The Australian is expected to apologize for allegedly misquoting the former president of the Organization of Rabbis of Australasia (ORA), Rabbi Dovid Freilich as saying that 95% of Australian rabbis believe that child sexual abuse allegations should be dealt with by rabbis, not by police or child protection services.
Rabbi Says He Was Misquoted On Child Sexual Abuse
Shmarya Rosenberg • Failedmessiah.com
According to a report in the Australian Jewish News, the national newspaper The Australian is expected to apologize for allegedly misquoting the former president of the Organization of Rabbis of Australasia (ORA), Rabbi Dovid Freilich.
The Australian reported Freilich said that 95% of Australian rabbis believe that child sexual abuse allegations should be dealt with by rabbis, not by police or child protection services.
“Perth rabbi Dovid Freilich estimates that 95 per cent of Australian rabbis believe these matters should be dealt with internally. He was president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia at the time the Yeshivah scandal erupted and resigned after his call for full co-operation with police drew criticism from the membership. ‘I was castigated by other rabbis. They don't talk to me anymore. I regard it as a compliment…The law of the land is the law of the land,’ he says, dismissing the idea that victims should go to a priest or a rabbi rather than use the courts,” The Australian reported last weekend.
Freilich praised the article the above quote was printed in, reportedly telling the AJN that whatever can be done to end sexual abuse of children is to be commended and encouraged. But he also said that he was misquoted.
“I believe that the vast majority of rabbis in Australia firmly and categorically support the immediate reporting of child abuse to the police. This was always the official stance of the ORA,” Freilich wrote in a letter to The AJN and The Australian this week.
Kate Legge, The Australian’s senior writer who reported the story that allegedly misquoted Freilich, reportedly apologized to him earlier this week when Freilich contacted her.
She also reportedly told Freilich that The Australian, “will clarify the comment on the letter page next week.”
Australia’s libel laws are considered to be the most draconian in the Western world, so heavily weighted against the press that even demonstrably true statements about criminal acts committed by an individual can lead to lawsuits and judgements for for that individual.
Freilich has previously been quoted as saying that, "when it comes to molestation and child abuse it is a mitzvah to go right to the authorities – 100 per cent.”
In 2011, he called for Rabbinical Council of NSW (RCNSW) president Chabad Rabbi Yosef Feldman to resign after Feldman wrote a series of emails arguing that child sexual abuse allegations should not be reported to police or child protection services due to the Jewish laws of mesirah (the prohibition against informing) and lashon hara (gossip).