The Australian Royal Commission investigation Chabad child sex abuse continues to have repercussions. This time, a Jewish newspaper staffer allegedly tried to help an abuse victim show a Chabad rabbi (pictured at right) was lying – and that staffer is now being punished by his newspaper for doing so, despite the fact that the newspaper should have exposed the lies itself but did not do so.
Above: Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant
AJN Staff Member Who Allegedly Leaked Damning Text Messages Sent By Chabad Rabbi Has Been Suspended By The AJN
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Chabad Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant was the president of the Organization of Rabbis in Australasia until he resigned early this week after being caught lying under oath to Australia’s Royal Commission investigation child sex abuse at Chabad institutions.
Kluwgant also resigned from several other positions of communal leadership but remains the lead shochet (ritual slaughterer) for the Chabad community despite repeatedly lying under oath.
Kluwgant testified to the Royal Commission that he was supportive of victims and wa a campaigner to end child sex abuse, and claimed to have used his position as a police chaplain to further those aims. When asked about an attempt he made to silence a victim (detailed below), Kluwgant claimed he did so not knowing the man was a victim – a lie – and because it was better for the community to speak with one unified voice and not a cacophony of voices.
At the end of his testimony, Kluwgant was asked if he had sent text messages to the editor of the Australian Jewish News, Zeddy Lawrence, as Zephaniah Waks, the father of child sex abuse victim Manny Waks, was testifying before the commission the previous week, text messages that said that Zephaniah Waks was “attacking Chabad,” is “a lunatic on the fringe,” “guilty of neglect of his own children,” and is destroying Chabad.
A stunned Kluwgant stammered and did not answer.
The Waks' attorney, Melinda Richards, repeated the question.
A thoroughly embarrassed Kluwgant answered that he had indeed sent those text messages.
As he made that admission, gasps could be heard throughout the courtroom.
A staff member of the AJN allegedly sent a transcript of the Kluwgant’s text messages to Lawrence to Manny Waks, who gave them to his attorney.
That AJN employee has reportedly been suspended with full pay pending the outcome of an investigation into his alleged actions – even though it was the AJN's ethical responsibility as journalists to expose Kluwgant's lies to Royal Commission.
In 2011, a victim only known publicly as AVB sent an email to the Chabad Yeshivah Centre community asking victims to come forward and the community to cooperate with the police investigation into child sex abuse at Chabad’s Yeshivah Centre.
Kluwgant – a police chaplain – admitted he reprimanded AVB and told him that he should not have sent that email.
“What [AVB] was not aware of was that I had done significant work with Victoria Police and the leadership of the Yeshivah to ensure that there was cooperation between the Yeshivah and Victoria Police in gathering the information that they required. I did not know he was a victim at that time, and you mentioned I know now that he is a victim and, knowing now that he’s a victim, I absolutely would not have made that comment to him. I would in fact have encouraged him and been prepared to co-sign, if he would have been interested,” Kluwgant told the Royal Commission in testimony given under oath.
However, documents filed with the Royal Commission reportedly appear to prove that Kluwgant knew AVB was a victim of child sex abuse before Kluwgant used AVB’s email to tell the Chabad Yeshivah Centre community in his own email, sent of June 20, 2014, not to encourage victims to go to police.
“I maintain my view that the matter of child sexual abuse should be left in the hands of Victoria Police and that individuals (victims or otherwise) should allow the police to do their work and not interfere with the process by going to the media or publishing or widely distributing emails,” Kluwgant wrote.
Kluwgant was forced to resign his position as police chaplain late last week.