Thursday, August 12, 2010

INTERNATIONAL CALL TO ACTION: Regarding Israeli Judge, Moshe Gilad decision in case of Incest

July 12, 2010

Brother of Incest Survivor Sent To Prison By Israeli Judge, Moshe Gilad

It appears that Israeli Judge,  Moshe Gilad is unfamiliar Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the ramifications childhood physical and sexual abuse can have on non-offending family members.  The Awareness Center along with other advocacy groups find it outrageous that a judge would send a young man who was attempting to protect his sister from any more sexual assaults to prison, instead of court ordered therapy with someone who specializes in PTSD.   

According to an article published by Ha'aretz (see below), upon arresting the teenage brother, the police also arrested the alleged sex offending step-father on suspension of a sex crime, yet released him two days later with the understanding he was not to go into the family home for two weeks.  The article also describes the young man as a victim of long term physical abuse by his sister's alleged sex offender.

Like in many other cases of incest, the mother doubted her daughters accusations.  The girl's mental health status declined, leading her to be hospitalized.

The article quoted Judge Gilad as saying: "I imagine that after he described himself and his sister being 'abused' physically and verbally for years, that when his sister described to him how the complainant had sexually assaulted her, the accused must have felt horrible," Judge Moshe Gilad wrote in his verdict. "I am ready to believe that when the accused saw his sister feeling so vulnerable, and heard her tell of such horrible things, he was frustrated and enraged."
But he added: "We cannot allow the court to send a message that someone who stabs another in anger, rage, revenge, no matter what the reason, will not be put under lock and key."
Though the young man stabbed his stepfather while sleeping, it is obvious to anyone who understands the dynamics of child abuse, that this was an delayed act of self defense and not one of "revenge and rage".  
Please demand that Judge Moshe Gilad reconsider his sentence of a young man who needs specialized care to help him overcome his childhood trauma, and also demand that his sister receive rape trauma counseling immediately and that her step-father be court ordered out of the home indefinitely.

Contact Information:
Judge Moshe Gilad
Haifa District Court
12 Palyam Street
Haifa, Israel  33095

Fax from the United States to Israel: 011-972-4-869-8644
Fax in Israel:  04-8698644

Background information on Judge Moshe Gilad
Born in 192 in Romania
In 1961 he immigrated to Israel
In 1970-1976 he served in the IDF
In 1980 graduated LLB degree at University of Tel-Aviv.
In October 1981 he qualified as a Din (Judge).
In 1981-2008 he worked as an editor - an independent lawyer
In February 2008 he was appointed to serve as a judge in Haifa District Court

Teen who stabbed 'rapist' stepfather jailed for 12 years
A Haifa District Court sentences an 18-year-old from northern Israel to 12 years in jail for stabbing his stepfather, who allegedly raped the man's younger sister.

By Fadi Eyadat

Haaretz - August 11,  2010

A Haifa District Court sentenced an 18-year-old from northern Israel to 12 years in jail yesterday for stabbing his stepfather, who allegedly raped the man's younger sister.
The court stated that the youth, who played an important role in his sister's life, was enraged after the girl told him of the rape. In delivering the verdict, the judge said: "Arguments must be settled by a court of law, not by the knife."
In January the teenager, who was still a high school student, was told by his younger sister that their stepfather had raped her two days previously and had sexually assaulted her several times in the past.
The teenager asked his sister to leave the house, armed himself with two kitchen knives, and stabbed his stepfather while he slept. The older man was taken to hospital but released soon afterwards.
Following the stepson's arrest, the stepfather was arrested on suspicion of sex crimes, but was released under conditions that included a restraining order banning him from the home for two weeks.
During the trial it emerged that the children's mother doubted her daughter's story. The girl's mental health deteriorated following the attack and she was eventually institutionalized.
"I imagine that after he described himself and his sister being 'abused' physically and verbally for years, that when his sister described to him how the complainant had sexually assaulted her, the accused must have felt horrible," Judge Moshe Gilad wrote in his verdict. "I am ready to believe that when the accused saw his sister feeling so vulnerable, and heard her tell of such horrible things, he was frustrated and enraged."
But he added: "We cannot allow the court to send a message that someone who stabs another in anger, rage, revenge, no matter what the reason, will not be put under lock and key."

Friday, August 06, 2010

Where in the US is Rabbi Shimshon Walzer Hiding Out?

It is the responsibility of every human being on this earth to protect our children from becoming the next victim of a sex crime.  According to the following article Rabbi Shimshon Walzer fled Israel to avoid prosecution.  He is currently residing some place in the US.  If you or someone you know was sexually abused/assaulted by Rabbi Shimshon Walzer please contact your local rape crisis center, local police dept. and or the FBI.

If anyone has a photograph of Rabbi Shimshon Walzer please forward it to The Awareness Center, Inc.


A victim in every home

Six years after the abuse apparently ended, residents of a Haredi moshav have finally begun to testify about the alleged sexual attacks of two male residents on the community's children. Those who complain are being shunned.

By Tamar RotemHaaretz - August 8, 2010 State Prosecutor's Office decided recently not to request an extradition order from the U.S. against Walzer - in part due to the fact that some of the offenses are no longer prosecutable, under the statute of limitations. During the course of the investigation, conducted by the central unit of the Lachish police force, testimony was taken from dozens of victims as well as from moshav officials, including the community's rabbi, the Talmud Torah principal and members of the locale's governing council. Most of the witnesses denied that the two had committed sexual abuse.Walzer, however, has not been indicted, since in April he flew to the United States to raise money for the moshav's Talmud Torah (elementary school ) and synagogue. Apparently, when he realized the noose was tightening around him, he preferred not to return to Israel and even missed his son's wedding in Bnei Brak on May 26.
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."