Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bill Surkis, the former Quebec regional director for B'nai Brith, has pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.

B'nai Brith leader pleads guilty to child porn charges

Bill Surkis, the former Quebec regional director for B'nai Brith, has pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.

It's a stunning reversal for the well-respected member of Montreal's Jewish community.

Surkis, 70, was Academic Dean of John Abbott College for 22 years, in addition to being the regional director for the Jewish-rights group B'nai Brith.

In court on Wednesday morning, Surkis pleaded guilty to one count of accessing child pornography, and another count of possession of child pornography.

A charge of distributing child pornography was dropped.

Surkis was arrested in May 2009 and charged with counts of accessing and possessing child pornography.

The material was discovered in 2008, when Surkis brought his malfunctioning computer in for repair, and a virus check turned up numerous video and photos of child porn.

In all more Surkis's computer contained 86 videos totalling more than eight hours of video files, and 153 photos of children between the ages of six and 14 being sexually abused.

Surkis had originally planned to plead not guilty, saying he had downloaded the illicit material for a presentation on child abuse.

However prosecutor Cynthia Gyenizse never bought that argument.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Case of Rabbi Shimshon Walzer

Case of Rabbi Shimshon Walzer

 Komemiyut (located near Kiryat Gat), Israel
Monsey, NY

According to reports, alleged sex offender Shimshon Walzer escaped prosecution in Israel and may currently residing in Monsey, NY.  "Rabbi" Shimshon Walzer is suspected of sexually abusing dozens of children in Israel.

Walzer's alleged sexual abuse began 19 years ago, when he was rabbi of the Talmud Torah. From the investigative material it appears that a kind of deviant sexual culture arose among some of the boys on the moshav, which included sexual activity, sometimes consensual and sometimes forced, and also that a special language developed around this activity. The expression "to beat up," for example, was used as code for groping and touching of a sexual nature, which often led to forced acts. One resident in his 20s related that instead of playing cops and robbers, the moshav's children invented a game of tag called "Shimshon Walzer."

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Table of Contents:  

  1. After Maariv revealed yesterday that the long seat Komemiyut long suspected child abuse, was also arrested his son. Evaluation: The suspect's neighbor complained against (05/26/2010)
  2. Teacher molested kids for 20 years, while community turned blind eye  (07/29/2010)
  3. Child Abuse: Rav Motti Elon and Komemiyut (08/09/2010)
  4. A victim in every home (08/10/2010)
  5. Forgets not that heroic waltz is in fashion - speaking care on your children  (08/10/2010)

After Maariv revealed yesterday that the long seat Komemiyut long suspected child abuse, was also arrested his son. Evaluation: The suspect's neighbor complained against
By Ronen Damari
NRG - May 26, 2010
Article translated using Google.  Original article below

After the last publication in Maariv, revealed that "Rabbi" Shimshon Walzer suspected of sexually abusing dozens of children over the years who taught the seat of sovereignty, was arrested last night one of his sons - Solomon, on suspicion that he committed child abuse in the community. Police hoped that the father, who is currently in the U.S., decided to return to Israel for the wedding of one of his sons held today. In which case he would be arrested and interrogated.

Bar Yehuda Fried and Tal Gabay Photo: Chen rolls
Bar Yehuda Fried and Tal Gabay, representing the family and purposes, were angered by the timing of the arrest carried out by the central unit in the Lachish: just one day before the anticipated wedding of Gedaliah David, another son of Walzer.

Walzer took off more than a month to the U.S. to raise funds, just hours before the Central Unit investigators knocked on his door and asked him for questioning. When his family told him that he decided to change his plans and return to Israel for fear of being arrested.

In recent weeks, police came many times the seat, but found it difficult to collect evidence, since most residents refused to cooperate. Walzer associates wondered last night: "This is old suspicions as to why they remembered them after so many years?". Wife and purposes, Riesel, said: "I'm shocked. My children are shocked. Asked me about the allegations, and said to them, 'How dare you speak of my father, he's an honest man."

Officials said that provision seat saved in private for many years finally exploded following an internal dispute between the residents of the small community. They said Walzer said one of the residents that he should not raise goats for religious prohibition to raise small cattle. Resident's response was: 'If this is so, the rough beast now picking. According to the sources then he passed the information on sexual abuse to the police.
"Convinced that justice will be published"
Mr. Fried said in response: "My clients are confident innocence and confident that justice will be published in court." Spokeswoman space Lachish, Meital control graph, said in response: "Solomon and purposes attributed to serious offenses, and the investigation has reached a stage visible."

Yesterday was cleared for publication that for decades sexually abused splendidly "Samson and Walzer dozens of children taught. Allegedly Walzer, a teacher from the seat
Orthodox Komemiyut near Kiryat Gat, carried out the worst deeds when he was alone with the children utilizing the authority Cmhncm. He would warn them not to tell anyone about his actions.

Orthodox community factors involved in the proceedings seat argue that the teacher's actions were discovered a long time ago, but no complaint was filed against him by order of the multi-seat Menachem Mendelson.


אחרי שאתמול נחשף במעריב כי רב ממושב קוממיות חשוד בהתעללות ארוכת שנים בילדים, נעצר גם בנו. הערכה: שכנו של החשוד התלונן נגדו

רונן דמארי | 26/5/2010 8:11

לאחר הפרסום אתמול במעריב, שחשף כי "הרב" שמשון ולצר חשוד כי התעלל מינית במשך שנים בעשרות ילדים שלימד במושב קוממיות, נעצר אמש אחד מבניו - שלמה, בחשד שאף הוא ביצע מעשים מגונים בילדים ביישוב. במשטרה קיוו כי האב, ששוהה כעת בארה"ב, יחליט לחזור לישראל לרגל חתונת אחד מבניו המתקיימת היום. במקרה שכזה הוא ייעצר וייחקר. 

עורכי הדין יהודה פריד וטל גבאי צילום ארכיון: חן גלילי
עורכי הדין יהודה פריד וטל גבאי, המייצגים את משפחת ולצר, זעמו על תזמון המעצר שביצעו אנשי היחידה המרכזית במרחב לכיש: יממה בלבד לפני חתונתו הצפויה של גדליה דוד, בן אחר של ולצר. 

ולצר המריא לפני למעלה מחודש לארה"ב לגיוס תרומות, שעות ספורות לפני שחוקרי הימ"ר התדפקו על דלתו ודרשו אותו לחקירה. כאשר משפחתו סיפרה לו על כך הוא החליט לשנות את תוכניתו ולא לשוב לארץ, מחשש שייעצר. 

בשבועות האחרונים הגיעו חוקרי המשטרה פעמים רבות למושב, אך התקשו לאסוף ראיות, שכן מרבית התושבים סירבו לשתף פעולה. מקורבי ולצר תהו אמש: "מדובר בחשדות ישנים, מדוע נזכרו בהם לאחר כל כך הרבה שנים?". גם אשתו של ולצר, רייזל, אמרה: "אני מזועזעת. הילדים שלי המומים. שאלו אותי על החשדות, ואמרתי להם 'איך אתם מעזים לדבר כך על אבא? הוא אדם ישר'". 

גורמים במושב סיפרו כי הפרשה שנשמרה בחדרי חדרים במשך שנים רבות התפוצצה בסופו של דבר בעקבות סכסוך פנימי בין תושבי היישוב הקטן. לדבריהם, ולצר הודיע לאחד התושבים כי אסור לו לגדל עזים בשל איסור הלכתי לגדל בהמה דקה. תגובתו של התושב הייתה: 'אם זה כך, עכשיו נטפל בבהמה הגסה'. לטענת אותם גורמים לאחר מכן הוא העביר את המידע על ההתעללות המינית למשטרה.  
"משוכנעים שהצדק ייצא לאור"
עו"ד פריד מסר בתגובה: "מרשיי בטוחים בחפותם ומשוכנעים שהצדק ייצא לאור בבית המשפט". דוברת מרחב לכיש, פקד מיטל גרף, מסרה בתגובה: "לשלמה ולצר מיוחסות עבירות חמורות, והחקירה הגיעה לשלב הגלוי". 

אתמול הותר לפרסום כי במשך עשרות שנים התעלל מינית ה"רב" שמשון וולצר בעשרות ילדים שלימד. על פי החשד וולצר, מורה מהמושב
החרדי קוממיות, הסמוך לקריית גת, ביצע את המעשים החמורים כאשר שהה עם הילדים ביחידות תוך ניצול סמכותו כמחנכם. הוא נהג להזהיר אותם לא לספר לאיש על מעשיו. 

גורמים בעדה החרדית המעורים בנעשה במושב טוענים כי מעשיו של המורה התגלו לפני זמן רב, אך לא הוגשה נגדו תלונה בגלל הוראתו של רב המושב מנחם מנדלסון.


Teacher molested kids for 20 years, while community turned blind eye
By Tamar Rotem
Haaretz - July 29, 2010

Police are investigating a man who allegedly sexual abused dozens of children on Moshav Kommemiyut over two decades.

For almost 20 years, one man allegedly sexually abused dozens of children on Moshav Kommemiyut, an ultra-Orthodox community in the northern Negev. Yet no one ever complained - either to the police or to the welfare authorities.

The police have since opened an investigation into the abuses, but the suspect is in the U.S. and refuses to return. Meanwhile, some say community leaders knew of the crimes but did nothing to stop them.

At least one of the victims is suspected of having sexually abused younger children in turn.
The main suspect, Shimshon Walzer, began his alleged career as an abuser 19 years ago, while serving as a teacher at a religious elementary school. Two years later, rumors of his abusive conduct led to him being fired as a teacher. Yet for some reason, he was allowed to retain an office at the school.

Over the ensuing years, his conduct became ever more abusive, police say, and an entire generation of children became his sex slaves. According to the testimony they have collected, he abused his victims frequently and in broad daylight, in barns and chicken coops, in fields and even at the mikveh (ritual bath ).

The testimony reveals that the victims were usually young - aged 9 or 10, or sometimes a bit older - and generally came from families whose from lower social status. Walzer would allegedly pick them up from school or synagogue in his car.

Police have been conducting an undercover investigation of Walzer for the last few months. Over the course of the probe, they began to suspect that some of the victims had also been sexually abused by a second person.

Suspect indicted
That person, who was a minor at the time most of his alleged crimes were committed, was indicted two weeks ago on charges of sodomy and indecent assault, then released to house arrest. But Walzer was not indicted at the same time, because he was out of the country.

In April, Walzer had gone to the United States to raise funds for the elementary school and the moshav's synagogue. While there, he realized that the noose was tightening about his neck and decided not to return to Israel.

The prosecution recently decided not to seek his extradition, fearing the process was likely to prove complicated, due in part to the fact that the statute of limitations has already expired on some of his alleged crimes.

Some Kommemiyut residents, as well as some of the victims, told police the rabbi of the moshav, the principal of the school and members of the moshav's governing body all knew about the alleged abuse committed by the two suspects. But most residents denied that any abuse had occurred.

Walzer's attorney insisted that he had not returned because he was still fund-raising, and would "fight for the truth when he decides to return."

An attorney for the other suspect said his alleged victim "suffers from credibility problems, to say the least, and his desire to harm Haredi society in general, and the Walzer family in particular, is clear. We believe his testimony will not hold up."

Kommemiyut's rabbi, Mendel Mendelson, declined to respond to Haaretz's questions.


Child Abuse: Rav Motti Elon and Komemiyut
By David Morris
Tzedek - Tzedek  - August 9, 2010

The case of Rabbi Motti Elon, the charismatic National Religious rabbi, has now been investigated by the police in Israel, who are apparently recommending prosecuting Rabbi Elon for child abuse and other sex crimes.

Meantime, shocking details are emerging from the ultra-orthodox community of Komemiyut , located near Kiryat Gat, regarding a decades long cover-up of a child molester in the community, Shimshon Walzer  – who is reported to have attacked dozens of children. The alleged perpetrator is now in the USA, and is unlikely to return to face his investigators.    

Of the 40 cases in which there is suspicion of abuse by Walzer, the police have reportedly collected complaints and testimony from 16 purported victims, who were aged between 7 and 16 when the acts were committed. Two complained against an additional suspect (who was a minor during the time of most of the alleged offenses). Many of the witnesses, now married and living outside the moshav, were not willing to make official complaints, for fear they would be exposed. The acts were apparently frequent, and committed in abandoned barns and chicken coops, or surrounding fields.

It is interesting to compare these two cases – Rav Motti Elon, and Shimshon Walzer.

In both instances, their communities endeavored to handle the problem internally.

With Rav Motti Elon, Takana, a forum of leading National Religious rabbis, tried to control Rav Elon’s access to victims, for a period of four years between discovery until they finally threw their hands up in despair at Rav Elon’s non-compliance, and broke the news in February this year about Rav Elon’s alleged affairs with his male (over 18 yo) students.

It now seems that there were other victims which Takana was unaware of, which the police have  investigated, including minors.

In Komemiyut, Shimon Walzer was apparently dismissed from his teaching job 18 years ago, as a measure taken by the community to address his alleged pedophilic behaviour. He was subsequently employed as a fundraiser by the community - a profession which, compared with teaching, inevitably resulted in Walzer having less day-to-day access to children.
However, with victims reportedly “in every family in Komemiyut” – the community’s efforts to handle the problem internally, appears to have been disastrously unsuccessful.

The incentive for close communities, whether National Religious or Ultra-Orthodox, to contain scandal by trying to control the behaviour of alleged pedophiles, without recourse to the police, social services and mental health professionals, is a hazardous policy – which indeed, in both cases, seems to have back-fired with terrible costs to the safety of children (and, in Elon’s case, over 18 year old youths).

This comparison would not be complete without noting that Takana worked within the legal framework of the Mandatory Reporting Laws (under which Takana were apparently not required to report Rav Elon's misdemeanours to the police - as the cases Takana were aware of solely involved 'consenting' over-18's) - whereas the community of Komemiyut seems to have broken the Mandatory Reporting Laws, over a period of decades.

Dealing with alleged sex criminals in our communities is not a problem for which there is a Holy Grail solution.

Even the police, prison services, psychiatric and psychological professionals, the works…regularly fail to curb pedophilic behaviour.  

[Incidentally, these resources are not much more successful with (non-sexual) violent criminals and thieves, drug dealers or fraudsters. Repeat offenders (recidivism) is not solely a problem of dealing with pedophiles. People don't get better in prison.]

What is clear, is that communities do have resources which the authorities (police, social services, etc) lack; and it is surely obvious that communities working in isolation from the big-guns provided by the State, are hopelessly lacking in ability to “deal with” such major crimes internally.

An improvement upon both approaches would be a community based organization, such as the recently established organization “Magen” in Bet Shemesh, working in full cooperation with the State authorities, in compliance with the Law, and solely focused on strengthening the safety of the community’s children.  


A victim in every home


By Tamar RotemHaaretz - August 8, 2010
Insofar as is known, up until the police stepped in, no complaints about the alleged acts had been filed with the welfare authorities. MK Danny Danon (Likud ), chairman of the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child, wrote a letter in June to Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, asking him to examine "how it is that welfare personnel were not involved, and why the many victims were not and are not being afforded treatment by the welfare authorities." Danon believes that the affair is "a matter of criminal negligence and neglect on the part of the authorities that have failed to treat those involved, both the welfare authorities and the enforcement authorities." His letter has not yet received an answer.
'Defilement that prevails'
Moshav rabbi Mendel Mendelson declined to answer questions from Haaretz. The wife of the Talmud Torah principal, Rabbi Haim Knopfelmacher, said on his behalf that he submitted to police questioning "because there's no choice, but we will not cooperate with the press." Members of the community council whom we contacted also refused to respond.
Komemiyut was established as a cooperative farming village in 1950, but today only a small number of its members raise crops or livestock. Neglect is everywhere; small, ugly houses are surrounded by weed-choked yards. The moshav's only playground has a sign indicating separate hours for boys and for girls.
This is not the first time this moshav has concealed a dark secret. The abducted 6-year-old boy Yossele Schumacher was hidden here for a while in the 1960s; today, Ben-Zion Miller, suspected of having given three narcotics-filled suitcases to ultra-Orthodox drug-runners in 2008, is under house arrest there.
One resident, who like all those interviewed here asked that his name not be published for fear he would be ostracized, said the place never developed because of the "defilement that prevails in it."
Meanwhile, it is hard to explain how, in a community with just 340 inhabitants - fewer than 40 families, who belong to the large Gur, Belz and Vishnitz Hasidic sects - no one knew about the suspected abuse. Especially because, according to one resident, and confirmed by the police, there is hardly a home in which there isn't a victim.
Walzer's alleged sexual abuse began 19 years ago, when he was rabbi of the Talmud Torah. From the investigative material it appears that a kind of deviant sexual culture arose among some of the boys on the moshav, which included sexual activity, sometimes consensual and sometimes forced, and also that a special language developed around this activity. The expression "to beat up," for example, was used as code for groping and touching of a sexual nature, which often led to forced acts. One resident in his 20s related that instead of playing cops and robbers, the moshav's children invented a game of tag called "Shimshon Walzer."
Of the 40 cases in which there is suspicion of abuse by Walzer, the police have collected complaints and testimony from 16 purported victims, who were aged between 7 and 16 when the acts were committed. Two complained against the additional suspect. Many of the witnesses, now married and living outside the moshav, were not willing to make official complaints, for fear they would be exposed. The acts were apparently frequent, and committed in abandoned barns and chicken coops, or surrounding fields.
From the testimony collected by the investigators, it emerges that the patterns of action of the two suspects were similar: molestation of minors aged 9, 10 and above, most from families with a lower status on the moshav. Walzer would pick them up from the school or the synagogue in his car, and sometimes molest them in the mikveh (ritual bath ).
Over the years, residents say, people lowered their voices when they spoke about incidents they had seen: the flash of naked bodies through the windows of a parked car, a boy groping with Walzer among the bushes, suspicious movements near the mikveh.
Some claimed with self-conviction that their children weren't among the victims. "I have girls and he abused boys," said one woman, though the suspicion is that Walzer abused both sexes.
"I worked in the cow barn all day. My main concern was always supporting my family," said another resident. "I am shocked. But the truth is, I don't dare ask my children whether they were molested."
Children were warned to stay away from Walzer. "From a very young age, we knew he was dangerous," related one inhabitant.
Complaints were made, however, to the moshav's rabbinical establishment. From the testimony, it emerges that they were silenced time after time with the pretext that the matter would be dealt with, or that the incidents were not current.
In fact, parents' protest led to the termination of Walzer's work as a teacher 18 years ago. Instead, he was given offices in the school building where he established a workshop for making tefillin (phylacteries ).
One witness told investigators that when the parents protested yet again, a functionary was brought in from Jerusalem and put in charge of dealing with Walzer. However, in the end, say investigators, it was decided to distance Walzer from the moshav and he was sent abroad to raise money.
As long as the police were not let in on the secret, however, the acts continued, according to the suspicion.
'Not in my time'
The extent of the denial pervading the moshav emerges from testimony that one community council member gave investigators. The witness related a series of "rumors" involving residents, whom he named. Among them were some whom Walzer purportedly abused when they were minors, and others apparently abused by other people.
When the investigators asked why he hadn't complained to the police, the man replied: "The incidents occurred in the past, not in my time. We were not able to know exactly when." He added that, "the victim who is harmed doesn't tell and it's natural that way. And from what I hear, most of the parents of the children who were harmed didn't hear a thing and didn't know anything about it ... They were afraid to ask the children so as not to traumatize them. I can't remember exactly when and with which parents I talked about Shimshon and they said it was an old story and nothing could be done about it, and above all it would harm matches [for marriages] for their children if made public. We are afraid that would be more harmful."
Asked why he was telling the story today, the witness said: "We want an end to it for the sake of our children." Later he recalled that one of the victims, who had in fact complained against the other suspect, had told him two years ago about the sexual abuse he had undergone.
The police visited the homes of people who might have been abused as children and asked them to testify; they also went to yeshivas in Bnei Brak where there are people who may have been in contact with the suspect. Many did not cooperate. Others, who agreed, changed their minds after they were apparently threatened. However, a few of the victims did file complaints.
From their testimony it emerges that even though revealing their secret was a relief, this did not suffice to convince them to complain formally or to confront the attackers. "I don't feel good about it. He is old," one said.
Parents of minors did not cooperate for fear their testimony would harm their sons' chances of a good marriage match. As a result, most of the complainants in the case are adults who have no connection with the moshav now, and some have given up a religious lifestyle.
Only today, 20 years later, has one of the complainants against Walzer told what exactly happened. He was 9 years old when Walzer offered him a ride home from the synagogue. "It was in the evening, but I didn't suspect anything because he had been my 'rebbe' the previous year," he relates. "The truth is, I was even glad to ride with him in the car."
Walzer did not take him home, but rather to a chicken coop at the edge of the moshav. "I was a naive child," relates the complainant. "He started to take off my pants and play with my body. When I resisted, he took his gartel (a thin belt worn by Hasids ) and tied me to him. I don't remember how long it lasted or how I got home."
He did not reveal what he already knew - that "it was a routine thing to go with [Walzer]," as he says. "Friends talked about what they did with him; sexual things that shouldn't be happening to children."
"Until we heard about what happened to our son, I didn't know there was such a thing," relates one woman, whose son complained. "My big sons wanted to beat him up and kill him, but we felt sorry for his wife and his children."
Today, in retrospect, she is remorseful. "I ask myself, what did I do? How did I relate to it? We just yelled that they should kick him out of the school and we believed the principal. Why didn't we go to the police?"
Despite the acts of which he is suspected, about which everyone supposedly knew, Walzer was put in charge of the synagogue and renovated it at his own expense. One local person commented bitterly: "Apparently in order to get respect in the moshav, you have to rape children." The speaker and his family are among the few who, even though they did not have the courage to turn to the police because they feared din moser (the duty to eliminate a Jew who intends to turn another Jew in to non-religious authorities ), fought Walzer in ways acceptable in ultra-Orthodox society: First, they spoke to the principal of the school and the rabbi of the moshav and subsequently they testified at a rabbinical court in Bnei Brak, but to no avail.
The finger of blame in the moshav is now pointed at the accusers. They are being shunned. They are not called up to say the blessings from the Torah in the synagogue on the Sabbath. No one is speaking to them. Their children have no one to play with.
Nor does the complainant against the other suspect feel relief as a result of the indictment. He will soon be 20 years old. According to the charges, for about four years, from age 9 to 13, he would be called over by the suspect during se'udah shilishit (the traditional late-afternoon meal on the Sabbath ) in the synagogue, and undergo abuse behind a hedge near the mikveh.
"The first time, I went in all innocence. I didn't resist," the complainant told Haaretz. "I froze to the spot. I didn't understand what was happening." The longer the acts continued and became more sophisticated, the more ashamed he was: "I knew it wasn't right. I was in total shock. I was in pain."
He says he was raped twice, and each time the suspect warned him to keep mum. He explains that he obeyed because it is a principle in ultra- Orthodox society to obey every adult. He adds that the abuse stopped when he reached the age of 13, and that he dropped out of the yeshiva a short time later.
During the police inquiry, it emerged that two years ago an investigation was opened against this same complainant on the grounds that he himself had abused a minor, but the case was closed for lack of evidence.
He says he told the police investigators he was "sorry I had unwittingly harmed another child." In a conversation with him last month, he said: "When I look at my brothers, I don't know if they are happy but they are married and they have a normal life. I look at myself. From the age of 16 I've been living away from home, looking after myself. And I don't have anyone to cry to. To my mind, the ultra-Orthodox are hypocritical people. My mother said to me, 'The whole moshav doesn't need to suffer because of you.' I am not angry at my mother. She is afraid. I went home to her and I told her everything. She said she didn't know about it, that the deeds were done a long time ago, that it's passed. What hurts most is she didn't come with me to complain."
Attorneys Yehuda Fried and Tal Gabay, who are representing the two suspects, have informed Haaretz that Walzer went to the United States "on a routine mission on behalf of the moshav's educational institutions, even before he knew he was wanted for questioning ... When he decides to return to Israel he will fight to clear his name.
"As an addendum to this investigation the name of our [other] client came up, also as a suspect in similar offenses. The complainant in the case was questioned in the past as a suspect in acts of sodomy with minors, a case that was closed because of difficulties in proving the evidence against him. The complainant was expelled from ultra-Orthodox society because of unsuitability. Any reasonable person who reads the complainant's testimony against our client understands this is a complainant who, to put it mildly, is suffering from problems of credibility, and it is obvious he has a desire to harm ultra-Orthodox society in general and the Walzer family in particular. We believe his testimony will not hold up at all."
The lawyers added: "The court, in a series of decisions, released our client from detention. We believe we will be able to convince the honorable court of our client's innocence."

Forgets not that heroic waltz is in fashion - speaking care on your children
By Roni Dmari 
May 26, 2010
Translated Using Google - Original Hebrew below

Forgets not that heroic waltz is in fashion - speaking care on your children

House Seat Harry the more "Rabbi" mkummius

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Solomon ultsr bharkhs metsru in court Peace bashdud. Photo: Adi Israel

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פארגעסט נישט אז שמשון וואלצער איז אין מאנסי - געבט אבאכט אויף אייערע קינדער

בית המשפט האריך את מעצר "הרב" מקוממיות

השופט האריך עד ליום ראשון את מעצרו של שלמה ולצר החשוד בביצוע מעשי סדום בילדים הוחלט. הערב הוא יורשה לצאת לחתונת אחיו
רונן דמארי | 26/5/2010 19:01

בית משפט השלום באשדוד האריך עד יום ראשון את מעצרו של שלמה ולצר, מלמד תורה בן 24, החשוד כי ביצע מעשים מגונים ומעשי סדום בילדים בקוממיות. הארכת המעצר התבצעה בהסכמת עורכי דינו, יהודה פריד וטל גבאי, כאשר בתמורה לכך שוחרר ולצר בערבות לחתונת אחיו שתיערך הערב, כאשר הוא מתחייב לשוב למעצר מיד עם סיומה.

שלמה ולצר בהארכת מעצרו בבית מפשט השלום באשדוד. צילום: אדי ישראל

על פי החשד ולצר ביצע את מרבית העבירות לפני כשמונה שנים כאשר היה קטין. עם זאת, במשטרה חושדים כי הוא ביצע מעשים מגונים גם בשנתיים האחרונות במודיעין עילית, בה הוא מתגורר כיום. 

במשטרה עדיין עושים ניסיונות לשכנע את אביו של שלמה, שמשון ולצר, לחזור לארץ ולהתייצב לחקירה לה הוא דרוש בחשד להתעללות מינית בעשרות ילדים במושב קוממיות בו הוא מתגורר. 

בשבועות האחרונים הגיעו חוקרי המשטרה פעמים רבות למושב, אך התקשו לאסוף ראיות, שכן מרבית התושבים סירבו לשתף פעולה. מקורבי ולצר תהו אמש: "מדובר בחשדות ישנים, מדוע נזכרו בהם לאחר כל כך הרבה שנים?". גם אשתו של ולצר, רייזל, אמרה: "אני מזועזעת. הילדים שלי המומים. שאלו אותי על החשדות, ואמרתי להם 'איך אתם מעזים לדבר כך על אבא? הוא אדם ישר'". 

גורמים במושב סיפרו כי הפרשה שנשמרה בחדרי חדרים במשך שנים רבות התפוצצה בסופו של דבר בעקבות סכסוך פנימי בין תושבי היישוב הקטן. לדבריהם, ולצר הודיע לאחד התושבים כי אסור לו לגדל עזים בשל איסור הלכתי לגדל בהמה דקה. תגובתו של התושב הייתה: 'אם זה כך, עכשיו נטפל בבהמה הגסה'. לטענת אותם גורמים לאחר מכן הוא העביר את המידע על ההתעללות המינית למשטרה.


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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."  –– Margaret Mead


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Shabbatai Tzvi - cult leader

Does history repeat itself when it comes to cult leaders in the orthodox Jewish world?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Case of Meir Dascalowitz

Case of Meir Dascalowitz
Williamsburg - Brooklyn, NY

Convicted on charges of 2nd Degree Criminal Sexual Act.  Meir Dascalowitz was originally arrested on May 11, 2010 on charges that he molested a 12-year-old boy in a mikvah.  He was arraigned on May 12, 2010 on multiple charges, including 10 Felony D charges of criminal sexual activity with a minor under 15 years of age, as well as several other felony and misdemeanor charges.

Dascalowitz was originaly from (Williamsburg) Brooklyn, NY and a Pupa chasid.

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. Meir Dascalowitz was originally arrested on May 11, 2010 on charges that he molested a 12-year-old boy in a mikvah (05/11/2010)

  1. WPIX - Dascalowitz Accuser (07/06/2011)


  1. Silence and self-rule: Brooklyn's Orthodox child abuse cover-up (03/29/2012)
  2. Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse (05/09/2012)

  1. Man pleads guilty to molesting Hasidic teen in ritual bath (04/18/2013)
  2. Man who molested boy in Jewish bath house gets five years — and an earful from the victim whose life he ‘ruined’ (05/01/2013)
  3. Meir Dascalowitz, who pleaded guilty to molesting 15-year-old boy in Williamsburg, heads to prison  (05/02/2013)
  4. Orthodox families in NYC and Rockland shunned for reporting sexual abuse (07/11/2013)

Whole new nightmare for teen molest ‘victim’
By Paul Martinka
New York Post - January 14, 2013

He JUST wants justice for his son.

It may never come.

In the 2 1/2 years since Mordechai Jungreis’ boy revealed the awful truth — the mentally disabled teen was allegedly molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse — Jungreis (pictured) has turned from a respected member of the Hasidic community into a leper. A nobody.

Pond scum.

Jungreis, his wife and four children were kicked out of their apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and forced to move to the community’s outskirts. They found a new synagogue that would accept them.

His son, “badly damaged” by the alleged abuse, was targeted a second time, he said, expelled from two yeshivas. Summer camp, too.

People on the street crossed to the other side when Jungreis walked by. Words of abuse were hurled anonymously into the telephone. Or on the street.

As a Jew, I’m horrified that, in 2013, Jungreis, 38, could be punished, vilified and treated worse than a criminal. All for publicly accusing a fellow Jew of a heinous crime?

Finally, tomorrow, Meir Dascalowitz, 29, the man charged in 2010 with molesting the teen, is scheduled for a pretrial hearing in a crime that, Jungreis says, he discovered after finding blood on his boy’s underwear. Jungreis hopes this exercise in jurisprudence will put his nightmare to rest.

He expects nothing.

“I went through hell,” Jungreis, who once considered himself a member of the Bobov ultra-Orthodox community, told me.

“We used to pray in the park, because I wasn’t allowed in the synagogue. My son is not in school.’’

And now, Dascalowitz has the full support of Jungreis’ neighbors.

“Everyone is running away from my child,’’ said Jungreis, whose son is afflicted with learning disabilities and a low IQ. The boy, now 17, is tested regularly for HIV.

“What about my child? This is a disabled child. And they’re screaming at me in the street!”

The ugly cloak of secrecy that has long ruled the Jews of Williamsburg was ripped to shreds last month. A Brooklyn jury convicted Satmar Nechemya Weberman of 59 counts for sexually abusing a now-18-year-old woman from the time she was 12.

The parallels with Jungreis’ case are inescapable. Weberman’s victim contends she was maimed again by her fellow Jews after she came forward. As Weberman, 54, prepares to be sentenced next week, one question remains:

Have things changed?

“On the one hand, advocates and victims feel empowered” by Weberman’s conviction, said Ben Hirsch, spokesman for Survivors for Justice, which supports sex-abuse victims.

But “the courageous victim in the Weberman case has been publicly vilified by the grand rabbi of Satmar, and thousands of Hasidim have publicly supported Weberman.” Hirsch accused Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes of lacking the guts to fight Jewish leaders who intimidate victims.

Hynes’ spokesman Jerry Schmetterer insists that the DA gives no special treatment — having arrested more than 100 Hasidim for sexual crimes since 2009.

Dascalowitz, who was married with a son, was locked in a mental hospital in 2011 to determine if he’s competent to stand trial.

“He’s playing games,” Jungreis insists. Since Dascalowitz was released from the hospital last year, he’s been held in lieu of $150,000 bond, charged with 10 felony counts of criminal sexual act, plus 10 misdemeanor counts apiece of sexual misconduct and sexual abuse, and one of endangering the welfare of a child.

“I’m not going to discuss the innocence or the guilt. I wasn’t there,” said his lawyer, Israel Fried. He complained that it’s gotten hard to defend Orthodox Jews.

“It’s becoming more difficult because of the publicity attached to the case and the pressure the community is placing on both the DA’s Office and on the courts.”

Cry me a river.

Meanwhile, a disabled teenager sits at home, hoping for justice.

In his community, it remains elusive.



WPIX - Dascalowitz Accuser
WPIX - July 6, 2011
Mary Murphy talk to a victim of Hasidic molester Meir Dascalowitz


Silence and self-rule: Brooklyn's Orthodox child abuse cover-up
By Zoe Blackler
The Guardian - March 29, 2012

Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox rabbis claim they are co-operating with authorities over child sex abuse. But victims say they are being persecuted – and that the DA is doing little to help

When Mordechai discovered his mentally disabled child was being molested, he reported the crime to the police. A local man was arrested and charged with repeatedly raping the boy in their synagogue's ritual bath. When news of the arrest got back to their Brooklyn community, the neighbours launched a hate campaign. But the object of their anger wasn't the alleged perpetrator, Meir Dascalowitz, it was the abused boy's father.

For the last two years, Mordechai says he's been hounded by his community. "The minute this guy got arrested I started a new life, a life of hell, terror, threat, you name it." There were bogus calls to the fire department resulting in unwelcome late night visits, anonymous death threats, banishment from synagogue, even a plot to derail his move to a new apartment. "I lost my friends. I lost my family. Nobody in Williamsburg can talk to me. Nobody means nobody. We are so angry, so broken."

Mordechai's persecution is part of a widespread cover-up of child sexual abuse among Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jews. With echoes of the Catholic priest scandal, for decades rabbis have hushed up child sex crimes and fomented a culture in which victims are further victimised and abusers protected.

After the first claims of a cover-up surfaced in the mid 2000s, the rabbis' stance was outright denial – not only that crimes were being concealed, but of the very existence of ultra-Orthodox child molesters. In the years since, victim advocates and whistle-blower blogs have forced open the issue. Today, the religious leadership claims to co-operate with law enforcement. The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles Hynes, long vilified by advocates for his inaction, now cares to be seen to be prosecuting – though how enthusiastically is in dispute. And attitudes within the community have shifted marginally.

But the essence of the problem has changed little. Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox enclaves remain close-knit and insular, suspicious of secular authority and contemptuous of the criminal justice system. Religious leaders command strict authority inside their communities and have the external political power to demand a degree of self-rule. Ideal conditions for a cover-up.

Lawyer and advocate Michael Lesher has campaigned for years to break the rabbis' stronghold and get abusers into court. There is a misapprehension, he says, that every time a child sex crime reaches the media it disgraces the community. "In reality, it gets reported but only as part of the generally muck and mire of grease-blotter journalism." But when cases are covered up, that really is a scandal. "That is a crime of a different order."

'The blood of all those victims is on their hands'
Unlike Mordechai, few victims inside the community will tell their stories publicly. But in recent years, a number of adult survivors, now living outside the religion and no longer bound by its taboos, have spoken out.

Joel Engelman says he was molested at the age of eight by his teacher, Rabbi Avrohom Reichman. Four years ago he sued his former school after it failed to dismiss Reichman. Engelman, by then in his early 20s, had gone to the school to report his abuser and seek redress. The religious leadership investigated, concluded that Reichman was guilty and did nothing, the suit said. Reichman is still teaching there today. (Engelman's civil suit was dismissed on statute of limitations grounds.)

Luzer Twersky, 26, was abused for three years from the age of nine by his private tutor. It only ended when David Greenfeld – whose father was a respected member of the community ≠ was discovered abusing another boy in a ritual bath, a mikvah. Greenfeld continued teaching until his arrest in 2009 on fresh molestation charges. In January, the case against him collapsed because the victim's family would not co-operate, the DA's spokesperson said.

Both men say that when they were growing up – Engelman in Williamsburg, Twersky in Borough Park – the more rampant child molesters were well known to their group of friends.
During research for this article, I heard numerous stories like Twersky's and Engelman's. Though the details varied, the dynamics of the cover-up were always the same. Many were relayed secondhand, the victims themselves refused to speak. There was the boy molested by his teacher, a rabbi. When his mother found out, the teacher was temporarily suspended, only to be appointed principal a few years later. There was the childhood friend, condemned for accusing a respected family man, who later committed suicide. The abusive father, who pleaded with rabbis to hush up the crime, which they did, now works with children. And just a few months ago, a 14-year-old boy sent by his rabbi to apologise to his molester for seducing him.

As consistent as the tales of cover up are those of community intimidation, where victims are branded a moser – an informer – excluded from school, spat on in synagogue, their families threatened and harassed by supporters of the accused.

On the occasions the religious leaders have taken action, they've turned to their shadow justice system, the religious courts known as the beit din. But lacking investigative powers, forensic expertise or means of enforcement, the beit din are wholly ineffectual in trying molesters. At other times, they've shuffled offenders off for "treatment", typically to unlicensed therapists.

"My story is one of hundreds they've covered up," said one victim who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. "The blood of all those victims is on their hands."

Of all the horror stories, the most notorious involves Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, for several decades a teacher at Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn and a summer camp counsellor.

In 2006, two adult men publicly accused Kolko of molesting them as children, one in the late 1960s, another in the mid 1980s. In a civil suit, the men claimed that rabbis first learnt Kolko was a serial molester back in the 1980s. At that time, a beit din was convened. But Kolko enjoyed the protection of his school principal, Rabbi Lipa Margulies, whose intimidation of witnesses and concealment of information made victims drop their claims, the complaint said. The religious court proceedings came to nothing.

The men took their stories to the mainstream media and the revelations shook the ultra-Orthodox community. Their civil suit was thrown out on statute of limitations grounds but during the publicity two of Kolko's current students, boys aged eight and nine, revealed that they too had been abused. Kolko was indicted on felony sexual abuse charges.

Ben Hirsch of victims support group Survivors for Justice was instrumental in getting their cases to court. "The two kids were prepared to take the stand. The families were supportive. Other victims, ranging in age from their 20s to mid 50s, including a lawyer, were prepared to testify that Kolko had molested them as children. There was solid evidence he'd been molesting boys for decades. We'd given the DA well over a dozen names of people willing to co-operate. It was a rock solid case."

But instead of putting Kolko on trial, the DA gave him a deal. In April 2008, Kolko pled guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment (not a sex crime), was given three years probation, was not required to register as a sex offender, and returned to life as normal in Borough Park.

The DA said the families refused to let their children testify.

Ben Hirsch says that's untrue. He says the parents were presented with a done deal. When the father of one boy signed a letter agreeing to the plea, he sent it back with another, written in his own words: "My son was ready to go to trial and we feel he would have done an excellent job and I am sorry to hear that [Yehuda] Kolko will not proceed further … I feel justice was not served," he wrote. And he signed off: "I will end by saying I understand what the district attorney wants from me and I will sign the letter."

Hirsch and the other advocates were incensed. "We don't know the back story, but we think the DA was under great pressure from the community and he buckled," Hirsch says.

The Kolko case is no aberration, says lawyer Michael Lesher. For further evidence, he points to the failed extradition of Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz, another cause celebre. Mondrowitz was an unqualified psychologist who used his practice to gain access to vulnerable children. He also had powerful friends within his sect who protected him for years. It was only after Mondrowitz abused a number of non-Orthodox children that the police were called in. In 1984, on the eve of his arrest, Mondrowitz fled the country, turning up in Israel a few months later. It's widely believed he received a tip off.

At that time, Israel didn't recognise sodomy (since renamed criminal sexual act) as an extraditable offence and Mondrowitz was beyond reach. But in 1988, that law was changed, raising the possibility of bringing Mondrowitz back to Brooklyn. Not long after Hynes came into office in 1990, however, he abandoned the extradition effort. In January 2007, a new extradition treaty was drawn up that reflected the change in Israeli law, and that autumn Hynes did file a fresh request, but only after months of campaigning by advocates. When Israel's supreme court ultimately refused the request, it said America had left it too long.

"The man was indicted on 14 charges including five counts of sodomy and the DA says we don't want him: that is how strong the Orthodox influence can be," Lesher says.

Lesher is trying to obtain the DA's files on Mondrowitz – two boxes of them – through the freedom of information law. The DA is fighting him. At the latest hearing in February, the DA's office argued the case was ongoing and the contents of the files remained sensitive. But in a radio interview a few weeks before, when asked about getting Mondrowitz back, Hynes replied: "That's finished, finished." Mondrowitz, meanwhile is still living freely in Israel.

Defenders of the DA say he's hamstrung by his lack of access to the community. Child sex crimes are hard enough to prosecute at the best of times. Often the victim comes forward only years later, with scant evidence and no witnesses. Even when the crime is current, a child's word is pitted against an adult's, frequently one in a position of power and authority. It is no surprise few reach the courts and of those that do, the majority end in plea deals. With a community suspicious of law enforcement, where witnesses drop out under community pressure and leaders impede investigation, the problems are particularly acute.
But Hynes' detractors believe there's more going on.

Mark Dratch, a modern-Orthodox rabbi, founded JSafe to tackle abuse in the Jewish community. "The DA's position is an elected position, and the Orthodox have a large voting bloc and I'm sure Mr Hynes will deny it but I think that is the nature of the situation. I know there is a lot of pressure on his office from the organised rabbinic community in Brooklyn either not to deal with the cases or to minimise them."

'If it's someone prominent, the community won't co-operate'
In April 2009, in the wake of controversy over Kolko and Mondrowitz, Charles Hynes launched Kol Tzedek. Hebrew for voice of justice, Kol Tzedek was described in publicity at the time as "an outreach program aimed at helping sex-crime victims in Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish Communities report abuse". Its centrepiece is a hotline for victims, staffed by a culturally sensitive social worker.

More broadly, Kol Tzedek is the formalisation of a relationship with community leaders.

Rabbi Yosef Blau of Yeshiva University (a longtime victims advocate and a more moderate rabbi than his Brooklyn counterparts) describes how such a relationship works. If the police doesn't have the cooperation of the community there is little it can do, not just to investigate crimes but learn of them in the first instance. "So one approach is to go to the leaders and say, we're sensitive to your community needs, tell us under what conditions you're prepared to work with us." The leaders will ask for a liaison, someone who understands them, and in return, direct their people to cooperate. "But that doesn't actually work, because the liaison is representing the community and not truly loyal to the police."

In reality, the community may hand over minor figures but will continue to shield those in positions of power. Blau believes this is happening with Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox. "Yes, Hynes has got a number of cases into the courts, but they're all the nobodies. They won't get somebody prominent because then the community won't co-operate. But if it's some weird guy, OK, let the police handle it."

The DA's office claims there were 85 arrests and 29 convictions between the launch of Kol Tzedek and November last year. But it repeatedly refuses to reveal names or case numbers. The DA's spokesperson Jerry Schmetterer said the policy was adopted to protect the victims' anonymity. Despite Hynes' secrecy, a number of cases have become known to victim advocates. Of the known cases currently open, with a few exceptions, most fit Blau's analysis.

The DA's office says 23 of the successful convictions through Kol Tzedek were the result of plea deals. But it also says that six cases went to trial. Advocates know of only two. Yona Weinberg, a bar mitzah tutor, was sentenced to 13 months in jail in October 2009. At the trial, Judge Reichbach reportedly condemned the Orthodox community for its ill treatment of victims and its 'circle the wagons attitude'. (The DA counts Weinberg as a Kol Tzedek case, even though he was arrested in May 2008, a year before the programme began.)

Two years ago, Rabbi Baruch Lebovits was tried and sentenced to the maximum term, 10 2/3 to 32 years, for his repeated abuse of a 16-year-old boy. Lebovits was well known within the community as a child molester but his behaviour went unchallenged for decades. In the run up to the trial, Lebovits turned down a plea deal from the DA which would have given him just one-and-a-third to four years jail time, according to a local TV news report. (The DA refused to confirm the terms of the deal.)

Today, Lebovits' prosecution is in danger of collapse. Another ultra-Orthodox Jew close to the trial is charged with attempting to extort $400,000 from Lebovits' family to have alleged victims pull out and prevent further victims from coming forward. Samuel Kellner is also accused of paying another boy $10,000 to testify falsely to the grand jury. In contrast to Hynes's usual position on publicity, when Kellner was indicted last April the DA announced the news at a press conference. (Lebovits is now challenging his conviction.)

Of the handful of other successful convictions known to advocates, there appears to be a pattern of weak prosecutions, out of step with national trends. Of the eight Orthodox Brooklyn Jews on the New York sex offender registry, prosecuted in Brooklyn, four received probationary sentences. Elizabeth Jeglic, a researcher of sex crimes policy at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says that since the mid to late 1990s, sex crimes sentencing has become increasingly severe. Notwithstanding the many obstacles to prosecution, she says a national average sentence for child molesters is seven years with three of those served. Probationary sentences are unusual. All sex crimes against children – both penetration and fondling – are treated with great seriousness, and there is little difference in sentencing between them, she says.

Opinions vary enormously on the relative merits of custodial and probationary sentences. Jail time keeps abusers away from children and sends a message to other offenders. But therapy alone can be very effective at reducing relapse rates, says Kenneth Lau of Fordham University, president of the New York Association of the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. Therapy is not intended to "cure" sex offenders, however, but to give them strategies for controlling their behaviour. Avoiding dangerous situations is key. Different categories of offenders are at greater or lesser risk of re-offending and respond differently to therapy. Incest is the easiest to control, exhibitionism the hardest.

Elizabeth Jeglic believes the best approach combines a custodial sentence with sex offender specific treatment. Monitoring is also a crucial element, she says. The community needs to know the identity of offenders to help limit their access to potential victims. A principle at odds with Hynes' secrecy policy.

In a video interview posted on the internet in December by photographer Shimon Gifter, Hynes said he had reached a "rapprochement" with a prominent rabbinic leader, who now understood the beit din "were no substitute for the prosecution of sexual predators". Addressing an Orthodox audience, he went on to say: "Not everyone goes to jail. We have programmes for people who have this sickness."

In Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox communities, the past use of therapy as a substitute for prosecution has had disastrous consequences. Investigations by the Jewish Week have revealed that before their eventual arrests, both Stefan Colmer (who has just completed a two and a half year sentence for abusing two teenage boys) and Rabbi Emanuel Yegutkin (who is currently facing 110 charges for the sexual abuse of two boys over several years, one from the age of seven) were previously sent by rabbis for voluntary sex offender treatment at OHEL, the Jewish social services agency based in Borough Park.

OHEL took on both men as patients, rather than tell the rabbis to call the police. OHEL did not act illegally (since under the circumstances it was not obliged to report the men to the authorities), and today it says it no longer treats sex offenders. But that past practice continues to cast a shadow. OHEL is a partner in Kol Tzedek – its role, Hynes said in the December video interview, is to encourage reporting. (The DA's office refused to clarify the exact nature of its relationship with OHEL.)

David Pollock, associate executive director of Jewish Community Relations Council New York, acts as a "bridge" between Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox and the police. Pollock say the DA is sensitive to the concerns of the community – not least its resistance to long custodial sentences. The ultra-Orthodox are often poor, with large families, the women having married young with no means of self-support. If the abuser is the husband, incarcerating the breadwinner risks leaving the family destitute. "The cure could be considered worse than the disease." The DA's office, Pollock says, is aware of these issues. "If we can figure out a way that they can more effectively do their job, they're usually very flexible."

At issue is whether Hynes in his "flexibility" towards ultra-Orthodox child sex crimes is ceding control to the rabbis. Michael Lesher believes he is. "I think to some extent the office is legitimately interested in adapting itself to the mores of the community" in order to achieve prosecutions. "But it's very easy to claim that's what you're doing when in fact you're buckling to political pressure. And I would say that's a far better description of what's really happening."

'With all respect, Rabbis should stop interfering with the process'
Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella organisation for Brooklyn's many ultra-Orthodox factions, embraces the various Hasidic sects (with a few exceptions, notably Satmar) and the other non-Hasidic groups. Agudath also pronounces on Jewish law, as interpreted by its council of Torah sages. As such it dictates to its substantial membership how to live their lives.

For the last few months, Agudath has publicised the sages' legal ruling on reporting child sex abuse. An ultra-Orthodox Jew who suspects a child is being molested must first consult with a senior rabbi before going to the authorities. The rabbi – who must be knowledgeable about both Jewish law and child abuse – will decide if the suspicions pass a threshold known as raglayim la'davar, or reason to believe. Only then can the matter be referred on.

"A person can be destroyed if allegations which are baseless are raised against him," says Rabbi David Zwiebel, Agudath's executive vice-president, by way of explanation. Zwiebel says he is aware some rabbis still conceal allegations, but insists the large majority are now fully engaged with law enforcement.

Agudath aims to reconcile "to the extent possible" the obligations of secular law with the dictates of Jewish halachic law. All the rule does, Zwiebel says, "is inject into the process an extra layer … I don't see that as a real deviation from the secular law."

In New York state, however, social workers, teachers and members of other defined professions (although not clergy) are mandated reporters – they are required by law to report suspicions of child abuse, "immediately" and before consulting a supervisor, or for that matter, a rabbi. In response to a query about Agudath's position, the Office of Children and Family Services said that if a person meets the standards for a mandated reporter "there is no legal authority for the screening out of potential reports". If an Orthodox teacher or social worker were to follows the sages' ruling, they would be breaking the law.

"The rabbis are wonderful spiritual leaders and they should be doing what they do best, spiritual guidance," says Mark Meyer Appel, whose group Voice of Justice gives emotional support to victims and their families. "But they don't have the experience to deal with issues of child abuse. With all respect, they should stop interfering with the process."

Or as Mondrowitz survivor Mark Weiss puts it: "If your house is burning down, who are you going to call? The fire department or a rabbi?"

Agudath's Rabbi Zwiebel denies there is a surreptitious deal with the DA. His organisation wasn't consulted on Kol Tzedek, he says. But he is explicit about his expectations of Hynes. "If the DA doesn't understand [that there is a Jewish law] there will be far less co-operation with the criminal justice system – because of the culture and the general sense in the community, that has prevailed for thousands of years, that typically there are things which, if at all possible, should be handled internally within the community."

Zwiebel stands by his assertion, first expressed publicly in 2009, that the DA should not attempt to encroach on the power of the rabbis. "If the civil authorities are going to come into the community like gangbusters and say we don't care about your rabbis and we don't care about your customs and we don't care about your culture and none of this matters to us, they'll get far less cooperation from the community … I think [Hynes] is working within a reality. And he's wise to work within that reality."

Agudath's sister body Torah Umesorah represents the interests of New York's 360, Orthodox Jewish yeshiva schools, some of which have been accused of harbouring child molesters. For now these private schools are protected, not just by the conspiracy of silence, but also by the law. In New York, child molestation victims have only two or five years after they reach the age of 18 (depending on the allegations) to bring about a prosecution. Five years to bring about a civil suit. Assemblywoman Margaret Markey is sponsoring a bill that would extend each of those statute of limitations by a further five years. The Child Victims Act would also open a one-year window, during which time a victim at any age could take out a civil action against their perpetrator – or the school or other institution where they worked.

Despite repeated success in the assembly, Markey's bill keeps failing to reach the Senate. Powerful religious groups are lobbying against it. The Catholic bishops are aggressively fighting the bill, and alongside them: Agudath Israel of America.

Zwiebel argues the bill would invite capricious litigation "that could be extremely harmful to some of the most important institutions in our community". But it isn't the capricious law suits that really worry Agudath but the genuine ones, says Shmarya Rosenberg whose blog Failed Messiah has been following the issue. Just like the Catholic Church, the yeshivas stand to lose millions.

"If the rabbis do what is really necessary to solve the problem they will expose themselves to lawsuits and public ridicule because quite frankly they have done a lot of very bad things," Rosenberg says. For now, their strategy is to shore up their defences.

For all Agudath's belligerence – and the silence of the Orthodox Union, which will not comment publicly – there are some signs of dissent within the rabbinic leadership. Increasingly, some disgruntled rabbis are saying they've had enough, says community liaison David Pollock. Though he cannot guess at numbers, there are those who believe, even if they won't state their positions publicly, that the failures of the past prove it is time to welcome outside help.

Last summer the rabbis on the Crown Heights Beit Din even ruled that reporting child abuse is not mesirah – the ancient taboo against informing on another Jew – and that cases must not be taken to them, but to the secular authorities.

'The DA doesn't want to go out as having been soft on child abusers'
Last month, to escape the intimidation, Mordechai moved his family to a new apartment. With the boxes still unpacked, two local girls invited his daughter to a welcome party. At school the next day they wouldn't talk to her or play with her. Their parents had forbidden it. "This is what I'm going through," he says, for taking a child molester off the streets. "Didn't I do the right thing?"

Throughout his ordeal, Mordechai feels he's had no protection from the Brooklyn DA. So he went online to research his rights. "Victims have rights! We were never told." As a whistle-blower in the Jewish community they knew he was going to suffer like hell, he says, but they "did a zero for us". He has a message for the DA's office: "Once a month, give a call to this family. Say, 'How you doing? How's your wife doing? How are your children doing?'" (The DA's spokesperson said the office takes every allegation of witness intimidation seriously.)

Last summer, his son's alleged abuser Meir Dascalowitz was judged mentally unfit to proceed and sent to a mental hospital. Before the case was put on hold, Mordechai says he learned the DA planned to offer Dascalowitz a deal, against his wishes. When Mordechai told the victims advocates, they held a demonstration outside the DA's office. (DA spokesperson Jerry Schmetterer said no plea is taken without the express agreement of the victim and/or the victim's family.)

But for all the criticism of Hynes and his recent claims for Kol Tzedek, some advocates nonetheless believe he is sincere.

"I don't think he wants to go out under a cloud as having been soft on child abusers," says Michael Lesher. "But to change his record without political bloodletting, he has to work with the existing structure." Not least Agudath and OHEL.

Rabbi Blau is less optimistic. Although Hynes is in a stronger position today than he was five years ago, Blau doubts he's about to get tougher: "You get locked into a position. The DA in Brooklyn has been there for a very long time. People don't change their policies that late in the game."

Blau is quick to add that there has been some improvement in community attitudes in recent years – but that change is being driven from the bottom up, by the bloggers and advocates.

Many believe that for Hynes to really break the cover-up he would need to stop working with the rabbis and start prosecuting anyone found interfering with witnesses. "The rabbis will only stop if they know the price they are going to pay is arrest, public humiliation and prison even," says Ben Hirsch. "It would be a game-changer. It would be the equivalent of a nuclear explosion."

As it is, the rabbinic leadership shows little sign of acting on its own accord.

When Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind first started using his radio show to discuss child sexual abuse some questioned his right to interfere, he says. "So I told the leader of a major Jewish organisation in the religious community: 'I will stop doing everything I'm doing if you commit to me that you will take charge of this and do what needs to be done. If you accept my offer, please call me and I will be out of it.'" That was five years ago. Hikind is still waiting.


Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse
By Sharon Otterman
New York Times - May 9, 2012

The first shock came when Mordechai Jungreis learned that his mentally disabled teenage son was being molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse in Brooklyn. The second came after Mr. Jungreis complained, and the man accused of the abuse was arrested.

Old friends started walking stonily past him and his family on the streets of Williamsburg. Their landlord kicked them out of their apartment. Anonymous messages filled their answering machine, cursing Mr. Jungreis for turning in a fellow Jew. And, he said, the mother of a child in a wheelchair confronted Mr. Jungreis’s mother-in-law, saying the same man had molested her son, and she “did not report this crime, so why did your son-in-law have to?”
By cooperating with the police, and speaking out about his son’s abuse, Mr. Jungreis, 38, found himself at the painful forefront of an issue roiling his insular Hasidic community. There have been glimmers of change as a small number of ultra-Orthodox Jews, taking on longstanding religious and cultural norms, have begun to report child sexual abuse accusations against members of their own communities. But those who come forward often encounter intense intimidation from their neighbors and from rabbinical authorities, aimed at pressuring them to drop their cases.
Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses. Some victims’ families have been offered money, ostensibly to help pay for therapy for the victims, but also to stop pursuing charges, victims and victims’ advocates said.
“Try living for one day with all the pain I am living with,” Mr. Jungreis, spent and distraught, said recently outside his new apartment on Williamsburg’s outskirts. “Did anybody in the Hasidic community in these two years, in Borough Park, in Flatbush, ever come up and look my son in the eye and tell him a good word? Did anybody take the courage to show him mercy in the street?”
A few blocks away, Pearl Engelman, a 64-year-old great-grandmother, said her community had failed her too. In 2008, her son, Joel, told rabbinical authorities that he had been repeatedly groped as a child by a school official at the United Talmudical Academy in Williamsburg. The school briefly removed the official but denied the accusation. And when Joel turned 23, too old to file charges under the state’s statute of limitations, they returned the man to teaching.
“There is no nice way of saying it,” Mrs. Engelman said. “Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful.”
Keeping to Themselves
The New York City area is home to an estimated 250,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews — the largest such community outside of Israel, and one that is growing rapidly because of its high birthrate. The community is concentrated in Brooklyn, where many of the ultra-Orthodox are Hasidim, followers of a fervent spiritual movement that began in 18th-century Europe and applies Jewish law to every aspect of life.
Their communities, headed by dynastic leaders called rebbes, strive to preserve their centuries-old customs by resisting the contaminating influences of the outside world. While some ultra-Orthodox rabbis now argue that a child molester should be reported to the police, others strictly adhere to an ancient prohibition against mesirah, the turning in of a Jew to non-Jewish authorities, and consider publicly airing allegations against fellow Jews to be chillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name.
There are more mundane factors, too. Some ultra-Orthodox Jews want to keep abuse allegations quiet to protect the reputation of the community, and the family of the accused. And rabbinical authorities, eager to maintain control, worry that inviting outside scrutiny could erode their power, said Samuel Heilman, a professor of Jewish studies at Queens College.
“They are more afraid of the outside world than the deviants within their own community,” Dr. Heilman said. “The deviants threaten individuals here or there, but the outside world threatens everyone and the entire structure of their world.”
Scholars believe that abuse rates in the ultra-Orthodox world are roughly the same as those in the general population, but for generations, most ultra-Orthodox abuse victims kept silent, fearful of being stigmatized in a culture where the genders are strictly separated and discussion of sex is taboo. When a victim did come forward, it was generally to rabbis and rabbinical courts, which would sometimes investigate the allegations, pledge to monitor the accused, or order payment to a victim, but not refer the matter to the police.
“You can destroy a person’s life with a false report,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, the executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, a powerful ultra-Orthodox organization, which last year said that observant Jews should not report allegations to the police unless permitted to do so by a rabbi.
Rabbinic authorities “recommend you speak it over with a rabbi before coming to any definitive conclusion in your own mind,” Rabbi Zwiebel said.
When ultra-Orthodox Jews do bring abuse accusations to the police, the same cultural forces that have long kept victims silent often become an obstacle to prosecutions.
In Brooklyn, of the 51 molesting cases involving the ultra-Orthodox community that the district attorney’s office says it has closed since 2009, nine were dismissed because the victims backed out. Others ended with plea deals because the victims’ families were fearful.
“People aren’t recanting, but they don’t want to go forward,” said Rhonnie Jaus, a sex crimes prosecutor in Brooklyn. “We’ve heard some of our victims have been thrown out of schools, that the person is shunned from the synagogue. There’s a lot of pressure.”
The degree of intimidation can vary by neighborhood, by sect and by the prominence of the person accused.
In August 2009, the rows in a courtroom at State Supreme Court in Brooklyn were packed with rabbis, religious school principals and community leaders. Almost all were there in solidarity with Yona Weinberg, a bar mitzvah tutor and licensed social worker from Flatbush who had been convicted of molesting two boys under age 14.
Justice Guston L. Reichbach looked out with disapproval. He recalled testimony about how the boys had been kicked out of their schools or summer camps after bringing their cases, suggesting a “communal attitude that seeks to blame, indeed punish, victims.” And he noted that, of the 90 letters he had received praising Mr. Weinberg, not one displayed “any concern or any sympathy or even any acknowledgment for these young victims, which, frankly, I find shameful.”
“While the crimes the defendant stands convicted of are bad enough,” the judge said before sentencing Mr. Weinberg to 13 months in prison, “what is even more troubling to the court is a communal attitude that seems to impose greater opprobrium on the victims than the perpetrator.”
Silenced by Fear
Intimidation is rarely documented, but just two weeks ago, a Hasidic woman fromKiryas Joel, N.Y., in Orange County, filed a startling statement in a criminal court, detailing the pressure she faced after telling the police that a Hasidic man had molested her son.
“I feel 100 percent threatened and very scared,” she said in her statement. “I feel intimidated and worried about what the consequences are going to be. But I have to protect my son and do what is right.”
Last year, her son, then 14, told the police that he had been offered $20 by a stranger to help move some boxes, but instead, the man brought him to a motel in Woodbury, removed the boy’s pants and masturbated him.
The police, aided by the motel’s security camera, identified the man as Joseph Gelbman, then 52, of Kiamesha Lake, a cook who worked at a boys’ school run by the Vizhnitz Hasidic sect. He was arrested, and the intimidation ensued. Rabbi Israel Hager, a powerful Vizhnitz rabbi in Monsey, N.Y., began calling the mother, asking her to cease her cooperation with the criminal case and, instead, to bring the matter to a rabbinical court under his jurisdiction, according to the mother’s statement to the court. Rabbi Hager did not return repeated calls seeking comment.
“I said: ‘Why? He might do this again to other children,’ ” the mother said in the statement. The mother, who asked that The New York Times not use her name to avoid identifying her son, told the police that the rabbi asked, “What will you gain from this if he goes to jail?” and said that, in a later call, he offered her $20,000 to pay for therapy for her son if the charges were dropped.
On April 24, three days before the case was set for trial, the boy was expelled from his school. When the mother protested, she said, the principal threatened to report her for child abuse.
Prosecutors, against the wishes of the boy’s parents, settled the case on April 27. Mr. Gelbman was given three years’ probation after pleading guilty to endangering the welfare of a child.
Mr. Jungreis, the Williamsburg father, had a similar experience. He first suspected that his son was being molested after he came home with blood in his underwear at age 12, and later was caught touching another child on the bus. But, Mr. Jungreis said, the school principal warned him to stay silent. Two years later, the boy revealed that he had been molested for years by a man he saw at a mikvah, a ritual bath that observant Jews visit for purification.
Mr. Jungreis, knowing the prohibition on calling secular authorities, asked several rabbis to help him report the abuse, but, he said, they told him they did not want to get involved. Ultimately, he found a rabbi who told him to take his son to a psychologist, who would be obligated to notify law enforcement. “That way you are not the moser,” he said the rabbi told him, using the Hebrew word for informer. The police arrested Meir Dascalowitz, then 27, who is now awaiting trial.
Prosecution of intimidation is rare. Victims and their supporters say that is because rabbinical authorities are politically powerful; prosecutors say it is because there is rarely enough evidence to build a criminal case. “The intimidation often works, at least in the short run,” said Laura Pierro, the head of the special victims unit at the Ocean County prosecutor’s office in New Jersey.
In 2010, Ms. Pierro’s agency indicted Shaul Luban for witness tampering: he had sent a threatening text message to multiple recipients, urging the Orthodox Jewish community of Lakewood, N.J., to pressure the family of an 11-year-old abuse victim not to cooperate with prosecutors. In exchange for having his record cleared, Mr. Luban agreed to spend about a year in a program for first-time offenders.
Mr. Luban and others “wanted the phone to ring off the hook to withdraw the complaint from our office,” the Ocean County prosecutor, Marlene Lynch Ford, said.
Threats to Advocates
The small cadre of ultra-Orthodox Jews who have tried to call attention to the community’s lack of support for sexual abuse victims have often been targeted with the same forms of intimidation as the victims themselves.
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg of Williamsburg, for example, has been shunned by communal authorities because he maintains a telephone number that features his impassioned lectures in Yiddish, Hebrew and English imploring victims to call 911 and accusing rabbis of silencing cases. He also shows up at court hearings and provides victims’ families with advice. His call-in line gets nearly 3,000 listeners a day.
In 2008, fliers were posted around Williamsburg denouncing him. One depicted a coiled snake, with Mr. Rosenberg’s face superimposed on its head. “Nuchem Snake Rosenberg: Leave Tainted One!” it said in Hebrew. The local Satmar Hasidic authorities banned him from their synagogues, and a wider group of 32 prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbis and religious judges signed an order, published in a community newspaper, formally ostracizing him.
“The public must beware, and stay away from him, and push him out of our camp, not speak to him, and even more, not to honor him or support him, and not allow him to set foot in any synagogue until he returns from his evil ways,” the order said in Hebrew.
“They had small children coming to my house and spitting on me and on my children and wife,” Rabbi Rosenberg, 61, said in an interview.
Rabbi Tzvi Gluck, 31, of Queens, the son of a prominent rabbi and an informal liaison to secular law enforcement, began helping victims after he met troubled teenagers at Our Place, a help center in Brooklyn, and realized that sexual abuse was often the root of their problems. It was when he began helping the teenagers report cases to the police that he also received threats.
In February, for example, he received a call asking him to urge an abuse victim to abandon a case. “A guy called me up and said: ‘Listen, I want you to know that people on the street are talking about what they can do to hurt you financially. And maybe speak to your children’s schools, to get your kids thrown out of school.’ ”
Rabbi Gluck said he had helped at least a dozen ultra-Orthodox abuse victims bring cases to the Brooklyn district attorney in recent years, and each time, he said, the victim came under heavy pressure to back down. In a case late last year that did not get to the police, a 30-year-old molested a 14-year-old boy in a Jewish ritual bath in Brooklyn, and a rabbi “made the boy apologize to the molester for seducing him,” he said.
“If a guy in our community gets diagnosed with cancer, the whole community will come running to help them,” he said. “But if someone comes out and says they were a victim of abuse, as a whole, the community looks at them and says, ‘Go jump in a lake.’ ”
Traces of Change
Awareness of child sexual abuse is increasing in the ultra-Orthodox community. Since 2008, hundreds of adult abuse survivors have told their stories, mostly anonymously, on blogs and radio call-in shows, and to victims’ advocates. Rabbi-vetted books like “Let’s Stay Safe,” aimed at teaching children what to do if they are inappropriately touched, are selling well.
The response by communal authorities, however, has been uneven.
In March, for example, Satmar Hasidic authorities in Williamsburg took what advocates said was an unprecedented step: They posted a Yiddish sign in synagogues warning adults and children to stay away from a community member who they said was molesting young men. But the sign did not urge victims to call the police: “With great pain we must, according to the request of the brilliant rabbis (may they live long and good lives), inform you that the young man,” who was named, “is, unfortunately, an injurious person and he is a great danger to our community.”
In Crown Heights, where the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement has its headquarters, there has been more significant change. In July 2011, a religious court declared that the traditional prohibition against mesirah did not apply in cases with evidence of abuse. “One is forbidden to remain silent in such situations,” said the ruling, signed by two of the court’s three judges.
Since then, five molesting cases have been brought from the neighborhood — “as many sexual abuse-related arrests and reports as there had been in the past 20 years,” said Eliyahu Federman, a lawyer who helps victims in Crown Heights, citing public information.
Mordechai Feinstein, 19, helped prompt the ruling by telling the Crown Heights religious court that he had been touched inappropriately at age 15 by Rabbi Moshe F. Keller, a Lubavitcher who ran a foundation for at-risk youth and whom Mr. Feinstein had considered his spiritual mentor.
Last week, Rabbi Keller was sentenced in Criminal Court to three years’ probation for endangering the welfare of a child. And Mr. Feinstein, who is no longer religious, is starting a campaign to encourage more abuse victims to come forward. He is working with two prominent civil rights attorneys, Norman Siegel and Herbert Teitelbaum, who are asking lawyers to provide free assistance to abuse victims frustrated by their dealings with prosecutors.
“The community is a garden; there are a lot of beautiful things about it,” Mr. Feinstein said. “We just have to help them weed out the garden and take out the things that don’t belong there.”
Friday: The Brooklyn district attorney is criticized for his handling of ultra-Orthodox Jewish child sex-abuse cases.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: May 11, 2012
A previous version of this article misspelled the surname of the executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America as Zweibel.


Man pleads guilty to molesting Hasidic teen in ritual bath 

Meir Dascalowitz, 29, will get five years in prison after pleading guilty to having sex with the boy, who is now 17. He'll also have to register as a sex offender upon his release.
By Oren Yaniv
New York Daily News - April 18, 2013

A Brooklyn father who's been ostracized from his Hasidic community because he reported his son's sexual abuse claimed victory Thursday after the man who violated the teenage boy pleaded guilty.

"Justice was done," said the father, Mordechai Jungreis. "I'm happy to show the community that the game is over — if you do the crime, you need to do the time."

Meir Dascalowitz, 29, will get five years in prison after pleading guilty to having sex with the boy, who is now 17. He'll also have to register as a sex offender upon his release.

The admitted perv was arrested in May 2010 for the abuse, which took place in a ritual bath, and his case slogged slowly through psych exams and other delays.

"After schlepping for three years, thank God he took a plea," Jungreis said following the hearing in Brooklyn Supreme Court. "It hurts what happened to my child."

The dad described enormous pressure from his insular ultra-Orthodox community: He was kicked out of his apartment, his kids were expelled from private school, and the family was shunned, all because he filed a police report on a fellow Jew.

"What we went through is unbelievable… the torture," he said. "But I didn't give up."

Jungreis, 38, had spoken out about his struggles before, becoming one of a handful of victims' kin to stand up against what prosecutors called systemic harassment of those who lodge complaints without pre-approval from rabbis.

Defense attorney Israel Fried said it was time to bring the case to an end.
"It will bring closure to the family, we hope," he said.

Jungreis said "it would have been very hard" for his son, who's disabled, to take the stand.

Victim advocate Mark Meyer Appel, who runs an organization called Voice of justice, said he's pleased with the outcome.

"I'm happy that the boy who went through hell over the past three years was spared the agony of testifying in a court of law," he said.


Man who molested boy in Jewish bath house gets five years — and an earful from the victim whose life he ‘ruined’ Now-17-year-old victim pens gripping letter about the abuse. Says Meir Dascalowitz cannot be forgiven.
By Oren Yaniv
New York Daily News - May 1, 2013

A man who sexually assaulted a Brooklyn boy in a Jewish bath house was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday after hearing his unforgiving victim blame him for ruining his life.

Meir Dascalowitz, 29, had pleaded guilty to abusing the boy beginning when he was 12 and continuing for about a year. But before his sentencing, he got a chance to hear the impact of his repulsive acts.

"I will never forgive to you for the things you did to me," the now 17-year-old boy wrote in a letter read in Brooklyn Supreme Court. "You ruined my life."

"I have been hurt and this hurt will continue throughout my life," the victim continued, revealing that he had been kicked out of school and lost friends after reporting the abuse to authorities.

Airing such dirty laundry is frowned upon by many members of the insular, ultra-Orthodox community. In rare cases when victims come forward — as in last year’s trial of Hasidic counselor Nechemya Weberman — the victims are often subjected to the trauma of intense grilling on the witness stand and shunning by their neighbors.

Prosecutor Kevin O'Donnell said his office agreed to Descalowitz’ plea deal "so the victim won't have to see his abuser again and will avoid the ordeal and the trauma of testifying."

Still, Dascalowitz will likely be back on the street in about two and a half years, owing to credit for time served. He said nothing at the sentencing — but his victim’s mother filled the silence with anger.

"What this monster of an animal did to our precious diamond is unforgivable," she said. "How many children's life will be ruined?"

Advocates in the Hasidic community said they were satisfied the case ended without forcing the victim to relive his suffering in a trial, as Weberman’s victim did.

That said, the young woman in that case is "especially happy today" because she hopes her case would convince accused pervs to cop out to the charges against them, her husband Boorey Deutsch said.


Meir Dascalowitz, who pleaded guilty to molesting 15-year-old boy in Williamsburg, heads to prison
Brooklyn News 12 - May 2, 2013

Prosecutors say that in 2010, the Orthodox man repeatedly molested a 15-year-old boy at a ritual bath in Williamsburg.

BROOKLYN - Meir Dascalowitz, who pleaded guilty to molesting a 15-year-old boy in Williamsburg, is heading to prison for five years.

Prosecutors say that in 2010, the Orthodox man repeatedly molested the boy at a ritual bath in Williamsburg.

Dascalowitz initially faced 32 counts of felony and misdemeanor sex abuse charges, but pleaded guilty last month to just one count of criminal sexual act in the second degree.


Orthodox families in NYC and Rockland shunned for reporting sexual abuse
BY Michael Ricoda
Rockland County Times - July 11, 2013

Brooklyn – Child sexual abuse is an unfortunate and tragic occurrence in any community, but adding insult to injury by purposely ostracizing a child’s family almost seems too cruel to comprehend.

Still, for reporting sexual abuse of children, Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish families, also known as Haredi or ritually observant, often report strong ostracism from their community members up to and including exclusion from housing and having children booted from private schools.

“There is no nice way of saying it: Our community protects molesters,” Pearl Engelman, whose son reported he was fondled by a United Talmudical Academy teacher in Williamsburg, explained to the New York Times. “Other than that, we are wonderful.”

Such communities often prefer to handle problems internally through rabbinic authorities. 
According to the interpretation of a rule called “mesirah,” many rabbis believe Jews informing on other Jews to secular authorities without rabbinical permission is forbidden under Jewish law.

“The work we do is perceived by the rabbinic leadership as a direct challenge to their authority and control over the community and they react accordingly,” Survivors for Justice President Ben Hirsch explained.

In total, of the last 51 cases that have impacted the Brooklyn community, nine ended with victim dropping out primarily due to societal pressure. All others ended with plea deals, often the perp getting less punishment than prosecutors would normally seek.

The most recent case was that of the Jungreis family of Brooklyn, whose teenage son was abused by Meir Dascalowitz, 29. Dascalowitz pled guilty to sexual abuse in April and received five years in prison and ten of probation.

The boy’s father, Mordecai Jungreis, explained to the New York Times that on the advice of a rabbi, the family reported the crime to a psychologist. Other rabbis they consulted prior to the last were reportedly unhelpful. In response, the family was scorned by their community, intimidated with the hope they would drop their case against Dascalowitz and even kicked out of their apartment.

The issue allegedly reaches into legal responses as well. Blogger and victims’ rights activist Yerachmiel Lopin explained no indication was given that Dascalowitz’s video confession was disqualified from evidence and the DA’s office was merely playing politics by failing to pursue a harsher sentence.

“So, while it is always good to have a serial rapist convicted, I am not yet convinced this case was handled nearly as well as it could have been by a DA who was less beholden to Hasidic power brokers,” Lopin explained.

Recently in Rockland, Dovid Kohn, 60 of Monsey, was sentenced to eight years in prison in June 2013 for abusing one of his daughter’s female friends. If she had testified, Kohn could have faced 25 years on 35 charges.

Local victims right and pro-decency activist Rabbi Noson Leiter lauded the case as progress. “Sometimes, a strong victim can actually force a plea with incarceration,” Leiter said.

In another instance of local sex abuse, Shmuel M. Dym, 31 of Monsey, pled guilty to molesting two brothers age seven and nine in June 2012 and was sentenced to 10 years probation. District Attorney Thomas Zugibe explained Dym could have served up to eight years if not for local Haredi leaders’ pressure on the victim’s family.

“In the end, we went with the family’s wishes,” Zugibe said.

In spite of community opposition and unhelpful leaders, reporting has been advocated by a small but growing minority of Orthodox Jews, including Leiter and Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg of Brooklyn, who runs a phone line imploring victims to contact police for which he himself has been demonized by his community.

The politicians of New York, such as Governor Andrew Cuomo, do business with powerful rabbis who control blocs of votes and money even if they systematically cover up sex abuse. Rabbi Rosenberg and Rabbi Leiter who stick up for children tend to get no political support. In Leiter’s case, he’s been the subject of political attacks.



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