Sydney Yeshiva and the Police

February 20, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Sydney Yeshiva has responded to a Fairfax report that a man being investigated by police over alleged sexual assulats on boys at the institution’s school claimed that senior rabbis were aware of his actions…but did not act on them.

The following statement has been issued by the Sydney Yeshiva.

Rabbi Pinchus Feldman

Rabbi Pinchus Feldman

“Following media reports of a police investigation into allegations from decades ago involving alleged child abuse in our community, we immediately contacted the police to offer our assistance and to ensure continued community safety. We are committed to fully cooperate with the police in  this matter and encourage community members to do the same.

Yeshiva is most concerned to fulfil our duty of care to children under our responsibility and are very careful to follow all Australian laws relating to child safety. There are strong child protection policies in place.

This morning there was a media report that an anonymous individual currently under criminal investigation  has alleged to have over a quarter of a century ago privately confessed child sex abuse crimes to Rabbi Feldman. Rabbi Feldman does not have any recollection of such a confession.

In response to these matters, Rabbi Feldman has said the following:

“To make my position absolutely clear, I endorse the unequivocal Rabbinical rulings encouraging victims of abuse to report to the police and I will continue to support the efforts of law enforcement agencies in investigating and taking action against these heinous crimes.”

Fairfax had published they understood there were two men who are alleged to have sexually abused Yeshiva children in the 1970s and 80s in their homes and ata camp.

Following the publication of the Fairfax story, Manny Waks, founder of sexual abuse advocacy group Tzedek, said: “This new revelation confirming the ongoing allegations that the Yeshiva Centre leadership in Sydney was aware of the child sexual abuse allegations puts the onus on this institution to provide a full and honest account of what has transpired there over the years.

Besides the Fairfax report, it has now also been confirmed to me personally that Yeshiva has privately acknowledged that it was indeed aware of the abuse allegations. Also, someone else has come forward to me with information alleging that the Yeshiva leadership responded to an alleged incident of child sexual abuse by apparently sending the perpetrator overseas. Based on today’s report and the new information, it now seems that the initial Yeshiva statement was somewhat disingenuous.

I would like to emphasise that since the initial Yeshiva statement, I have been working closely with a Yeshiva representative in addressing this issue. Throughout this process I made it clear to them that they must be forthright and transparent regarding any information that they have, including in relation to any cover-ups. I was personally assured that they were unaware of any of these allegations. Having just spoken to a Yeshiva representative, this point has been reiterated; Yeshiva continues to strenuously deny the allegations that they were aware of or involved in covering up allegations of child sexual abuse.

To Yeshiva’s credit, their initial statement was unequivocal in terms of a way forward. Ultimately it’s actions that speak louder than words. While their past actions are now (rightly) being scrutinised, their current actions seem to be appropriate in terms of their cooperation with the police.

I am aware of a number of Sydney victims who are still reluctant to provide a statement to the police regarding their abuse. It is incumbent upon Yeshiva to demonstrate that it is being completely honest and forthright so that victims will feel that it is safe and appropriate for them to go to the police.

Tzedek urges anyone with information relevant to this matter to come forward. It is critical that we understand the truth of the matter – both the abuse and any subsequent cover-ups. Tzedek calls for a thorough and fair investigation of this matter by the police. We expect that the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse will also address this issue and will hopefully uncover further information.

Ultimately justice must prevail and the truth must come out. Perpetrators and their enablers, including anyone involved in any cover-up, must be held to full account. ”

Comments

2 Responses to “Sydney Yeshiva and the Police”
  1. Michelle says:

    I smell a Rat here, someone is out to destroy the best organization for Jewish people, are they Jewish who are doing this I’m sure they not, why don’t they say all the good deeds yeshiva doze for poor, sick, elderly and addicted, I don’t know any Jewish org that is doing so much for free!! as for accusing Rabbi and Rebecin Feldman of not informing police, shame on this person!! who ever is this he/she is a layer!! I’m not religious person as a matter of fact a totally secular but I will not allow to dirty the names of such honorable and devoted to good cause people as the Feldmans, I have known the family for 40 years. Michelle Wayne

    • Shirlee says:

      Michelle

      Nothing would surprise me from what I am reading around the Jewish Blogosphere.
      Lot of talk from a certain individual about Penina Feldman. Can’t say more.

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