Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse : Day 7

February 10, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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Witness ABV returned to Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Abuse today.

Royal-Commission290He spoke of his horrified reaction when attending a Yeshiva Bondi  function where he noticed Daniel Hayman had been named on the official program as an event sponsor. This was after Hayman had been charged with child sexual abuse.

“It appeared that the rabbis had rallied about him as being the so-called victim in this process” said ABV.

After Hayman was convicted, AVB was never contacted by anyone connected with Yeshiva or offered any form of support.

Witness ABV stressed that he had always tried to behave in a dignified and respectful manner. He spoke of his vain attempts to get reactions from the rabbis in his community about how he and his wife had been treated after Daniel Hayman had been charged with child sexual offences.

He spoke of the previous day’s testimony from Rabbi Yosef Feldman regarding the time when sentencing was about to be handed down on Daniel Hayman.  Prayers were said by Chabad (Yeshiva) for Daniel Hayman to stay out of prison showed that the culture of Chabad had not changed, even as recently as 2014.

Counsel assisting the Commission, Maria Gerace, asked him if he had been looking for support within his faith and community for recognition that a heinous and repugnant crime had been committed, both in secular law and within the precepts of Jewish law.

He agreed.  She asked if he had wanted his community to embrace and support him through the process of going to police about his abuse and through the court process.

Witness ABV said that a resolution process would have helped him and it was always his wish to resolve matters within the community and within halacha.

He does not believe that attitudes have really changed within the ultra orthodox community regarding those who came forward to report child sexual abuse but does hope that over time things will change.

Ms Gerace explored the idea that those seeking accountability for lack of action meant victims were treated as having themselves committed a sin.

Witness ABV explained the concept of lashen harra, which is translated as “negative true words”.  This means that while saying Daniel Hayman is a convicted pedophile is a true statement, within the Yeshiva/Chabad community, these are considered “negative words” that would bring great shame to that individual and therefore should not be repeated.

Negative truthful speech should not be spoken and ABV believes this attitude is something that should be confronted.

After a discussion of various email sent to the Yeshiva community which had urged people to come forward if they have suffered child sexual abuse, ABV made the comment that these were

“No more than a coat of paint on a rotten building.”

“We have to focus on actions, not on the words.”

He told the Commission that when he attended synagogue last Shabbat (07/02/15) Rabbis Avraham Glick and Rabbi Yosef Feldman were called up (given the honour of an aliyah) during the Torah portion reading.

When asked “How did that make you feel?”

“It was more of the same” replied ABV.

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