The Rabbi Says “Sorry”

June 24, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Rabbi Baruch Dov Lesches has apologised for remarks reported by Fairfax Media intimating that young sexual assault victims may have been consenting.

Rabbi Baruch Lesches

Rabbi Baruch Lesches

In a prepared statement Rabbis Lesches says: ”

I would like to apologize for statements made in a private telephone conversation that caused pain to the greater public. I deeply regret the incident.

I would like to make my position absolutely clear: Without any reservation, I endorse the rabbinical rulings encouraging victims of abuse to report to the police.

I was saddened to see an edited audio clip released by the Australian media regarding a personal phone conversation I had with an alleged victim of child abuse. I am troubled by the unprofessional conduct of the reporter who did not call me to verify the facts. Had he called me, I’m sure the information I would have provided would have produced a dramatically different article.

As I clearly told the caller in a subsequent phone conversation: I had no knowledge of the alleged charges claimed to have occurred some twenty-five years ago and discussed in the news report. In the conversation, I was discussing a separate incident where I was under the impression that both alleged parties were similar in age, twenty-one years old, a fact noted by Fairfax at the end of the audio clip. I was never informed of any allegations regarding minors prior to this call.

In retrospect I am shocked to hear of these allegations, because I often entrusted my own young children to the care of the alleged perpetrator, without hesitation. I would never have done so had I known of the allegations.

I reiterate my apology, and am firmly committed to taking every effort to eradicate child abuse in all communities. If the caller had mentioned present abuse, I would have advised him to contact the proper legal authorities.

In my present community, where I am the Rabbi, there is no reticence to contact the police. We do not hide from or cover up criminal behavior. In our schools this is a known fact, and one of the reasons we, may G-d protect us, have to date not been afflicted with the evil disease of child sexual abuse.”

Baruch Dov Lesches

The Fairfax article clearly states that Rabbi Lesches counseled a sexual abuser who had” abused a boy a decade his junior”.

The incidents happened in the 1980s when Rabbi Lesches, who currently lives in the USA, was working at the Sydney Yeshiva.

In what Fairfax claims is a legally taped conversation Rabbi Lesches alleges that some victims agreed to sexual acts.

Rabbi Eli Feldman whose father was head of the Sydney Yeshiva at the time of the alleged assaults told J-Wire: “We are very open with the police and are are working with them. Rabbi Lesches has not been a member of our staff for over ten years.”

J-Wire understands that Fairfax did not speak directly with Rabbi Lesches.

The Rabbinical Council of Victori has added its voice to the recording.

In a media release, they said: “The Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) is appalled by, and unequivocally distances itself from, comments attributed to Rabbi Boruch Lesches as reported in The Age (23 June 2013). As stated on numerous occasions, the RCV encourages the reporting of all incidents of child sexual abuse to the police.

In recent years the RCV, in conjunction with the Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence (JTAFV), has held numerous training sessions for its members and members of the Victorian Rabbinate in general; these sessions have been focussed on appropriate response to disclosures of all forms of abuse, including the reporting of child sexual abuse to the police.”

RCV President Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant said that any suggestion that the reported comments are “consistent with the approach of many senior
orthodox Jewish figures in the community” is malicious in nature and incorrect. “It is deeply regrettable and shocking that there still do exist some individuals out
there on the fringe in the religious leadership world who take positions contrary to the clearcut contemporary halachic (Jewish law) approach on the matter of child
sexual abuse.” “The RCV will continue to promote the reporting of abuse to the police and to renounce any suggestions or individuals who take a
contrary position on this matter,” said Rabbi Kluwgant.




8 Responses to “The Rabbi Says “Sorry””
  1. David says:

    Why is “sorry” in the headline in quotes? Are you suggesting it wasn’t a real apology?

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Quite to the contrary, from what I have gathered, Rabbi Lesches has NOTHIN to apologise for.
      One must look at the “material evidence ” intelligently to ralise that !!
      It is all a beat up and the usual hienas are at it in full force.

      As I said, the Rabbinical Council of Vic., this time have rushed to cause serious damage to lots of people and entities, including THEMSELVES !!!

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    Hang on a minute.
    The entire reporting sources shown here is a complete mess.
    1. Rabbi Baruch Dov Lesches states clearely that:
    – he was reffering to two ADULTS, both 21 who aparently would have had something of the intimate nature between themselves. NO CHILDREN INVOLVED !!!

    – he clearly states that he”.. was never informed of any allegations regarding minor prior to this ( sic ) call.”.
    We must clarify which “this call” he is talking about and also if , during that (this) call child abuse was mentioned and the Rabbi made any objectionable statements concerning the distinct case discussed during “the ” call about child sex abuses. We must also clarify what “subsequent” call the Rabbi is mentioning.

    From the Rabbi Lesches statement one may deduct that Rabbi Lesches would NOT have made any objectionable comments during any telephone conversation. The good Rabbi states that those who allowed the “story” to reach the media should have called him directly to hear his version of the conversation(s) that took place.
    There is a possibility that Rabbi Lesches said nothing objectionable.
    I think that, if that were the case, RCV condemnation of Rabbi Lesches is totally unacceptable, unjust.
    A statememnt in principle is one matter, accusing by implication a Rabbi of unbeccoming conduct without consulting AT THE SOURCE the facts in unacceptable, if that were the case.
    Rabbi Kluwgant must clarify what reliable information prompted him to make such serious statements about another Rabbi’s conduct.

  3. ben says:

    all rabbis are now promoting “GO TO THE POLICE”

    is this window dressing ? what did Rabbi Baruch Dov Lesches teach as rosh of the yeshivah gedolla?

  4. kush says:

    So the real story is that an “alleged victim” edited his phone call with Rabbi Lesches, then twisted and perverted the words of Rabbi Lesches to promote publicity to his campaign and to bash the entire orthodox Jewish community.

    As always the great publicity and damage is done. The cause has been served. And when the media apologizes for their “misquotes” it is a short statement which nobody bothers reading. (the same as the australian several weeks ago)


  5. Dominic says:

    As a victim of child sexual abuse it seems funny to me that most abusers are often either in a position of religious aurthority or very religious themselves, always deeply repentant and sorry for their sins but always seek absolution in some form of confession then after the act of contrition in their minds they are free to do it all over again. The sooner we all loose the crutch of all religions the better for all mankind and start taking responsability for our actions the better for our collective conscience.

    • gabrielle says:

      well said Dominic

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        Well sad, indeed, Dominic, but do us a favour, what on Earth is “collective conscience”. !!
        Define it for us ! Can it also be simlar to collective high blood pressure, collective sense of smell, collective knowledge of correct terms, collective prostate glands etc. ? Or do I have to reduce myself to your level of lack of insight into the meaning of “collective” ethical apparisals !!

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