Malka Leifer, School Principal
By Patrick Hatch. September 16, 2015. The Age.
A woman has been awarded more than $1 million in damages for sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her school principal.
The landmark Supreme Court decision is one of Victoria's highest ever payouts in a child sex abuse case and sets a precedent that one legal expert said would "strike terror into the hearts" of schools embroiled in abuse scandals across the country.
"This decision will be striking terror into the hearts of a number of schools, particularly a number of the private schools that have been in the media recently and the subject of royal commission public hearings". (Lawyer Angela Sdrinis)
Assistant District Attorney Steve Moore said the Taubenfeld family members who testified that the alleged victim was never in their home seemed to be coordinating their stories to protect the accused.
Damiani said he was able to raise reasonable doubt regarding Taubenfeld's guilt.
The judge is expected to deliver his verdict next Thursday.
Similarly, Twersky’s home in New Square, New York, the exclusively Hasidic upstate enclave where he presides over his sect, has its own mikveh, or ritual bath, built exclusively for him and his sons. His followers use the communal bath.
And when Twersky feels a need to get away from the community he leads — where more than half his followers live below the poverty line — he can summon his black Cadillac XTS and instruct his chauffeur to drive to his multimillion-dollar lakeside vacation home in Nyack, New York, which also sports a private mikveh.
For outsiders, such royalty-like privilege may inspire disapproval. But for his followers, the separateness that Twersky cultivates only increases the holiness with which he is regarded. To them, he is a revered tzadik, a higher spiritual being endowed with saintly wisdom.
As Laiby, now 21, explained to me during a recent interview, “He [Taubenfeld] took me into a room, made me pull down my pants, and started touching me in inappropriate places. I couldn’t make sense of what was happening. I was 8 years old. He said, ‘Don’t tell anybody; it’s between you and me.’”
But when Laiby’s parents finally were able to haltingly explain why they had come, Twersky exclaimed in Yiddish, “Ich veis nisht, in ich gleib nisht!” (“I don’t know it, and I don’t believe it!”)
“He looked genuinely shocked [at the accusation],” recounted Avrumi Stern, Laiby’s older brother, who accompanied the parents. The family left the rebbe’s office as they had entered: sad, scared, and with no idea what to do next.
Over the next few months, the family secretly sent Laiby to therapy — secretly, because therapy comes with a stigma attached to it in ultra-Orthodox communities. But the financial cost was too much for the family to bear. Again Laiby’s mother approached the rebbe, pleading for help to pay Laiby’s therapy bills.
“He refused to pay and made her shut up about the whole thing,” Laiby’s brother said. READ MORE
In November 2013, an open letter to the Miami community was publicised. The Kol Koreh (public announcement) was signed by 18 Rabbis whose basic message was to tell the Jewish community that Rabbi Bodkins from Miami is an upstanding member of the community and has been wrongly accused of "behaviors" by wrongdoers and propaganda. The letter goes on to say that anyone who listens to these accusations is "committing a grievous sin".
Once Bodkins filed a law suit against AdKan concerning the so called wrongful accusations, AdKan, in its defense deposed the Rabbis who signed the Kol Koreh in order to understand where their information was coming from, and how they knew that Bodkins was safe to be around young boys.
The following is a small excerpt from the transcript of one of the depositions, (There will be more transcripts to follow) where the Rabbi (Freidman) clearly states that he did not sign the Kol Koreh. This leads one to believe that his signature was forged.
The alleged victims turned to Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky for help. He allegedly told one alleged victim that Bodkins can continue to teach unless there is more than one victim. Everything came to a standstill which is when the alleged victims and their families contacted AdKan saying "We have gone from Rabbi to Rabbi as well as the court system, there is nothing left for us to do except to publicize the allegations, in the hopes of ensuring the safety of other children". After much investigation as well as a statement from Ronnie Greenwald who told AdKan that he had personally communicated with 3 alleged victims and believed their stories to be true, AdKan posted Yisroel Bodkins on the wall of shame.
At the start of October 2013, Bodkins together with his supporters claimed that Torah Umesorah backed him one hundred percent. On the opposing side however one of the victims families spoke to Rabbi Ryback from TU who told them that Bodkins has been added to the Torah Umesorah sex offender registry.
Bodkins and his supporters vehemently denied this claim, saying that AdKan was publishing lies. It was at that time that AdKan contacted Rabbi Ryback who told us that Bodkins is NOT on the registry and in fact the only people allowed access to this sex offender registry are school principals who want background information on a prospective employee.
Parents who want to find information about an alleged sex offender do not have access to the TU sex offender registry.
AdKan has been led to believe that since its inception many years ago, TU sex offender registry has but a handful of names registered as offenders. We have to wonder why the names of countless infamous molesters have not been added to the registry.
On October 21, 2013, AdKan received the following Email from the Torah Umesorah National Headquarters.
The Meisel's guidelines (see below) was prepared by the Chicago Beis Din and signed by its judges. The conditions were signed on May 17th, 2014. According to Yerachmiel Lopin, Meisels did not sign this agreement and the conditions do not bar him from continuing to earn money from the seminaries. READ MORE
By JACK BOUBOUSHIAN Courthouse News Service Wednesday, August 06, 2014
CHICAGO (CN) - A rabbi in charge of four Orthodox seminaries in Israel sexually assaulted girls in his charge, and threatened to ruin their marriage prospects if they reported him, the girls' parents claim in a federal class action.
Gary Miller and six other named plaintiffs sued Elimelech Meisels, Rachel Slanger, Peninim of America, Yaakov Yarmish, Tzvi Gartner and four subsidiary Jewish seminaries in Jerusalem,on Monday in Federal Court.
"From approximately 2004 until the present date, defendant Elimelech Meisels engaged in a fraudulent and unlawful scheme to induce Orthodox Jewish parents from across the United States to send their daughters to various seminaries in Israel that he controlled under the guise of educational and spiritual development," the complaint states.
"In truth, defendant Meisels' true aim was to fraudulently and unlawfully take thousands of dollars from each of these parents and to induce these girls, by telephone, mail, wire and other means, to travel thousands of miles outside the United States and away from their parents for the purpose of sexually assaulting these vulnerable young girls." READ MORE
The Chicago BD maintains that senior members of the schools' administrations knew for a long time about Meisels abusing girls and kept quiet allowing it to continue. They have strongly discouraged parents from sending their daughters to these schools, because they can not in good conscience trust the schools with the safety of Jewish girls. The Israeli BD has publicly disagreed saying that they interviewed staff and administration and believe with Meisels gone, the schools are now safe.Rabbi Ahron Feldman, a member of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of Agudas Yisroel, has written a letter to the Israel Beis Din attempting to negotiate a deal in the hope that the Chicago Beis Din could be persuaded to rescind its letter of warning to parents.
In order to put the attitude of the Israeli Beis Din as well as Feldman into context, Adkan would like to point out some information about some of these rabbis, and their history of inolvement in cases of the covering up of child sexual abuse, and protecting abusers and not children:
More importantly Feldman refused the requests of the victims to confront the problem by at the very least warning students and their parents of the danger Eisemann presents to them. Shockingly, although Eisemann has officially "retired," he continues to be a presence in the Yeshiva and is currently still living on campus today. Because the Rosh Yeshiva continues to protect his colleague's reputation the students and their families have never been notified that a serial sex offender is living in their midst.
Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz, the most outspoken member of the Israeli BD, is a rabbinical leader in Ramat Bet Shemesh. There have been numerous allegations that the Charedi rabbis there have covered up many alleged and known molesters, and applied massive pressure on the parents of child victims to keep quiet. This was documented in a Jerusalem Post article in 2009, and is well known to residents of RBS. Although the article does not name Malinowitz specifically, there was much public debate in which Malinowitz clearly expressed his opinion that cases of abuse should not be reported to the police or to child protective services. He even went as far as outlawing solicitation for a tzedaka organization called L'maan Achai, solely because its director, David Morris, had publicly fought for the right and responsibility of parent's to report sex crimes in order to protect their children.
Adkan speaks for Jewish parents everywhere who are refreshed and encouraged by the fact that for the first time in history there are some courageous rabbis who are holding accountable not only an abuser, but also the institutions that harbored him. Publicizing the problem widely vindicated Adkan's mission to warn parents, and we hope that the day will soon come when it will be standard practice among all rabbis to do what the Chicago BD is doing here: Protect children even at the expense of institutions who are negligent in doing so.
We would like to see victims of abuse in other institutions that are unsafe such as Ner Yisroel and the schools in Ramat Bet Shemesh be invited to tell their stories to the Chicago Bet Din, which is the only one of its kind who's purpose is to rule about cases of sexual abuse. There are certainly some Chicagoans that live in Ramat Bet Shemesh, and that attend Ner Yisroel so the BD would ave jurisidicion to decide what to tell their own community about the safety of these institutions for Jewish boys and girls.
We want to encourage Rabbis Cohen, Schwartz and Feurst, that their actions are commended and bring honor to the Torah among the entire Jewish nation, who stand with them.
Last week a well known educator and owner of a number of American girls seminaries located in Israel was accused of Inappropriate sexual behavior with his students.
In the wake of these allegations there has been an ominous silence.
Where is the outrage from our leaders and Rabbis?
Where is the communication to high school parents informing them of the risk they face in sending their daughters to an institution where a sex offender got away with abusing girls for years?
Where are the news reports from religious news sites?
Where are the letters of apology from the seminaries for knowingly putting their students at risk.?
Why has law enforcement not been called in to investigate.?
Why was Meisels allowed to resign instead of being thrown out in disgrace?
Where is the support for victims ?
Why are the seminaries not reaching out to find more victims who may need help?
Why do the Meisels family still have ownership of said seminaries?
Why are the seminaries still taking tuition money for the coming year?
So many questions.
And lots of silence.