Sunday, March 23, 2008

Vicki Polin responds to Phil Jacobs article - Yisroel Shapiro Isn't Shackled, His Survivors Are.

Vicki Polin responds to Phil Jacobs article - Yisroel Shapiro Isn't Shackled, His Survivors Are.
By Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC
Rabbi Yisroel Shapiro - Convicted Sex Offender
Judge John P. Miller of the Baltimore City Circuit Court basically gave Israel (Yisroel) Shapiro’s a slap on the hand after entering an Alford plea on criminal sexual abuse charges.  Besides being a former bar-mitzvah teacher, Yisroel Shapiro is an ordained orthodox rabbi. This is a fact that appears to have been downplayed in the media and the community.

Yisroel Shapiro was sentenced to perform 300 hours of community service and to pay $10,800 in restitution to those he criminally sexually abused. This is a far cry from the 1.2 million dollars that survivors in California were awarded.  The message sent out by Judge Miller is that the pain and suffering of those who were victimized in Maryland does not have as much value as those who were sexually violated in California.
The court also ordered that is to keep away from anyone under the age of 18, must also undergo sex offender screening and treatment and is also prohibited from using a computer to contact children.
The problem is that our community continues to fail to protecting our children.  On February 20th, the Vaad (Jewish Religious Court) put together a program in which David Mandel of Ohel (mental health agency in NYC), basically told the audience not to report sex crimes to law enforcement, yet instead to report crimes to our rabbonim.
Due to the archaic laws in Maryland, and that this state is not in compliance with the federal mandate, Yisroel Shapiro will not be placed on the sex offender registry at this time.  Considering this, we need to be asking who’s going to notify the parents in Shapiro’s neighborhood that he is a danger to their children?
The scary part about all of this is the fact that Yisroel Shapiro is employed at a kosher butcher shop One in which children can be seen going in and out of with their parents.  Shapiro also lives on a street in which many children also reside.  He also prays three times a day in a minyon in which children are present.  Who’s going to be monitoring his activities to insure he is not alone with children?
It is a known fact that Rabbi Yisroel Shapiro davens (prays) at Congregation Darchei Tzedek.  For many months The Awareness Center has been demanding that Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz make public a safety plan to insure the safety of the children in his shul. To this date this has not occurred.  The goal is prevent anymore children from being harmed.  The Awareness Center’s goal is to offer hope, healing and a voice to all Jewish survivors of sex crimes.


Yisroel Shapiro Isn't Shackled, His Survivors Are
Phil Jacobs
March 12, 2008

Last week in Judge Miller's courtroom, suspects were herded in and out for various crimes, including attempted murder to drug possession with the intent to distribute.

The one constant sound in the room was the jingling of the chains connecting the leg irons while the accused made their way into the courtroom escorted by armed prison guards.

One of the only members of the fraternity of the accused not wearing handcuffs or shackles was Yisroel Shapiro.

Tall, bearded, wearing a yarmulke and a suit, he stood out. He could have been a court employee, an attorney or just another spectator.

Here was a man who was about to be given a guilty sentence for two counts of molestation. While the majority of the other suspects in the room left with their jewelry locked on their wrists and ankles, Mr. Shapiro, after hearing the sentence and hearing the emotional words of his accusers sauntered out into the courtroom hallway.

He was free to go.

He will not spend a second in jail.

He will not be listed on a sex offenders registry.

Shapiro got a good deal. Again, my oft-remembered words of Ephraim Shapiro survivor Murray Levin, it's all reward and no risk came to mind.

Until we get the law to change. Until we can get our legislators and our Jewish organizations such as the Jewish Council to understand Monday's true failure of justice, Yisroel Shapiro goes unshackled.

The survivors of sexual molestation in the state of Maryland, are very much handcuffed.

The template for justice must be changed to unlock those cuffs, so that survivors are free to live their lives. Until someone in the organized Jewish community or the political community gets “brave” I worry that I’ll never see it happen.

I "hear" the sounds of chains dragging across the floor. Only it's the innocent who wear those chains, not guilty felons such as Yisroel Shapiro or his ilk.

There's something very wrong about that.


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