Orthodox abuse victims ostracised: Inquiry

Perth Now
November 29, 2016

Victims of child sex abuse and their families were outcast from their Orthodox Jewish communities for reporting the attacks, a royal commission has found.

Leaders of the Yeshivah Melbourne and Yeshiva Bondi failed to act on reports of abuse and Jewish law, or halachic, strongly influenced the response and treatment of survivors, the Child Abuse Royal Commission says in its latest report.

Complaints were made to the head of Melbourne's Yeshivah Centre and the Yeshivah College rabbi Yitchok David Groner about convicted paedophile David Cyprys from the mid-1980s and rabbi David Kramer from the early-1990s.

"The evidence before us establishes that Rabbi Groner's response to reported incidents of child sexual abuse was wholly inadequate," the royal commission's report, released on Tuesday, says.

"The nature and frequency of reports to Rabbi Groner strongly suggest a pattern of total inaction."

Rabbi Groner died in 2008.

At Yeshiva Bondi, complaints were made against two men.

A woman who was 12 when she says she was abused in 1989 recalled being told by a rabbi: "I do not believe you. Why would you invent such a story?"

Victims and their families reported being ostracised from their community for making the complaints to Jewish leadership and the police.

The royal commission was told a Jewish law, known as mesirah, forbids a Jew from reporting other Jews to a secular authority.

Gossiping or speaking negatively of another Jew, Jewish institution or place, is also discouraged.

The Rabbinical Council of Victoria issued a resolution in 2010 declaring mesirah did not apply to child sexual abuse and that it was an obligation of Jewish law to report such abuse.

The royal commission was told Yeshivah Melbourne has taken significant steps to implement child protection measures, but the evidence of Yeshiva Bondi doing the same is "unclear."

Victim Manny Waks said the royal commission's report confirmed the "abhorrent, hypocritical and irreligious way" the Yeshivah Melbourne community responded to victims and their families.

"It is particularly telling that on all contentious issues, the commission preferred the evidence given by victims to that of the Yeshivah leadership," he said in a statement.

Mr Waks again called for unequivocal personal apologies to he and his family from Yeshivah and punitive action against its leadership.


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