Friday, April 30, 2010

Attorney Jeff Anderson Uncovers Docs Implicating Vatican in Sexual Abuse Coverup

Watch this very important video

Attorney Uncovers Docs Implicating Vatican in Sexual Abuse Coverup


We speak with St. Paul-based attorney, Jeff Anderson, who has filed hundreds of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests and bishops since 1983. He filed a lawsuit last week against the Vatican in a Milwaukee court and wants the Church to release any files it has on sexual abuse cases involving priests. It was his discovery of previously undisclosed documents that fueled the latest wave of accusations leading all the way up to the Vatican. [Includes rush transcript]

Case of Yosef Nunu

Case of Yosef Nunu
(AKA: Yoseph Nino, Joseph Nunu, Joseph Nino)
Matav Charity, Security Guard - Herzliya, Israel
Kfar Saba's Meir Hospital- Herzliya, Israel

Yosef Nunu, a 70-year-old man was convicted and served a lengthy prison term for murdering his former wife and raping minors was arrested at the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba after allegedly molesting a 14-year-old suicidal girl whom he was employed to guard.

Nunu served 24 years of a life sentence for murdering his wife. He was released after receiving a presidential pardon.  

Table of Contents

  1. Convicted murderer-pedophile molests suicidal girl at hospital (04/29/2010)
  2. Pedophile arrested in Israeli hospital (04/29/2010)
  3. Pedophile-killer 'molested suicidal girl' in hospital (04/30/2010) 
  4. Killer, pedophile held for molesting girl he was hired to guard (04/30/2010)
  5. Ex-con hired to watch suicidal teen arrested for her attack (04/30/2010)
  6. Indictment: Watch guard befriended suicidal teen prior to sexual assault (05/05/2010)  
  7. Arrest of hospital guard suspected of indecent acts remanded (06/21/2010)    
  8. Law barring sex offenders from working with kids going unenforced (11/17/2010)   

Convicted murderer-pedophile molests suicidal girl at hospital
By Raanan Ben - Zur
YNET News - April 29, 2010

Man hired by hospital through manpower agency to watch over 14-year-old says he merely kissed her forehead to list her spirits  

Herzliya resident Yoseph Nino, 70, who served jail time for murdering a nurse and raping underage girls, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of molesting a suicidal 14-year-old girl who was under his observation at Kfar Saba's Meir Hospital.

The Kfar Saba Magistrate's Court extended his remand by five days.

The girl was admitted to the hospital last week after trying to commit suicide. The hospital hired Nino through a manpower agency to watch over her for fear she may try to hurt herself again. 

Doctors who walked into the teen's room overnight Friday caught Nino in the act of fondling the girl and called the police. 

The suspect has denied the allegations, saying he merely kissed the girl on the forehead to lift her spirits. 

During his interrogation, Nino admitted to "massaging" the girl, but said he did not molest her. 

Meital Yasur Beit-Or contributed to the report


Pedophile arrested in Israeli hospital
UPI - April 29, 2010

JERUSALEM, April 29 (UPI) -- A convicted pedophile guarding a 14-year-old girl recovering in an Israeli hospital from a suicide attempt was charged Thursday with molesting her.

Yoseph Nunu, 70, of Herzliya was arrested at the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, Ynetnews reported. The hospital had assigned Nunu to watch over the girl to make sure she made no further suicide attempts.

Nunu served time in prison for killing his wife and sexually assaulting young girls, officials said.
Police said a doctor discovered Nunu molesting the girl. Nunu denied any sexual assault, saying he was only kissing her on the forehead.

Investigators were trying to determine if Nunu had been in contact with other children or teenagers since his release from prison, the Jerusalem Post reported.


Pedophile-killer 'molested suicidal girl' in hospital
By Yaakov Lappin
Jerasalem Post - April 30, 2010 

Director of charity that hired man to work as guard questioned on suspicion of employing convicted felon to protect minors.

A 70-year-old man from Herzliya who was convicted and served a lengthy prison term for murdering his former wife and raping minors was arrested at the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba on Thursday after allegedly molesting a 14-year-old suicidal girl whom he was employed to guard.

The suspect, Yosef Nunu, was hired by the Matav charity to work as a security guard. The charity’s director was questioned by police under suspicion of employing a convicted felon to protect minors in violation of the law.

Nunu served 24 years in prison for murder, molesting minors, raping young girls, and molesting family members. He was released after receiving a presidential pardon.

Nunu was tasked with securing a girl who had been hospitalized after attempting to take her own life.

The incident has caused national outrage, and police have stressed that the law calls for any agency which employs people who work around children to ensure that the employee produces a certificate from police stating that he or she has no previous convictions.

According to suspicions, Nunu began molesting and touching the girl while she lay in her hospital bed. He was seen by doctors hovering over the girl. The doctors became alarmed at his actions and immediately called police.

During police questioning, Nunu denied the suspicions, saying he merely “wanted to cheer her up” by giving her “a massage and a kiss to the forehead.”

The Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court extended Nunu’s custody by five days, and described the suspect as a danger to those around him.  


Killer, pedophile held for molesting girl he was hired to guard
By Yaakov Lappin
Jerusalem Post - April 30, 2010

A 70-year-old man from Herzliya who was convicted and served a lengthy prison term for murdering his former wife and raping minors was arrested at the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba on Thursday after allegedly molesting a 14- year-old suicidal girl whom he was employed to guard.

The suspect, Yosef Nunu, was hired by the Matav charity to work as a security guard. The charity's director was questioned by police under suspicion of employing a convicted felon…



Ex-con hired to watch suicidal teen arrested for her attack
By Noah Kosharek and Dan Even  
Haaretz - April 30, 2010 

A 70-year-old man with prior convictions for murder and rape was arrested yesterday for allegedly molesting a suicidal 14-year-old girl at Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava a week ago. Later yesterday, the Kfar Sava Magistrate's Court remanded the suspect, Yosef Nunu of Herzliya, for five days. 

Nunu had been hired by the hospital through the nursing-care agency Matav to supervise the girl overnight to prevent her from harming herself. Police are now investigating why both the hospital and the manpower agency either overlooked or were unaware of Nunu's criminal record. 

Nunu served 24 years of a life sentence for murdering his wife, and was also convicted of various sex offenses against underage girls. He was released after receiving a presidential pardon. 

The suspect was arrested after he was caught fondling the girl in the hospital's children's ward last Friday night. The incident was reported to police the next day, but he was arrested only yesterday. 

In the intervening days, police said, his agency did not give him any further jobs. 

Nunu has denied the allegations, asserting that the acts were not sexual. He claimed he merely kissed the girl on the forehead to lift her spirits. 

The agency that hired Nunu employs 17,000 workers and has been operating for 52 years. Meir Hospital has employed its services for the past 12 years. 

The girl, a resident of an Arab town in central Israel, remains under medical supervision at her family's request. 

A representative of Meir Hospital said the girl was in reasonable physical condition but in poor emotional health. 

"The hospital maintains contact with companies that offer nursing services in unusual circumstances," he said. "In this case, personal supervision was requested from an established nursing agency, one the National Insurance Institute recently ranked first in the nursing field in terms of quality and professionalism, a firm that works with many state bodies. 

"On Friday night, while making the rounds of the children's wing, the ward manager noticed inappropriate activity occurring with one of the patients and acted quickly to alert all the relevant authorities - the police, the welfare authorities and the manpower agency itself. From that moment, the matter was transferred to the police's jurisdiction. 

"The hospital views the incident very gravely, and will hold a refresher course on guidelines to be followed by nursing firms," he concluded. 

The Health Ministry does not mandate supervision for psychiatric patients hospitalized as suicide risks. In recent years, however, hospitals around the country have developed their own guidelines for such cases, after incidents in which parents sued hospitals because their unsupervised children committed suicide there. 

"When a patient has suicidal tendencies and is hospitalized in a place where he cannot be supervised, it is common for supervisory services to be employed to prevent the patient from committing suicide," one psychiatrist noted. 

An official from the agency called the incident "highly regrettable.


Indictment: Watch guard befriended suicidal teen prior to sexual assault 
By Raanan Ben-Zur
YNet - May 5, 2010

Severe indictment filed against elderly man with prior convictions for murder and rape who allegedly sang, gave candy to 14-year-old hospitalized suicidal teen he was tasked with guarding, before molesting her. Suspect says wanted to 'lift the girl's spirits'

An indictment was filed Wednesday against 70-year-old Herzliya resident Yosef Nunu for molesting a 14-year-old suicidal girl he was watching over at Kfar Saba's Meir Hospital.
Nunu, who was hired by the hospital through the nursing-care agency Matav to supervise the teen overnight despite being a convicted murderer and sex offender, is accused of performing an indecent act while exploiting a position of supervision and authority.
The girl was admitted to the hospital last week after attempting suicide. Nunu was hired to watch over her for fear she may harm herself again.   

"He took advantage of the girl's innocence and mental state to satisfy his urges," the indictment read. 

According to the charges, filed with the Kfar Saba Magistrates' Court, last Friday night Nunu carried on a friendly chat with the girl and her 17-year-old sister in the hospital's children's ward. He even sang to the suicidal teen, made her laugh and gave her candy.
He then began stroking the girl's arm and forehead, massaged her hands and feet and kissed her on the check and forehead. The older sister was witness to Nunu's advances, but a curtain separated the girl's bed from the beds of the other patients. 

At some point Nunu accompanied the suicidal girl to the bathroom while hugging her, and on the way stroked her face, neck, back and the area above her sternum. She pushed him away when he tried to touch her breasts, the indictment said. He managed to touch her stomach underneath her shirt, and later kissed her lips and the palm of her hand. 

The teen later complained to the hospital's nurses about Nunu. 

In 1968 Nunu was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a nurse in his cab after she had resisted his advances. He eventually served 13 years for the crime. 

In 1993 he was convicted of assault, and in 1998 he was convicted of sexually assaulting an underage girl, for which he was sentenced to four months community service. 

 In 2000 Nunu was convicted of sexually assaulting an underage boy and performing a lewd act in front of a minor. He was sentenced to six years in prison for these crimes. 

The prosecution asked that Nunu remain in custody until the conclusion of legal proceedings, claiming he poses a danger to the public. The prosecution will present the testimonies of the two sisters and doctors who claim they saw Nunu commit some of the acts he is accused of. 

Nunu has admitted to some of the allegations, but claims his actions were not of a sexual nature and were meant to lift the suicidal girl's spirits.


Arrest of hospital guard suspected of indecent acts remanded
By Raanan Ben-Zur
YNET - June 21, 2010

The Kfar Saba Magistrates' Court has remanded the arrest of Yosef Nunu until the termination of the proceedings against him. Nunu is accused of performing indecent acts on a suicidal 14-year old girl he was hired to guard.

Nunu, a 70-year old resident of Herzliya, has previously served prison sentences for murder and sexual assault. 


Law barring sex offenders from working with kids going unenforced
By Jonathan Lis
Haaretz - November 17, 2010

Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child reveals that from 2001 to 2007, police opened 4 investigations into employment of sex offenders at places that work with children, and none resulted in an indictment.

Police cannot enforce a law barring sex offenders from working with children, Tuesday's meeting of the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child revealed. 

The 2001 law bars the employment of sex offenders at any institution that works with minors or the developmentally impaired. But from 2001 to June 2007, the committee learned, police opened only four investigations into the employment of sex offenders at schools, daycare centers and other places that work with children, and none resulted in an indictment. 

Every year, some 780 Israelis are convicted of sex crimes. About 200 are sentenced to jail and another 200 to community service, the Public Security Ministry said. Ten to 15 percent of these people commit another sexual offense within five years of their conviction. 

Aryeh Mor, who heads the Education Ministry's security department, told the committee a directive was sent to all educational institutes detailing the law's requirements. In particular, he said, they were told that every student teacher must obtain authorization from the police that he is not a sex offender, and schools must check these authorizations. The directive also applied to summer camps, he said, while youth movements and local authorities have issued similar instructions. 

The police set up a computerized system to issue the authorizations. But between 2001 and June 2007, only two of the 67,500 people who sought permits were rejected. 

Superintendent Meir Berkovich told the MKs that police cannot spare time from their many other urgent tasks to actively seek out employers who violate the law, so they investigate only on tips.
Mor said that as far as the ministry knows, not a single institution has thus far failed to demand the requisite authorizations. But committee chairman Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi ) was not reassured. 

"If you haven't found even one case of an institution failing to perform such a check of its employees, that raises questions," he said. "There's no such thing as perfection. So if you haven't found even a single violator, that means your supervision is flawed." 

He also criticized the police, saying, "If only four cases were opened, and not a single indictment filed, during the law's seven and a half years of existence, then something is very wrong with the supervision and enforcement system." 

Attorney Meira Bassok of the Na'amat women's organization cited another problem: Community centers, she said, are not covered by the Education Ministry's directive, and many are not aware that they have to obtain police authorization for their employees. 

Orlev also complained about the lack of a system to warn institutions if an employee commits a sex offense after being hired. He proposed police set up a system to automatically cross-check their database of offenders with their database of people who received permits to work with children. 

One recent high-profile case in which a convicted sex offender was found to be working with minors despite the law occurred in April, when Yosef Nunu - a man convicted of both murder and multiple sex offenses against minors - was arrested for indecent assault against a suicidal 17-year-old he had been hired to care for at Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava. He was hired by Matav, an organization that provides caregivers for patients who need round-the-clock care. The organization subsequently claimed that by law, it is forbidden to ask its employees for a good-conduct certificate from the police, and therefore did not know about Nunu's criminal past. 

Ofra Edelman contributed to this report.




Wednesday, April 28, 2010

RCA Resolution on Child Abuse (Rabbinical Council of America)

Apr 27, 2010 -- Whereas we have become increasingly aware of incidents of the sexual and physical abuse of children in our community; and

Whereas, there have been a number of high profile cases in which Orthodox rabbis have been indicted or convicted for child abuse or child endangerment; and

Whereas the lives and futures of many of these victims and their families are harmed in significant ways: suicide, post traumatic stress syndrome, inability to form healthy relationships, inability to develop healthy intimate relationships, etc.; and

Whereas many victims of abuse in our community still remain silent and do not come forward to accuse perpetrators or seek help for fear of stigma, personal and familial consequences, or perceived halakhic concerns; and

Whereas the Rabbinical Council of America has resolved through past resolutions its condemnation of abuse and its censure of abusers, and has affirmed, under the guidance and direction of its poskim (Rabbinic decisors,) that the prohibitions of mesirah (reporting crimes to the civil authorities) and arka’ot (adjudication in civil courts) do not apply in cases of abuse and in fact, it is halakhically obligatory to make such reports; and

Whereas reiterating this long held position can serve to provide pastoral and halakhic leadership, support, direction and affirmation to abuse survivors and their families and advocates.

Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America resolves that

• It reaffirms its unqualified condemnation of all forms of child abuse.

• It reaffirms its halakhic position that the prohibitions of mesirah and arka’ot do not apply in cases of abuse.

• It will regularly issue on its website and to the media appropriate statements of condemnation when public attention is drawn to a case in which Jews are either victims or perpetrators of abuse.

• It will regularly evaluate the competence of its members in understanding and responding to issues of child abuse and initiate training and continuing educational opportunities for all of its members in this area every year.

• The members of the RCA address the issues of child abuse in their communities in at least one sermon, lecture or article within the next twelve months, and that contact information for local abuse services be displayed in a public place in all synagogues, schools, and Jewish community institutions serviced by its members.

April 27 2010
Dear Rabbi Dratch,
Thank you so much for creating this newest resolution.  It's truly a miracle.
My only hope is that the referrals rabbis give to survivors are to therapists connected to local rape crisis centers (associated with the national coalition against sexual assault).  It's one way to assure that the therapists have the correct training, experience and education.  I also highly suggest that all training's provided are given by those connected to local rape crisis centers. This the only way to ensure accurate information is provided and that our rabbis get connected and learn how to be using appropriate resources that have a proven record.  There's too many people jumping on the bandwagon, that are not licensed professionals, nor have the correct background to be doing the work they are attempting to do.  As Jews, we all must do what ever possible to ensure Jewish survivors not only are treated with dignity and respect, yet also get the best help available out there.
If you go to the right hand side of the following link you will find a link to all the rape crisis centers in the United States:
Just to remind you that In the past I have sent you two different individuals who have a proven record training members of the clergy and other institutions, I personally believe that by our rabbonum being trained by either one of these individuals could only be a huge benefit to the Jewish people.  I'm providing their contact information for you one more time below:

Vicki Polin, MA, NCC, LCPC, ATR-BC
Founder and CEO
The Awareness Center, Inc.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Square appoints Vaad to deal with sexual abuse

This is very bad for the Jewish people of an extremely insular community
The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - April 22, 2010
This is very bad for the Jewish people of an extremely insular community. It endangers children's right to grow up in an abuse free environment and for their civil rights to be protected as American citizens.

The idea of a Vaad (Jewish religious court) to handle cases of sexual abuse is totally inappropriate. To this day I do not know of one rabbi who has undergone forensic training nor the education and or experience to conduct victim sensitive interviews.  Please note that the consultants for this "Vaad" are non other then those connected to Ohel.  A mental health agency known to handle cases of sexual abuse without making hotline reports.  As noted in previous e-mails.  A few years ago David Mandel the CEO of Ohel made it quiet public that he does not advocate for orthodox families to comply with American law and report all suspicions of sexual abuse to child protective services.  The self-proclaimed expert in abuse issues, David Pelcovits said publicly prior to Mandel's speech that he supported Mandel.  See video links below:

New Square is an extremely private community located not far from Monsey, New York in Rockland County.  As you enter the town there's a sign posted about how women are supposed to dress modestly or they will be fined.  I've also been told it's a community in which there are now two sidewalks.  One for women, and the other for men.  Yes, this is in New York.


New Square appoints Vaad to deal with sexual abuse
by Michael Orbach
Issue of April 23, 2010/ 9 Iyar, 5770

At noon on a Sunday afternoon, Isaac Brewer sits at his desk in the back of Fax Unlimited, the electronics store he operates on Route 59 in Spring Valley. The flat-screen monitor on his desk displays several camera views that let him watch the unattended front of the store. Every so often, a customer walks in and Brewer dishes with them over what printer to buy, and every so often, the phone rings and Brewer switches fluently between Yiddish and English, telling one customer that he’ll be happy to drop off a toner at so-and-so’s mother-in-law. And in between conversations, Brewer speaks about sexual abuse.

“The problem has been going on since the world has been created,” explained Brewer, black waistcoat and gray sweater draped over the back of his chair. “But the Rebbe felt a need to get serious about it and to help victims and stop predators… The Rebbe has given us a carte blanche.”

Brewer is part of a six-member committee established 18 months ago by the Skverer Rebbe, Rabbi Dovid Twersky, to combat sexual abuse inside the New Square chasidic community. The committee, known simply as the Vaad, in many ways represents a giant leap forward for the community in dealing with sexual abuse. Advocates for victims of sexual abuse are not as charitable, however, and view the Vaad as a continuation of the legacy of cover-ups that have tainted the larger Orthodox community’s past dealings regarding sexual abuse.

Part of the committee’s strength, Brewer maintains, derives from the insular nature of the community of New Square, which is considered secluded even by chareidi standards.

“We are a closed community,” said Brewer, who speaks eloquently with a slight accent that betrays his upbringing in England. “You can take it in a negative way, but in a positive way a predator cannot slip away to the next synagogue.”
Brewer is refreshingly candid about New Square’s past failures in dealing with sexual abusers inside the community.

“Previously, they were working with professionals, but a lot of education was missing,” Brewer said. “Things slipped away… We never turned a blind eye.”

He likened earlier attempts to deal with abusers to hiring amateur ’sharpshooters.’ “They’ll miss; we missed.”
Since its inception, the Vaad has met with some of the best known psychologists who practice in the Orthodox community, including Dr. David Pelcovitz, Hillel Sternstein, and Barry Horowitz of Ohel. Based on their meetings, the  Vaad developed a a three-pronged approach to the problem of sexual abuse: education, prevention, and taking care of the abusers and their victims.

Brewer says that all educators inside the New Square community have attended sessions about the identifying factors and symptoms of sexual abuse. Trained monitors have been placed inside all schools. It is their responsibility to look for signs of abnormalities in the classroom. Victims of sexual abuse inside the New Square community are sent to treatment, an almost unheard of occurrence in a chassidic community.

“Three years ago I would never understand the trauma he [the sexual abuse victim] goes through,” explained Brewer. “These people are going through an enormous amount of pain.”

More controversially however, the Vaad, under the direction of the psychologists, sends sexual abusers to treatment.

“There is no forgiveness,” Brewer explained “They pay for victim’s treatment, they go through their own treatment and there are measures of protection.”

Those measures include prohibitions against known abusers going to the mikvah, and cameras placed in populated areas.

Brewer declined to discuss whether the Vaad would be willing to work with secular authorities; it would be very hard to answer with yes or no across the board, he said. But he repeated a quote he attributed to a rabbi in the wake of the sentencing of Baruch Mordechai Lebovits, the convicted molester who received a maximum sentence last week.

“It’s a very sad day, but something had to happen,” Brewer quoted the unidentified rabbi as saying.

In certain cases, Brewer clarified, where there was “no way of being taken off the streets, [seeking help from authorities is] definitely an avenue, but I’m not sure this is the most effective [way]… They are not our enemies.”

So far, he explained, no predator, or mazzik, in his words, (literally: damager), that the Vaad has dealt with, has left New Square. But if one were to leave, Brewer said, there would be consequences.

“One of the leading gedolai HaTorah instructed that it was not right to find a mazzik and let him go. It is our job to put the hammer on him,” Brewer explained.

Brewer says the response inside the community has been overwhelmingly positive. The next obstacles the group faces are securing a permanent stream of funding and finding more psychologists who are fluent in Yiddish. He says the program would be expanded as needed.

“We are following instructions from the professionals to the letter,” stressed Brewer.

Ben Hirsch, president of Survivors for Justice, an organization that works with survivors of sexual abuse, was not impressed

“Dealing with reports of sexual abuse through even a well intentioned communal “Vaad,” serves one purpose, the cover-up of the crime,” said Hirsch. “Usually with catastrophic results, when the pedophile strikes again. Only when the residents of New Square realize that the only way to deal with the crime of sexual abuse is to report it directly to the sex crimes division of the police department, who are trained and equipped to investigate these crimes, will their community will be safe for their children.”

Marci Hamilton, the author of “Justice Denied: What America must to to Protect its Children,” compared the Vaad’s action to the Catholic Church.

“That’s just a conscious choice not to learn from the Catholic Church’s problem,” explained Hamilton. “What we know now is that in the Catholic Church and other religous organizations, when they choose to handle these issues internally and do not bring in prosecutors and the state agencies that are trained to deal with these issues, these predators get the better of them. No one should think they can handle this on their own. It’s both hubris and dangerous.”

The Vaad has already dealt with one high-profile case that reached the upper echelons of New Square society: Heshy Brier. Brier, in his 50’s, served in an unofficial capacity directly under the Skverer Rebbe. He is widely believed to have sexually abused hundreds of children over the years. Isaac Brewer of the Vaad would not comment on any specific cases for fear of undermining the Vaad, but reportedly Brier has been stripped of his power and is in treatment.

Kal Holczler, the founder of Voices of Dignity, a sexual abuse survivors organization, claims that he was sexually abused several times by Brier, even at times in the home of the Skverer Rebbe. Holczler’s entanglement with Brier is even more complicated given that, late last year, his sister married Brier’s son. At the time, Holczler sat down with his abuser.

“He didn’t want to go anywhere in public,” Holczler related. “We went to the Skverer Rebbe’s house in Nyack. We went next to the water and I told him how he had affected me and how there are other kids and I wanted to hear what that was like for him.”

Brier declined to speak about the allegations.

“I’m not going to comment on this,” he told The Jewish Star on Wednesday afternoon. “If you want to, go talk to the Vaad.”

Holczler also contends that sexual abuse is far more widespread in New Square than the Vaad maintains.

“I’ve sat with kids who are now in their 30’s. When they were 13, they told the Rebbe about sexual abuse and the family got kicked out of Skver,” Holczler said.

He said there are questions.  ”They are behind helping people to report, but what’s going on with the cases they know with offenders walking free?” asked Holczler. “There are people who are walking free that have offended and abused both sexes and they’re still free.

Holczler said that at a meeting he had with the Vaad last week, its members were receptive to the idea of working with the authorities.

“I would like them to assist me and any victims from Skver prosecute their offenders. For them to know that sexual abuse is not only a sickness but a crime. A crime that has affected hundreds of kids. For them to remove someone from office, for them to fire a melamed (a teacher), is not sufficient.”

Another abuse victim of sexual abuse from New Square spoke to The Jewish Star but asked that he not be identified in the newspaper.

“There’s a joke and it’s a very sad joke,” said the victim. “There was a guy trying to get a hitch on 45 going into Williamsburg [from New Square] and he stood there with his hand out. When someone drove by, he said ‘I want to go to America.’”

The therapist who treated Brier praised the Vaad’s action. He also asked to not be named in print.

“It’s a great example of the community in New Square shifting in a very positive direction,” the therapist said, “This guy was very very connected from all facets of the community. He helped build the medical center; he was involved in getting government benefits. This guy was very connected politically. Unfortunately, he used his power and position to harm kids, which is the most devastating part. To me, the community responded to the allegations by not saying ‘How are we ever going to bring this guy down’ — but, ‘How can we protect the community in a way, and get the victims help, and how can we get this man help?’”

“It’s an extraordinarily painful case, but at the end it has gone well,” the therapist continued. “Not in terms of the pain, it doesn’t keep it away, but it shifted the dynamics from denial and blaming victims to getting everybody help.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Case of Kal Holczer

Case of Kal Holczer
Voices of Dignity 

Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs.

Table of Contents:

  1. Regarding "Voices of Dignity", SOVRI Helpline and Kal Holczler (04/21/2010)
  2. Declaration of the Rights of the Child 
  3. WARNING:  VIDEO - This is an organization that has leaders who may be dangerous to women  (04/21/2010)
  4. Victims’ advocate accused of misconduct
Several groups severs ties with colleague over allegations
  5. The Story of A (Sexual Violence) Victim's Advocate


Regarding "Voices of Dignity", SOVRI Helpline and Kal Holczler
The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - April 21, 2010
Dear Friends,
It saddens The Awareness Center to make the following public announcement, but we feel we have no other option.

Over the last month The Awareness Center has done its best to work with Kal Holczler’s new organization, Voices of Dignity.  Due to concerns about both the safety of adult and child survivors of sexual abuse/assault we have no option but to sever our ties.

One of the many issues we have with this new group includes the fact that Voices of Dignity has strong ties to the SOVRI Helpline/hotline (Support Orthodox Victims of Rape and Incest).  

The SOVRI Helpline is an organization whose policy is not to make hotline reports in cases where they suspect a child is at risk of harm.  They have been justifying this by saying that since they are a volunteer based organization, they are not mandated to report.  They fear that no one will utilize their services if they do the right thing, and protect children when they suspect they are at risk of harm and or neglect.  The Awareness Center is also an all volunteer based organization, and our policy is to always make reports and let law enforcement and or child protective services make the determination if something is wrong. Throughout the history of our organization we have found that those who call us find it comforting to know that we do everything in our power to ensure children have the opportunity to grow up in abuse free environments.

It is also important to note that according to several halachic authorities  all Jews, regardless if stipulated by American law, are considered mandated reporters.  

One would think that organizations like Voices for Dignity and the SOVRI Helpline, who say they care about ending sexual abuse/assault in the orthodox world, would take the high road and do everything in their power to ensure orthodox Jewish children’s civil rights are protected and report all suspicions that a child is at risk of harm would be reported.

SOVRI was originally created many years ago and then folded.  It was revived again back in 2008 as a reaction to the hotline/recorded message put out weekly by Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, who was encouraging members of the ultra orthodox community to make hotline reports and work with law enforcement officials.

Unfortunately, SOVRI has many ties to Ohel, which is a mental health agency based in Brooklyn, NY.  This is an organization that receives federal funding, yet their policy is to discourage individuals from making hotline reports when they suspect a child is at risk of harm.  The four key players in this “helpline" include:  Chaya Mermerstein, LCSW and Cheryl Friedman, LCSW, both of Beth Israel's staff and psychotherapist Yoni Hikind, LMSW.  The original founder of the organization is Bassya Littman.

SOVRI’s halachic advisor is rabbi Dovid Cohen.  For those of you who are unaware, rabbi Cohen is also the halachic advisor for Ohel. Please watch the youtube video of David Mandel, who is the CEO of Ohel providing an educational seminar in Baltimore, in which he gives false information relating to sexual abuse survivors and discourages the audience from protecting children: "Is David Mandel A Mandated Reporter

Another issue The Awareness Center has with Voices of Dignity is the fact that its founder Kal Holczler and his partner Melanie Curtin have both current and past connections with a movement called “One Taste”, which created “the slow-sex movement,”.  According to a New York Times article "the movement". 
“Places a near-exclusive emphasis on women’s pleasure — in which love, romance and even flirtation are not required.  The group has retreats in which about a dozen women, naked from the waist down, lie with eyes closed in a velvet-curtained room, while clothed men huddle over them, stroking them in a ritual known as orgasmic meditation — “OMing,” for short. The couples, who may or may not be romantically involved, call one another “research partners.”

A commune dedicated to men and women publicly creating “the orgasm that exists between them,” in the words of one resident, may sound like the ultimate California satir.”

The Awareness Center believes consenting adults have a right to privacy and that what one finds as healing in one’s private life should remain private. The issue The Awareness Center has is that Kal Holczler has been allegedly coaching unsuspecting female survivors with his techniques in the guise of healing them from sexual trauma.  Holczler is not a licensed mental health professional nor does he have any degrees in the field or certifications as a rape crisis counselor.  He is not being provided clinical supervision by any qualified individual.

Any organizations that are affiliated with Ohel or “One Taste”, including Holczler’s new organization, Voices of Dignity, should be seen as a danger both to orthodox Jewish children’s safety and civil rights as outlined by the United Nations in 1959 (see below), and to unsuspecting women as well.

Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC
Founder/Director - The Awareness Center, Inc.


Declaration of the Rights of the Child
(Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1959)
Proclaims this Declaration of the Rights of the Child to the end that he may have a happy childhood and enjoy for his own good and for the good of society the rights and freedoms herein set forth, and calls upon parents, upon men and women as individuals, and upon voluntary organizations, local authorities and national Governments to recognize these rights and strive for their observance by legislative and other measures progressively taken in accordance with the following principles:
Principle 1  The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.
Principle 2  The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.
Principle 3  The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a nationality.
Principle 4  The child shall enjoy the benefits of social security. He shall be entitled to grow and develop in health; to this end, special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate prenatal and postnatal care. The child shall have the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services.
Principle 5  The child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given the special treatment, education and care required by his particular condition.
Principle 6  The child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security; a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother. Society and the public authorities shall have the duty to extend particular care to children without a family and to those without adequate means of support. Payment of State and other assistance towards the maintenance of children of large families is desirable.
Principle 7  The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society.
The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the first place with his parents.
The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavour to promote the enjoyment of this right.
Principle 8  The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief.
Principle 9  The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. He shall not be the subject of traffic, in any form.
The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case because or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education, or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development.
Principle 10  The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men.


WARNING:  This is an organization that has leaders who may be dangerous to women
The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - April 21, 2010


Victims’ advocate accused of misconduct

Several groups severs ties with colleague over allegations

by Michael Orbach 
The Jewish Star - April 23, 2010/ 9 Iyar, 5770

Michael Orbach
In the world of Jewish advocacy against sexual abuse, a sense of solidarity exists among activists who see themselves as waging an uphill battle against communal leaders who have failed in their responsibilities. But in a rare moment on Wednesday, April 21, one activist called out another.

Vicki Polin, CEO of the Awareness Center, an organization devoted to combating sexual abuse in the Jewish community, sent an email blast to her supporters in which she warned about a charismatic new activist, Kal Holczler.

Holczler founded Voices of Dignity, an organization with goals similar to her own, but the Awareness Center, Polin wrote, would be severing all ties with Voices of Dignity. (Holczler was profiled in The Jewish Star on March 12.) She cited a number of reasons.

The first, Polin said, is Voices of Dignity’s association with SOVRI, the Support Orthodox Victims of Rape and Incest Helpline, based out of Beth Israel Medical Center.

“The SOVRI Helpline is an organization whose policy is not to make hotline reports in cases where they suspect a child is at risk of harm,” she wrote. “They have been justifying this by saying that since they are a volunteer based organization, they are not mandated to report.”

Given the extensive cover-ups of sexual abuse that have occurred in the Jewish community, activists consider failing to report to be a grievous offense.

“They fear that no one will utilize their services if they do the right thing, and protect children when they suspect they are at risk of harm and or neglect,” Polin wrote.

Polin saved her most serious allegations for last. Holczler and Voices of Dignity’s managing director, Melanie Curtin, have “current and past connection” with a San Francisco-based movement called One Taste, which promotes a form of deviant sexual behavior. More importantly and more dangerously, Polin concluded, “Holczler has been allegedly coaching unsuspecting female survivors with his techniques in the guise of healing them from sexual trauma. Holczler is not a licensed mental health professional nor does he have any degrees in the field or certifications as a rape crisis counselor.”

Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani of Yeshiva University, and one of the leading rabbinical figures in raising sexual abuse awareness, also weighed in.

“I have been told by reliable sources,” he wrote on the Frumfollies blog, “that Kal Holczler has behaved improperly with survivors of abuse whom he was ‘helping.’”

Ben Hirsch, president of Survivors for Justice, another advocacy organization, told The Jewish Star that “while we have no direct knowledge of the facts here, any allegations of improper boundary crossing must be taken seriously.”

“Clearly such behavior can never be tolerated,” he continued. “It is incumbent upon those of us who have spent years painstakingly working on this issue to be vigilant in protecting the integrity of this effort.”

Polin met Holczler at an advocacy event called Male Survivor’s Conference; Polin had invited him to speak on their panel. She was taken by his charisma, she said, although she was also alarmed by Holczler’s willingness to work with SOVRI. She asked Holczler to respond to her concerns but said that he never did.

Polin was not at liberty to discuss the allegations of sexual misconduct against Holczler, she said.

“There’s allegations of him being inappropriate with people whom he has been counseling,” she explained. “I could not write or send something out unless I had enough information.”

She struck a note of compassion for Holczler’s situation: “I mean, he’s a survivor [of sexual abuse] and like any other survivors we have our struggles and issues. It’s obvious that Kal has issues that haven’t been resolved and worked through. Is his behavior criminal? That would be up to a court. Was he being sexually reactive? I don’t know. He obviously needs help… My hope is he’ll get help and everything will be okay. I’m scared. I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Polin said.

In her letter Polin stated that Holczler and Curtin are entitled to do whatever they want, but the allegations are no less strange given Polin’s own history. On May 1, 1989, Polin appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show claiming that she was a survivor of a Jewish ritual satanic cult (the clip is available on YouTube). Polin, who went by the name Rachel, spoke about how she and her family sacrificed babies to the devil.

“Does everyone else think it’s a nice Jewish family?” Oprah asked? “From the outside, you appear to be a nice Jewish girl?” Polin responded that there were several other Jewish families like hers, though she added, “Not all Jewish people sacrifice babies. I mean, it’s not a very typical thing.”

The Anti-Defamation League criticized Oprah over the program. Since then, the video has been linked to a variety of anti-Semitic websites as ‘proof’ about Jewish Satanic cults.

Polin won’t discuss her appearance on the Oprah show, except “with law enforcement who are investigating the case.” However, she forwarded The Jewish Star information about her appearance gathered by Luke Ford, a blogger in Los Angeles.  Everyone involved in The Awareness Center is aware of her appearance, she says, which took place some 20 years ago.  Several volunteers run the organization out of Polin’s home in Baltimore.

“The majority of people who go into the mental health field go into it for different things that happened in their life, not necessarily sexual abuse,” Polin asserted. “The same thing with people who go into law enforcement – someone touched by some kind of crime.”

The Awareness Center’s website functions as a morbid Who’s-Who of Jewish sexual abuse offenders. Most activists regard Polin as a key player in raising awareness of sexual abuse.

“On some levels I think if it wasn’t for Vicki there wouldn’t be much of an advocacy program in the Jewish community,” said Dr. Michael Salamon, a Hewlett-based psychologist who serves on the board of The Awareness Center and is also an occasional contributor to The Jewish Star.

“There is no doubt that Vicki has put in many years under very difficult circumstances working for people who were abused in the community and has contributed a great deal helping individuals and creating the growing awareness of the seriousness of the problem and the need for communal change,” said Rabbi Blau.

Holczler said he was “shocked” by Polin’s email and flatly denied having any improper relationships with other survivors.

“I’m not claiming to treat anyone, I’m not even giving an endorsement. I showed up in New York and I started listening,” Holczler told The Jewish Star on Thursday.

He defended his relationship with SOVRI. ” They’re a professional organization. It’s legitimate; it’s run by certified mental health professionals,” Holczler said.

Cheryl Friedman, co-coordinator of the SOVRI Helpline and a clinical social worker at the Beth Israel Medical Center in Brooklyn, where SOVRI is based, called Polin’s complaints, “unfounded.”
“Her bone of contention is that if there was a child abuse case we would not report it,” said Friedman, said. “At our helpline, we don’t have enough information. For example, we do not know how old our callers are, or where they live; we don’t have Caller ID. There is no mechanism for us to have the information [that] she’s referring to.”

Friedman said she would have been happy to speak with Polin about the issue, “but we were not given the opportunity.” She said that she believed the letter was sent out because Holczler was asked to denounce the SOVRI Hotline and declined to do so.

Friedman has been in touch with Holczler about getting grants to form a coalition of organizations in the Jewish community, she said.

Holczler said that he believes Polin’s letter is a result of a difference of opinion about how to interact with the Orthodox “establishment” of institutions and organizations.

“I cannot avoid or reject the establishment where I want to see the change happen,” Holczler explained. “There are people in the establishment that really want change but need to be educated and need to be held responsible. Today, it’s almost common knowledge someone speaking about sexual abuse has rabbinical support.”

Holczler does not deny his and Curtin’s involvement in One Taste, but said that he has not been a part of the movement in a year and a half.

“I’m aware of the statistics that people who have gone through sexual abuse will have promiscuity in their history and I fall in the same category,” he said. “I’ve made decisions to deal and heal from the abuse [I experienced] growing up in New Square.”

The allegations have spooked at least one of Holczler’s earlier supporters.

“Kal has the potential to play a vital role in the struggle against
complacency and cover up in  Charedi communities,” said Isaac Schonfeld, a community activist. “Being from a Charedi community gives him the credibility, within those communities, that others don’t have. Being himself a victim of abuse gives him an empathy and understanding that others may lack, but it also too easily leads to dangerous crossings of lines when dealing with other victims of abuse. He correctly notes that he is not a counselor or therapist and therefore most definitely should not be advising victims themselves. Kal has a ‘conquer the world’ youthful dynamism [that is] so important, yet in need of sober direction.”

Holczler said he plans to continue his work in the abuse field.

“My claim was not that I have recovered; I have survived; I am healthy and wealthy,” Holczler said. “That’s not my claim. My claim is I’m still dealing with it.”

(NOTE: Vicki Polin has spoken about being on Oprah for years.  Orbach's information is incorrect. For more information click here)


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