Allegations have been made that children from the same family have been molesting other children in the neighborhood. It has been suggested that the alleged offending children are "sexually reactive". Allegations have also been a made against the parents of the alleged juvenile offenders.
Table of Contents:
- Children and young people who display sexually harmful behavior
- Letter to the Kemp Mill Neighborhood - Silver Spring, MD (02/04/2004)
- Letters to the Editor of the Florida Jewish News
- An open letter to the readers of the Florida Jewish News - By Rabbi Joseph Korf (08/05/2005)
- Statement By The Chabad Community of Greater Boynton Beach By Rabbi Sholom Ciment (08/05/2005)
- An open letter to the readers of The Florida Jewish News By Alan Zavodnick (08/23/2005)
- More Reader response to Maryland abuse case (08/23/2005)
- Sexually Reactive Children and Juvenile Sex Offenders
Research studies show that between 25-40 per cent of all alleged sexual abuse involves young perpetrators.
The majority of those who display sexually harmful behaviour are adolescent males, but young children and females also commit sexually harmful acts. There are few figures regarding the ethic origin of children with sexually harmful behaviour. Children and young people with learning disabilities are over-represented within this group but the reason why is not fully understood.
Sexual behaviour as displayed by children and young people exists on a continuum from mutually agreed experimentation through to harmful, abusive exploitation.
The majority of these children and young people have been or are being sexually, physically and/or emotionally abused themselves.
The following letter was sent to various families in the Kemp Mills Neighborhood in Silver Spring, MD.
DEPARTMENT OF POLICE
2350 Research Boulevard
Rockville, Maryland 20850-3294
Douglas M. Duncan - County Executive
To Whom It May Concern:
The Montgomery County Police Famly Crimes Division has received allegations of possible sexual assaults that may have occurred in the Kemp Mill neighborhood. These Allegations involve juveniles and therefore we cannot disclose specifics about the investigation. However, your name has been brought to our attention as a possible witness/victim. The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the allegations exist and to ask you to contact the below listed detectives if you have any information that may assist in the investigation.
By Rabbi Joseph Korf
The Florida Jewish News - August 05, 2005
I write this open letter after having just read an attack piece against the members of the Synagogue of Boynton Beach, published by the Florida Jewish News.
Before going any further, however, let me state that its editor is a fine young man, with fine Jewish values, and has done a great service to South Florida by publishing a "real" Jewish newspaper, in contrast to the entrenched "phony". What bothers me about this particular article, however, is that it goes against the grain and philosophy I've always attributed to the editor and his fine work for the Jewish community. Not only does it not contain a response from the rabbi of the synagogue, it is undeniably a piece of "lashon ha'ra" of the first order.
Incidentally, "lashon ha'ra" doesn't necessarily mean "slander", because the Torah forbids its dissemination even if it's the truth. What makes it even worse is the amount of space and effort put into reporting what is nothing more than malicious gossip.
Furthermore, this article also misleads the public into believing that some nefarious goings-on or cover-up has been unearthed and now must be displayed, prominently and extensively, for all to read. Additionally, we are talking here about an orthodox shul that Chabad has established in a community. A bulwark of "yiddishkeit" and "chessed" founded and administered by a young Lubavitch couple with their blood, sweat and tears, in a matter of a few short years. They came into the community, as so many other Shluchim do throughout the world, with no financial assistance to realize a dream; to establish an edifice, organization and activities to rival any other shul in the Palm Beach or Broward County Jewish communities. Is this article worth all the harm it will cause? Does a sensational news scoop copied from a New Jersey newspaper outweigh the responsibility one has (even as a journalist) to spare an entire community of Jews from mortification, even if the sordid details are true? Is the Florida Jewish News transforming itself to becoming another cheap supermarket tabloid rag?
For the record, let me state now that I've done my own investigation. I heard the other side of the story that seems to have been conspicuously left out and received a comprehensive and detailed printed statement from the rabbi of the Boynton Beach Synagogue, Rabbi Sholom Ciment. In it, he clearly outlines the facts that have brought him to this painful decision. Furthermore, Rabbi Ciment advised me that he sent the same exact statement to the editor of the Florida Jewish News upon his request for comment; yet, the newspaper saw fit not to print it. I stand aghast at this "smear" piece, which seems to have no other purpose than its prurience and design in tarnishing the image of the rabbi and his community. Rabbi Ciment informed me as well, as he told the editor of the Florida Jewish News, that he was unable to elaborate because of a $150 million Federal lawsuit which is pending in the Maryland courts, which he, and his community have been dragged into. This is in addition to threats by the accused family's lawyer to sue him personally as well. What makes this lengthy story even more egregious and problematic is the following two points:
First, by accepting the veracity of this family's claims, the Florida Jewish News (FJN) and its editor failed to give any understanding to the synagogue and its rabbi. Is the rabbi supposed to be a prophet? Here, as the story reports, the rabbi welcomed them "with open arms", something he was not required to do, but did so out of love and empathy based on Chabad philosophy, something, which many of the classic orthodox shuls wouldn't do. When confronted with a set of further allegations and the upheaval that the presence of this one family was causing, rightly or wrongly, to save his shul and its existence, he reacted in the best way he knew how. Especially an issue of such magnitude, as reported, which can tear at the very fabric of a well established community, he took the only alternative left open to him; after having given the family in question an option to remain within the community, (which they refused), Rabbi Ciment quietly and respectfully disengaged himself and his shul from what could become a flare-up of major proportions.
There is an old dictum in the Talmud, "ha'motzi m'chaveiro alav ha'raya." One (especially, a new member), who wishes to extract compliance and acceptance from others, has the onus to prove his claim. As long as doubt exists, and questions still linger, it is not the obligation of the community to accept the new individual who has just moved in. Yet, surprisingly enough, here you have reporters hurling unsubstantiated allegations exactly in the same manner they reported those two other families have done to the aggrieved and besmirched family. The writers of this verbose, trashy, gossip piece sullied and defiled the good name and work of a Chabad rabbi, who has done nothing but good and positive things. And so, what is his crime now? Protecting his shul and its members. Is this the uniqueness of the Florida Jewish News? Isn't this the nom deplume of the tabloid media?
Secondly, what is even more disturbing; this article now excoriates the rabbi for merely doing his duty in being cautious and prudent. Rabbi Ciment has never been, and is not now, involved in this sordid tale. He has done the kindness of accepting this family where other communities would not. Accusations against them are still being hurled of the kind that any rabbi who ignores them would be accused of dereliction of duty. I wonder what this newspaper would have written if those sordid allegations turned out to be true, and the rabbi allowed them to stay, and something would have happened to one of his members or their children, G-d forbid. You would, justifiably, see an article about negligence and incompetence for not having protected his community with cries for his dismissal. It seems that whatever course of action he takes, he is wrong. It is easy, in hindsight, to censure the rabbi for making a very difficult and tough decision; one that the editor thankfully didn't have to make!
Let's be very clear: The only one's who should have been taken to task - and where the story should have ended - was the troubled and fractured community from where this family came from and because of whom they were driven out. What did the orthodox community of Boynton Beach and its Rabbi do to deserve this kind of press?
Finally, as we enter the Three Weeks of Mourning, commemorating the destruction of our Holy Temple, due to baseless hatred – the editor of the FJN owes his readership and the Jewish community the duty to be fair and balanced and at least present the other side of the story. I therefore call for the publication of Rabbi Ciment's statement and the reprinting of this "open letter" as an apology for utilizing sensationalism as a means of attempting to destroy an outstanding Jewish and Torah institution. This action would be the proper "Tikkun" and path to "Teshuvah." It is not just a matter of protecting the rabbi's good name, although that should be reason enough. It is more for the sake of a "kehillat kodesh" which endeavors to do nothing but positive and kind things.
Dear editor of the Florida Jewish News, be truly unique and different, reverse a previous harm you have caused. Do it because it is right. Do it for the sake of Judaism and its continued success.
Rabbi Joseph Korf
Hollywood Community Synagogue
By Rabbi Sholom Ciment
The Florida Jewish News - August 05, 2005
The allegations made by several families in Silver Spring, Maryland several years ago and the ensuing community turmoil which it caused there, describe a horrific set of circumstances and a time period that was undoubtedly immensely painful for anyone involved.
The focus of our community, however, has never been the guilt or innocence of anyone. We leave that up to the proper authorities. Rather, when members of our community were told of the decision of the family to relocate to Boynton Beach, we were forced to deal with the very real panic and hysteria that overwhelmed our community due to allegations and accusations against this family that were being shared with our community members.
Like any parents, our community's primary concern was the safety and well being of its own children and families. No one can strip a parent of his or her right to protect their children from any troubling scenario, particularly where there is confusion being projected onto the situation.
We offered the family a solution that we believed would pacify our community concerns surrounding the situation and remove any remaining clouds of uncertainty that still lingered and followed them from the large and established Jewish community of Silver Springs. These allegations remained, and managed to split the community there, even after all of the investigations and information from established institutions, were concluded. If we were to err in asking the family for this solution, we wished to do so, on the side of protecting our own children versus importing a continuing, very confusing issue emanating from another state.
Out of respect for the privacy of the family and because this matter is now the subject of pending litigation in a federal district court in Maryland, we will not elaborate on the details of our proposal or the subsequent discussions with the family and their representatives regarding the proposal. While we were hopeful that the family would accept our proposed solution to a welcome transition into our community, it was obviously within their prerogative to reject it, which they did.
We certainly hope and pray that there can be closure regarding this matter so that they may begin the process of healing and moving on with their lives. We also hope and pray that this closure will allow our community, which has enjoyed and prided itself in its tranquil and truly loving environment to continue on unabated and undisturbed.
Rabbi Sholom Ciment
By Alan Zavodnick
The Florida Jewish News - Tuesday, 23 August 2005
Our community of Boynton Beach, Florida has been the target of some damaging press these past few weeks. From our perspective, this negativity is most undeserved, and unfortunately has found its way into the columns of your newspaper as well as a few others around the country.
It was our sincere expectation that a fire which began in Silver Spring, Maryland and had unexpectedly and unfortunately arrived to our community, would have extinguished itself in due time. We never anticipated that individuals and parties to this tragic situation, would find it useful to achieve their respective goals, to serve as accelerants, stoking the flames in an irresponsible manner, to the detriment of our community.
This letter is written with the intent of stating the facts as they occurred. I am an Executive Board Member of Chabad-Lubavitch of Greater Boynton, and was privy to the details of this saga as they unfolded, and I am very much current with the facts as they present themselves today.
The time for our community to defend itself from the damaging claims which have been made against it and our Rabbi, in a premeditated attack by a select few, IS NOW. It is time to make it abundantly clear to all, that what they believed happened, and what really transpired are NOT the same.
All of the published articles, including the ones printed in this paper, were written with the same slanted tenor. Truthfully, the editors cannot be blamed. It was the decision of the board, that the Rabbi, or any other official representative, be precluded from making ANY public comments or granting any interviews regarding this matter. Although the editors requested a response it could not be granted for reasons which will be addressed in a moment. Absent any feedback from our community, they published that which was being promoted as "the truth."
Our reasons for remaining silent while being attacked were two fold. 1) The ongoing federal multi million dollar lawsuit against the two accusatory families referenced our Rabbi and our Community. Since we became an issue before the courts, our Attorneys strongly advised us to remain silent. 2) Initially, we all empathized with the accused family and did not wish to add more aggravation and hurt, to their already painful situation.
Unfortunately, it has become abundantly clear, that the very victims of the disease of Loshon Harah, have now evolved into being the perpetrators of that very same destructive disease. They and their associates continue to attempt to denigrate, injure and damage the reputation of our blossoming community.
Our Rabbi has received letters and other hate-filled messages from members of the accused family and their associates containing highly derogatory remarks, as well as extortion threats against him and our Community. Their written threats include publishing "the story" in newspapers everywhere. Clearly, this part of their campaign has been borne, in part by this newspaper and others.
What remains puzzling is how our community became the target of this family. One would have expected that their anger, frustration and feelings for retaliation should have been focused on the Community where this issue raised its ugly head. After all, that is where they had their roots and where they had friends and associates to help plead their case. Their contention that this is all a fabrication would have been far easier to prove in an environment where they were a known commodity. Yet, it is Boynton Beach where they are a totally foreign entity, not Silver Spring; it is Rabbi Ciment and not the Silver Spring Community who have become the focus of their anger-filled campaign.
Allow me to focus on some of the more common fundamental issues which are raised in the articles:
1) "At first the family was welcomed with open arms"
It is true; the father and his family found a very sympathetic Chabad Rabbi on that first evening when he brought our Rabbi his dossier of documents which retold the horrific story of Silver Spring. Two pertinent facts are omitted, though, from this "warm welcome"; 1) The Rabbi welcomed him in a private consultation between a potential member, who had suffered tremendously in his past community, and was sharing with a Rabbi his heart-wrenching plight. Our Rabbi obviously did not, nor could he, know the future. The ugly fact that their sordid history followed them to our community, expressing in great detail all of the allegations against these people, triggered a wave of concerned panic and hysteria of extraordinary proportions. The Rabbi, as the community leader, needed to attend to what became a true emergency concern which was ripping through the community. 2) The articles also omit the fact that at the initial meeting, The Rabbi asked the father why all of the community Rabbis were not signed on the Rabbinic proclamation to the Silver Spring Jewish community asking them to cease and desist their activities. Only four of the community's Rabbis had signed, from amongst many. He was told the others simply didn't want to take a stand on the issue. Our Rabbi found this troubling, and asked the father to bring back to him a unanimous written decision from all the Rabbonim of the Silver Spring community. The Rabbi's objective was that in case anyone would ask, he would have in hand this document. Needless to say, until this day, that document has not been procured.
2) "The family was excommunicated from the Boynton Shul...The family was expelled from the community...Rabbi Ciment accused the family of damaging his community."
After being presented with the very real issue of legitimate concern which led to the panic and hysteria which was overwhelming our new and fledgling community, our Rabbi sought the counsel of a number of veteran Rabbonim, top experts in the Orthodox world in the field of child abuse (outside of any of the "controversial" public figures who are highlighted in these articles), and noted psychiatric and mental health professionals. The panel agreed with one resolution to this very complex dilemma; that an objective, Florida based, amenably chosen, expert psychiatrist should evaluate the alleged perpetrators of these horrible accusations, to make our community members comfortable that there is nothing to be concerned about. This consultation would obviously be kept totally confidential.
This solution was offered and rejected on three occasions by the accused family. Our Rabbi pleaded with them and their friends, to take this offer and allow themselves to be warmly welcomed into our community, in what would be a dignified and seamless transition. If they chose not to, though, the Rabbi cautioned them in writing, that it should never be said that we did not allow them in, rather that this was their own decision not to become a part of our community. It would be on their conscience for not having afforded their family the opportunity to join us.
To label this very professionally handled resolution as "an excommunication or an expelling of the family from our shul and community" is a travesty and a total distortion of the simple truth.
3) Description of Rabbi Ciment using phrases such as "lack of sanity," "vindictive," etc.
There have been hundreds of personal attacks leveled against our Rabbi by members of the accused family and their associates, in many forms. I will not use this space to defend our Rabbi against this incredible slander, I will rather "let the record speak for itself."
Simply put, there are a handful of disgruntled members who "didn't get their way," and thus have made it their mission to galvanize their bitterness around this "great humanitarian injustice" and have chosen the media as one of their weapons of attempted assassination.
I invite anyone to come and visit our community and shul and experience first hand our Rabbi, our beloved Kehilla, its array of learning opportunities for the young and old, its forever welcoming institutions of education, outreach and social services and its leadership.
4) "Dr. Arthur Small, the prime candidate for the testing within the community declared no need for evaluations...Rabbi Ciment continually lied to the community saying that Rabbi Yitzchok Breitowitz of Silver Spring backed his decision to evaluate the children"
In one of the newspapers in NJ which felt compelled to cover this story, Dr. Small himself wrote a letter to the editor to advise them that he was not an expert in pedophilia. As much as the accused family, who are close friends and neighbors of Dr. Small, tries to paint him as "the expert," anyone close to the case knows clearly that Dr. Small does not fit the criteria of the panel of experts who were guiding our Rabbi on this issue. Particularly because he is not Florida based, has deep personal connections with the accused family, and most importantly he himself admits, does not specialize in this field of psychiatry. This automatically invalidates him as the "expert" which we were seeking.
The Rabbi called Rabbi Breitowitz, a noted scholar and the accused family's spiritual advisor, as the panic began and told him of the great tumult "his exported Maryland family" was causing in our community. The Rabbi told him of the resolution which was being offered to the family. Rabbi Breitowitz concluded the call with the Rabbi expressing sincere empathy for his very troubling dilemma, and pledging to call the family to impress upon them the idea of the resolution.
This was the extent of the conversation. At the point when The Rabbi heard from a third party that Rabbi Breitowitz said that he only supported the evaluation if it wouldn't harm the children, but now he needs to defer to Dr. Small, the "expert." The Rabbi made it a point to immediately stop using Rabbi Breitowitz's name pertaining to any issue in this saga.
Unlike what the papers report, Rabbi Breitowitz never called our Rabbi to try and persuade him to accede to Dr. Small's opinion. In fact he never even called our Rabbi to alert him of the reversal of his decision.
It has to be bewildering to any thinking and responsible person, that a private psychological evaluation which would have been the bridge into an unquestioning and forever welcoming community for this family was deemed, "injurious." Yet, today, and for the rest of their lives these same minor children will find their names and ages printed in newspapers around the country and splashed all over the Internet, as being the alleged perpetrators of very detailed and very sordid, heinous crimes. I can only presume that all of this is being done with the knowledge, compliance and behest of their own parents. Curious.
Enough harm has been done. We never asked or dreamt in our worst nightmare that our community would be the doorstep for this problem. However, when it came to our community, our Rabbi dealt with it responsibly, with great sensitivity and caring, with professionalism, and of course Torah true values. For this, I am sure that our community will continue to grow, now, stronger than ever.
In addition to this bad publicity hurting our community, I cannot help but think that all of this controversy cannot be helping the family in their efforts to relocate into a normal life-setting in a Jewish community, wherever it might be.
In addition, those who might think we mishandled the situation, and have or will express themselves freely on these pages, perhaps they should expend their passionate energies on inviting this family into their communities ASAP and with open arms.
I, in the name of hundreds throughout our community, implore and beseech the press to stop allowing this vicious fire to continue to spread. If you want to educate the public about Loshon Horoh and/or sexual abuse in the Orthodox world, it certainly is your prerogative to do so. But it is simply not befitting any newspaper which calls itself Jewish to allow this very unfortunate saga to affect our community with lies and fabrications being meted out by a few, bitter, disgruntled and destructive people.
May Hashem bless us all with the strength and wisdom which we need to continue doing His holy work of making His world a better and brighter place. May we be able to report only greater and mightier accomplishments, on these very pages, on behalf of Yiddishkeit.
The Florida Jewish News - August 23, 2005
Along with Susan Rosenbluth, you have irresponsibly used your position as an editor to write and disseminate an article filled with distortions of facts, misquotes, and lies. Your sources of information which include two disgruntled non-members who regularly attend our synagogue provided you with fodder designed to denigrate our community and to raise questions about our most beloved and respected rabbi, Rabbi Sholom Ciment.
Chabad-Lubavitch shluchim and the communities they build are known throughout the world to be loving, welcoming, caring and non-judgmental. Given this indisputable fact, anyone discovering that a Chabad rabbi has chosen to reach a painful decision to prohibit a family from entering the synagogue premises must realize that it must be based on very compelling facts that the entire community is not privy to. Our most revered rabbi initially did welcome the [NAME REMOVED] family into our community—indeed, not knowing at the time
1) the extent and nature of the heinous allegations against the children and the parents and
2) that there were, indeed, thirteen allegations made by children from seven (not two) families.
As one of the many people present for the entire duration of the synagogue meeting you referenced in your article, I know for a fact that the [NAME REMOVED] family was never referred to by anyone as a family of "sex perverts." You chose to print this expression as a direct quotation, however, these words were never uttered. What was expressed by many community members was great fear and concern upon learning that there were heinous allegations of sexual abuse and sadistic and cruel behavior to animals made against the family
Rabbi Ciment acted in full accordance with Halacha. He exhibited integrity, fairness, and true leadership in carrying out his responsibility to protect the community. We believe that many if not most other rabbis of other synagogues would have been quick to send the family elsewhere. Rabbi Ciment did not do so; he made a very reasonable proposal that should have been accepted willingly. It was the [NAME REMOVED] family that chose to reject his proposal, flee from this option, and, along with their few disgruntled supporters, turn their anger against our Rabbi and our community.
Your articles were not researched properly. Despite what you have done, we are confident and proud that our community continues to grow and to thrive. We are among so many members who stand proudly behind Rabbi Ciment.
Boynton Beach, FL
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