Melbourne Yeshivah sues insurers

July 8, 2020 by Roz Tarszisz
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Melbourne’s Yeshivah Centre is reported to be suing three insurers in the Supreme Court to recover the cost of payouts to the victims of child sexual abuse at its Centre, according to a report in The Herald Sun.

Yeshivah Centre

However, insurers have refused to reimburse the payouts, claiming the Yeshivah Centre failed to comply with its duty of disclosure under policies it held by failing to nominate potential claims.

The Yeshivah argued that it “had no reason to think that victims would sue for damages for sexual abuse in the civil courts”.

During hearings in the 2015 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Commission heard evidence that a Jewish law, known as mesirah, forbids a Jew from informing upon, or handing over another Jew to a secular authority (particularly where criminal conduct is alleged).

Under Jewish law gossiping, or speaking negatively of another Jew, Jewish institution or place, is discouraged, even if what is said is objectively true.

But a spokesperson for the Yeshivah Centre told J-Wire: “Yeshivah condemns the historic concept of Mesirah and is sorry for the harm its application may have caused victims of child sex abuse under its care. The reference to Mesirah in the court documents relates solely to a historical fact which was identified in the Royal Commission and is relevant to the commercial proceedings for recovery against the insurers. In no way does it condone Mesirah now or historically.”

The Royal Commission also received evidence that in 2010 the Rabbinical Council of Victoria had issued an advisory resolution that the prohibition of mesirah did not apply to child sexual abuse and that it was an obligation of Jewish law to report such abuse.

The law was heavily criticised by the Royal Commission which found abusers were let free to abuse because of an adherence to the Jewish law.

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