Defence lawyer under fire

November 10, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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Experienced Melbourne criminal defence lawyer, Alex Lewenberg, is under investigation by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) into comments he made to a victim of child sexual abuse according to a report in The Herald Sun.

Alex Lewenberg

Alex Lewenberg

The investigation is based on comments he made to a child sexual abuse victim who had helped police in their investigation of Jewish paedophile David Cyprys who Lewenberg was defending .  Cyprys was convicted and jailed in December 2013 for abuse of children in the 1980s and 1990s.

In recorded conversations, Mr Lewenberg was heard telling the victim that Jews should not help police prosecute other Jews.

“I am not exactly delighted that another Yid would assist police against an accused, no matter whatever he is accused of,” Mr Lewenberg said.

There is a tradition, if not a religious requirement, that you do not assist against (the people of Abraham).”

He would be referring to the practice of mesira.

Lewenberg is understood to have admitted making the comments, and similar comments while in court representing Cyprys, but has told the Legal Services Commissioner they must be understood in context.

The Legal Services Commissioner as applied to VCAT for orders against Lewenberg after finding it was likely he would be found guilty of professional misconduct.

Victims advocate and victim of David Cyprys, Manny Waks, has made the following statement.

“The individual concerned – a victim of the Defendant – acted entirely appropriately in drawing the court’s attention to Israel’s Law of Return which, on occasions, has been misused by criminals to escape justice in their country of residence. He is to be commended for having done so.

The concept of Mesira to which Mr. Lewenberg refers – informing against a fellow Jew to secular authorities – has been invoked against me and other victims, in Australia and elsewhere, to deter us from seeking justice against our abusers and the communal leaders who covered up our abuse.

The reality is that the concept arose in times when Jews were persecuted and would not be afforded fair treatment under the local legal system. It has no relevance today in Australia or any other western society, and has only been invoked by those concerned to avoid the attention of the legal system for different reasons.

It is difficult to understand how anybody can practice law in Australia today and hold the views expressed by Mr. Lewenberg. I hope that Mr. Lewenberg is appropriately sanctioned for his conduct and that the legal system will again send a strong message to the community that victims of child sexual abuse need to be supported and encouraged to seek justice, not intimidated and vilified for doing so” said Waks.

After being shunned and excluded from the tight-knit Yeshiva community because of his evidence against Cyprys, Waks and his family left Melbourne and now live overseas.

Comments

One Response to “Defence lawyer under fire”
  1. Serge Liberman says:

    The concept of dina de-malkhuta dina: The law of the land is the Law.

    No one is immune.

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