked to [by Bobov leaders who reportedly told them to deny any sexual abuse happened], now they need to know that you will listen to them instead of telling them what to say and think. Be sure to give them your undivided attention and not to rush this discussion. Let them know you were upset that someone bad got into their bunk. Let them know that it was the grownup who went into the bunk who was bad, not the children. Let them know that if he touched you or any other boys, you are angry at that grownup, not at the boys. Be sure to let your son know that if he was touched you are not angry at the boy, but could understand why he would be upset. Most importantly, to protect your children in the future, you must tell them that if anyone touches you improperly you should always tell me as quickly as possible so I can make sure it won’t happen again. Make sure they know that no one has the right to say they should keep such a thing a secret.
If nothing happened to your son you are lucky and you have taught them something that will protect them in the future.
Lopin also asks:
The police arrested Oberlander because the camp accused him of tresspassing and signed a formal complaint. Otherwise Oberlander, who had permission to do a food delivery would have been let go. So parents, ask yourself, would the Bobov dayan allow mesirah just because he walked in the wrong area? After all his last criminal charge was ten years ago and he claims to have done tshuvah.
Would the Bobover's chief halakhic authority have allowed the camp to call police if all Oberlander really did was trespass?
That depends more on whether camp officials had been tipped off that the alleged abuse had been reported to child welfare and police by activists, I think, than it does on whether or not Oberlander sexually abused kids.
And for all we know, the Bobover dayan's ruling may very well have been don't call police unless you know that the cat is out of the bag and someone else has already reported – then CYA and report, but make sure the kids know they have to lie to the police and deny the abuse happened.
Shortly after 4:00 am, Yoel Oberlander walked from his delivery area to the other side of the camp, passing several open buildings with restrooms. He entered the bunkhouse housing 12- and 13-year-old-boys and then entered individual rooms. He was in these rooms more long enough to fondle children.
Those are the facts.
No parent – not even a Bobover parent trying to please his sect's hierarchy or to avoid retribution from it – has any excuse in 2012 for ignoring them.
The lives of children come before any of that.