Robert Kolker, Contributing Editor at New York Magazine Responds To Agudath Israel's Director of Public Affairs, Rabbi Avi Shafran.Rabbi Avi Shafran's article "The Evil Eleventh" published in Cross-Currents speaks volumes. As does Cross-Currents' editor's declining to publish journalist Robert Kolker's response.
Accordingly, we are distributing Mr. Kolker's letter to our readers (see below).
Robert KolkerNovember 16, 2012From: Robert KolkerTo: Editor, Cross-CurrentsDear Editor:It is depressing to see Rabbi Shafran recycling, in his essay in Cross-Currents, the same arguments he's been using for years to silence the vulnerable people in his community who might otherwise expose abusers. I am the author of the piece in New York magazine that Rabbi Shafran has apparently found so objectionable. For my part, I can only respond by saying what I said the last time he tried to villify me in print: Any society that shies away from open discussion of certain issues is a society that allows problems to fester longer - and abusers to stay in business longer. As one abuse victim told me, "Whether it's Jewish or Amish or Mennonite or Catholic or Muslim, it doesn't make a difference. I feel like this is kind of like a fungus. It grows in the dark." His greatest mistake is to argue that the fervently Orthodox community is somehow being singled out as inherently worse than others. In fact, it is the argument of this community's exceptionalism that is what has made matters worse for victims. Rabbi Shafran continues to completely (and, one can only assume by now, deliberately) ignore the cultural forces of shame and denial in his community that have kept alleged victims from going public for decades. Many people been waiting for years for him to take on the so-called shonda factor, lashon hara, shalom bayit, mesira, and chillul Hashem, all of which are invoked to keep victims from bringing their community unwelcome attention by the authorities. This is the repression that silences victims. This is the repression that enables abusers. But those issues apparently don't warrant his attention. Instead of encouraging abuse victims to go to the police, and instead of opening his community's school's to the same mandatory reporting policies as the public schools, he would rather go after New York magazine again. As I said in 2006, the last time he made this argument in a public forum, Rabbi Shafran is obviously more concerned with defending Judaism from paper tigers - illusory enemies - than he is with actually dealing with the problems of his community. I hope that someday Rabbi Shafran will understand that every time he stands up to make the case that the fervently Orthodox aren't vulnerable to abusers, he is contributing to a tragic chilling effect. How many people in his community are afraid to speak up, knowing that those in power won't even acknowledge that their community is the slightest bit vulnerable?And finally, I hope that someday he realizes that if he spent half the effort giving comfort to the abused than he does defending the powerful, his community would have a real reason to be proud of him.Yours truly,Robert KolkerNew York Magazine
________________________________________________________________________________________________In the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."
________________________________________________________________________________________________Established halacha (Jewish Law) places a pedophile in the category of rodef (an imminent threat), in part due to a recidivism rate well in excess of 50-percent. In his 2004 psak (ruling) on this issue, the late Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv writes: that one should report those who sexually abuse children directly to the police and that doing so is of benefit to society.
First posted on Frumfollies.com on March 14, 2011By Yerachmiel Lopin
Two thousand years ago, Juvenal, the satirist of the corrupt Roman legal system asked, “quis custodiet ipsos custodies?” who will watch the watchers? This question is timeless. It is not just that power corrupts; corrupt people seek power.
Nechemaya Weberman, faces multiple felony indictments for sexually assaulting a girl between the time she was twelve and fifteen. Weberman found his niche in the subterranean world of Williamsburg’s watchers, the Vaad Hatznius (Modesty Committee). Some people insist he was once a decent honest fellow. If so, he may have learned to be devious by watching the business shenanigans of his peers. I am told he worked for David Niederman’s United Jewish Organizations (UJO). He could have learned a lot about skullduggery working for him.
Weberman entered a new stage in his career when he became one of the watchers over five years ago. Yosef Duvid Kraus is considered the head of the Williamsburg Vaad. Weberman was one of its important activists. His neighbors say he is a successful businessman who voluntarily gives up his time to promote modesty. It is not clear if his business succeeded on its own or is a front for laundering his profits from the Vaad and is maintained by hired managers.
You may ask, how can promoting modesty be so profitable? Your question would betray your naivete You are imagining an old-fashioned Vaad, which finds out about sexual misconduct, warns the offender, and if that fails, escalates to harassment, public humiliations or even violence. But we have entered a bold new world in which the Vaad extorts money in the guise of helping the family of an offender protect its reputation.
According to our tradition, a “good reputation is better than precious oil” (tov shem mishemen tov). These days a good reputation greases all transactions. Reputations determine whether kids are admitted to schools or expelled. Marriage matches are made or broken on reputation. When marriages fail, reputation can affect the financial terms and custody arrangements. At every stage, reputation matters.
Here is how the new scam works. One guy from the Vaad shows up and says to Mr. or Mrs. Ploni Almoni, “We are sorry to have to tell you, your teenager was hanging out with the wrong element on the edges of Williamsburg. Her school found out, and they will expel her.” The “wrong element” might be one of the cliques of rogue Hasidic teenagers who gather in coed groups and talk to each other. Sometimes a little more happens, and in rare cases, a lot more.
Now the parents are in panic. They can see their daughter’s reputation and marriage prospects falling over the cliff and dragging down the family with them. The parents simmer in anxiety while they wait for the next blow. But, as we say, “the remedy exists before the affliction.” During a follow-up visit the Vaad suggests therapy. “Simple, send your daughter to a therapist, the school will hold off on expulsion, and she will be straightened out.”
However, they are not talking about a licensed professional but a “Torah therapist”selected by the Vaad. The fee is around $250 for a one hour session, there are 1-2 sessions a week, and the therapy lasts for 10-20 weeks or more. There is no insurance coverage and fees are not negotiable. Nevertheless, desperate parents cough up the money. The bite depends on the Vaad’s mood and their estimates of the vulnerability and financial situation of the family. I have heard figures in the range of $10,000 to $30,000. A good name is precious It is also very expensive when you buy it from the Vaad.
Variants of this scam can be deployed against anyone, boy, girl, adult philanderer, etc. Other variants of this scam are applied to couples in marital and custody disputes. Sometimes it involves services other than therapy. The common denominator to all these scams is a threat to reputation followed by financial extortion disguised as the purchase of services.
Weberman was definitely involved in such scams, sometimes by making referrals to another Torah therapist and sometimes by taking money from both sides in a martial dispute. I am not sure what his role was in the case involving the girl he allegedly raped. He may have been the Torah therapist. He may have been the go between who brokered the relationship and transported the girl to her sessions. It is widely known in the abuse advocacy community that Yaakov Yagen, a Torah therapist, also used the office on Classon Avenue here Weberman allegedly assaulted this girl. Yagen, who started in the therapy business with Weberman later set up an office in Monsey, NY, where he saw people referred by Weberman and others.
There is a lot of tension between the brothers Zalman Leib (headquartered in Williamsburg) and Aaron (based in Kiryas Joel) each of whom claims to be the only true Satmar Rebbe. The competing factions regularly sabatoge each other and sometimes come to blows. However, Weberman’s Zaali aligned Vaad and the KJ Aaroni Vaad when it comes to the bite.
Let’s return to Juvenal’s question, quis custodiet ipsos custodies, who will watch the watchers? Jew’s asked the same question about negius (conflicts of interest) during the Roman Era. When it came to sexual propriety, Jews concluded aiyn apitropos l’aroyos, (you cannot be your own guardian). Men are not supposed to be alone behind locked doors with unrelated females who have reached puberty, even if all parties involved are considered upright and G-d fearing. Williamsburg’s hasidic community has gone far beyond the requirements of Jewish law in restricting interactions between the sexes. It is a thoroughly sexually segregated community.
When all the details become known, I believe. this will be much more than a story of sex abuse. It will be the sad story of a community that has descended into hypocrisy, corruption and tyranny, all in the name of torah and tznius.
- How then did a member of a Vaad Hatznius end up alone with a twelve-year-old girl?
- Why wasn’t a female therapist seeing this teen girl?
- Why isn’t the Vaad HaTznius chastising Weberman for violating their norms even if they believe he is innocent of the criminal charges?
By Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman
From the issue of March 12, 2010/ 26 Adar 5770
In 1893, Edvard Munch a Norwegian painter, created the iconic painting The Scream. It has been seen by millions of people and elicited much praise and emotion. Who is the person in The Scream and what is he screaming about?
Obviously, the greatness and the appeal of the painting is that it says something to everyone. Everyone in their own way is able to have The Scream speak to them on their level and in their personal emotional state.
Who is pictured in The Scream, according to me? Who is this unidentified individual whose impassioned scream is still being heard all over the world, according to Rabbi Eisenman?
Welcome to my world and to a lesson in art appreciation by an Orthodox rabbi.
Edvard Munch, 1893
The Daf Yomi is now learning Masechta Sanhedrin. I cannot properly describe in words the wonderful merit Hashem has blessed me with. Early every morning I have the incomparable zechus to learn a dafGemara together with a group of committed men. Sanhedrin is especially fascinating as it deals with the laws of government, the kingdom, and various kings of the Jewish people.
Last Friday, March 5, the entire Daf Yomilearned Sanhedrin, daf 21. Toward the end of the first amud, the Gemara discusses a very unfortunate incident of molestation and abuse that occurred in King David’s very own palace!
Let us take a look at the verses, exactly as they appear in our Holy Tanach, in the book ofShmuel 2 (13:6-13).
“6. And Amnon lay down and feigned sickness; and the king (David) came to see him, and Amnon said to the king, ‘Let my sister Tamar come now, and make two dumplings before my eyes; that I may eat from her hand.’”
“7. And David sent home to Tamar saying, ‘Go now to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare the food for him. 8. And Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house and he was lying down. And she took the dough, and kneaded it, and she prepared the dumplings before his eyes, and she cooked the dumplings.”
“9. And she took the pan and poured [them out] before him: but he refused to eat. AndAmnon said, ‘Take everyone out from me.’ And everyone went out from him. 10. AndAmnon said to Tamar, ‘Bring the food into the chamber that I may eat from your hand.’ And Tamar took the dumplings that she had made and brought them to Amnon her brother into the chamber. 11. And she brought them near to him to eat and he took hold of her and said to her, ‘Come lay with me, my sister.’”
“12. And she said to him, ‘No, my brother, do not force me, for it is not done so in Israel; do not do this wanton deed. 13. And I, where shall I lead my shame? And [as for] you, you shall be like one of the profligate men in Israel. And now I beg of you to speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.’ 14. But he would not heed her and he overpowered her, and forced her, and lay with her.”
This incident is certainly not one that brought pride or honor to King David and the Jewish people; however, the Torah tells it as it was and it is for us to learn the lessons.
The verses themselves are powerful enough to tell of the dangers of molestation; however, I would like to focus on the next few verses — the focal point of the Gemara’s discussion.
How did Tamar react to her molestation? How did she react to her abuse and to her abuser? Let’s read further in the chapter:
“18. Now she had on a striped tunic, for in this manner the king’s virgin daughters dressed, in robes. And his servant brought her outside, and locked the door after her. 19. And Tamar put ashes on her head, and she went about, crying aloud as she went.
What did Tamar do? Did she “cover up”hershame? Did she attempt to deal with the issue (as one so-called ‘prominent’ person once told me that these things have to be dealt with)shtiller hait — in silence and privately?
No! Tamar went out publicly, as the Holy Torah says: and she went about, crying aloud as she went! She made a public display of her abuse and of her molestation. She could not cover it up! She did not deal with it privately and in the secretive chamber of a rabbinic refectory.
No, Tamar went public and screamed and cried until all the women of the Jewish world knew about her molestation and her abuse.
How did the rabbis of the Gemara react to her public shaming of the respected and noble son of the king? Did they publicly shame and chastise her for her chutzpah of discussing these things in the court of public opinion? Did they censure her by attempting to cover her up the incident? No, not at all! Let’s take a look at what Chazal (our teachers, whose teachings we must emulate and live by) have taught us:
“Sanhedrin 21a-b: R. Yehoshua ben Korchahtaught: ‘And Tamar put ashes on her head, and she went about, crying aloud as she went....’ — this taught a great lesson to BnosYisrael: [The Jewish women said] (As they observed her crying and screaming; Rashi) — ‘If such a great disgrace can occur even to the king’s daughter, all the more so to regular women; if it can occur even to modest women, and all the more so to immodest women!’”
The exact wording of the Gemara here is crucial to analyze. The Gemara says:
“Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korchah taught: gederGadol gadra Tamar B’oso shaha — this literally means, ‘Tamar built a great and big fence (meaning: proper precautions were instituted among the Jewish people) at that hour.’”
Rashi, our teacher and upon whose understanding of Gemara we all rely, answers a very obvious question in concise, yet revealing words: How could Tamar, a woman with no official legal authority, ‘build a fence’ (meaning legislate new precautionary practices)?
To this the Holy Rashi answers that she was able to legislate these reforms about proper conduct between men and women “through her tears and her scream.”
“Other women said, ‘if this could occur in the house of the King, certainly it can happen in ‘regular’ homes of the simple commoner’. (And the women on their own began to be more cautious and precautionary in their behavior).”
Meaning, initially, and through grass root channels, women-based on the public display of Tamar — began to be more careful and prudent about where they were and who they were with. They realized it could happen to anyone and at any time.
How did the rabbis of the time react to the new vigilant behavior on the part of the women? The rabbis were supportive, as theGemara states: “Says Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav: At that time, they decreed against seclusion.”
Meaning, Chazal understood that certain more vigilant and more cautious steps had to be instituted as far as private contact, even between members of the king’s family, and certainly in any other setting!
Friends, the Torah, Tamar, the rabbis of the Talmud, and Chazal were not afraid and or hesitant to go public if that what was needed at the time. The Torah, Tamar, the rabbis of the Talmud, Chazal, all realized that by keeping these issues under the rug and by dealing with them in a hush-hush manner — even when done by well meaning individuals — you are playing right into the hands of the molesters who thrive on the realization that their crimes will be kept quiet by the general public.
Secrecy and silence are not only ineffective; they actively support and facilitate the very behavior the perpetrator is committing! It is not only counter productive to assume the ‘hush-hush’ approach; it is most certainly the single most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the abuser.
The pedophile, especially one who resides within the Orthodox community, and especially one who is a trusted ‘chashuvamensch,’ relies heavily on the fact that he knows his actions will be covered up by the very powers who should be stopping him!
I have never met a person who was as careful and as knowledgeable about the laws ofLoshon Hora as an abuser. Indeed, part of their abusive behavior is to abuse and manipulate the laws of Loshon Hora to allow them to continue their behavior and their molestation.
Silence is not just unhelpful; silence is the ultimate collaborator and abettor to the crime of molestation!
So who is the screamer?
It is Tamar, after her abuse and her molestation. She is screaming a scream that needs to be heard and needs to be responded to. She is screaming and at present she stands alone, without any assistance. However, she is on a bridge.
She is attempting to cross the bridge. One side of the bridge is blood red; as it represents the blood and the pain of the victims. However, the other side of the bridge is brighter; it represents healing and rejuvenation.TheScream is still being screamed.
Are we listening?
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman is the rav of Congregation Ahavas Israel in Passaic, NJ.
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By: Surie Herskovics
August 20, 2012
(Surie Herskovics is a freelance writer and advocate for victims of sexual abuse within the Orthodox Jewish Community)
It is quite shocking that the knee jerk reaction of the K’lal is automatically conditioned to be appalled at accusations and feel sorry for the accused without first thinking for even a moment about the horrendous implications for the victim. Let me back up a second, that is if the accused is another member of the K’lal of course. However, if the same victim is abused, attacked or molested from a secular Jew or a non-Jew then of course they are believed immediately and there is uproar in the community. How dare they touch one of our own? How dare they violate this entire community?
Did I say shocking? Truly I meant reprehensible. It is still the same ben or bas Yisroel who was violated, humiliated, hurt, abused, used, disgraced, harassed, threatened and victimized and by turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to their pain and their truth YOU, yes ALL of YOU, their brothers and sisters, neighbors, friends, teachers, mechanchim, Rabbonim and role models who choose NOT to believe them are victimizing them all over again. You not only double their pain, you compound it over and over again on a daily basis for each and every one of you who don’t believe them and worse who support the abuser.
You who so nonchalantly make obtuse comments like “look who the accuser is….”. So why don’t we take a look at who the accusers are? But first lets take a look at who the abusers are. What do you really think an abuser looks like? Do you think an abuser walks around with a sign on them that says “Be smart, stay away from me, I am an abuser”? Do you think an abuser has a certain look about them? Do you think they LOOK like the scum of the earth that they are?
An abuser looks like……..a father, a brother, a neighbor, an uncle, a cousin, a friend, a grocer, a baker, a sofer, a plumber, a school bus driver, a rebbe, a singer, an accountant, a lawyer, a computer geek, an author, an artist, a cop, the person that sits next to you on the bus, the train or next to you in shul. It could be anyone and there is no way for you to know from the way they look, the way they speak, or the way they act in public. So just because you know the accused you can’t vouch for them in any way, shape or form. Because you are NOT with them 24/7; you are NOT their shomer, and you are not in their head. Would you have believed that the Principal of a girls’ yeshiva would be molesting his own daughters at home; not only he but his sons as well? Lets understand this and understand that this happens. It really happens even though we don’t want to believe this. It is a horrendous thing to think about and to have to believe about people. But there are countless numbers of children and adults who had gone through this in their own homes, who feared their own rooms and beds because of this.
A few years ago I spoke to a man from Williamsburg who was running for a political position. I asked him what he planned to do about the molestation issue. He looked at me curiously. Then he said, “Some of his son’s best friends were molested”. I was shocked. He said it as if it was a right of passage and an accepted form of child rearing. I of course asked, “You knew your son’s friends were molested and you did nothing?” I was shocked.
Lets understand that what happens in the outside world happens in our world too. We are all human and our people succumb to yetzer horah the same as all human beings do. We are afflicted with the same illnesses as outside our society. And just because it hurts us and it feels dirty and makes us uncomfortable we can’t just ignore it in hopes that it will go away. It doesn’t go away, it gets worse. If we really want it to go away, we have to acknowledge it, address it and work on it to make it go away.
So now lets look at the accusers, the victims. Abusers never choose victims that anyone would believe. Get it? Let me say that again, abusers/molesters choose their victims very, very carefully. They look for the most vulnerable victims. Who would you believe if they came forward? Would you believe the Rosh Yeshiva’s child? Probably, right? That’s why they would never prey on the R”Y’s children. Would you believe the children of the wealthiest man in the neighborhood? Those kids are pretty safe. Would you believe the kids from the most dysfunctional family in the neighborhood? No? Why not? Oh, you would say, the family is all mixed up, the kid is probably lying. That is the kid he befriends. That is the kid he grooms and goes after, because he knows that if the kid tells, no one will believe him. How do you feel now about not believing the child? How do you feel now about being tricked by the abuser even before he attacked the child? He was thinking about YOU first. He was thinking about how to fool YOU before even choosing the victim. His thought process was first how to FOOL THE OLAM so he can get away with it.
That is the mindset of the molester. He plans everything out. He plans about tricking all of his supporters, and he plans on molesting his victims. He doesn’t just do it happenstance. He is a phony, a pretender, a trickster and monster. But YOU think you know him, not the molester, of course not, the one he pretends to be. You all know the saying: you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can’t fool Hashem. Hashem is all seeing and all knowing. Da Lifnei Mi Atah Omed! We all stand before Hashem 24/7. HE does not take vacation, lunch breaks or coffee breaks. He sees everything. And without a doubt he does not turn away for 20 minutes while these so called “tzadikim” and “chashuva” people do their dirty crimes. HE will not forgive or forget like YOU are all so willing to do.
There is a reason why more and more victims/survivors are gaining the courage to come forward and that is only because Hashem is imbuing them with that courage. Without Hashem’s help there is no possible way that they could do it. Without their emunah and bitachon that Hashem would help them, there is no way that they would risk exposing themselves in such a fashion. What do they gain from this? Do you ask yourselves this? Why are they coming forward? To save other children from these monsters, to put them out of business and to save others from going through the nightmares and torture that they themselves went through. Could you do that? Could you be such a hero? Yes hero, because they have suffered terrible repercussions for doing what they are doing. Would you want your personal business exposed for all to see? Do you think it is an honor to walk around with a flag that proclaims I am a victim or survivor of abuse? Do you know how emotionally damaging being victimized like that is? Do you have any idea how one’s world is turned upside down by such trauma? Try to imagine just being frightened by someone breaking into your home and then magnify that a million times. Would you enjoy being controlled, abused, manipulated and threatened and being forced to keep that all to yourself with no one to turn to? Now imagine that it was your innocent young child going through that and you not even knowing. These victims/survivors are putting themselves on the line to try and save YOUR kids from it happening to them.
Personally I take tremendous offense to all the shmutz and lies that are made up to shmeer the reputation of these victim/survivors. Personally it makes me sick when people vouch for the abusers even though they don’t know them and certainly cannot vouch for them because they weren’t there when the abuse took place. Only the abuser and his victim were present and the only other witness was Hashem. Of course as each victim of the same abuser comes forward, it becomes more and more ridiculous how the K’lal finds more reasons to find fault with the logic that we must protect others from him, but finds reasons to back him and call the victims liars. The ridiculous question “were is the evidence?” The evidence is the eyewitness reports from the victims. Do you really think the molester is going to invite guests to watch what he does so there can be witnesses or leave evidence behind? Does a thief leave a thank you note at the bank he robs?
The bottom line is this. Our children are way too important to play this very dangerous and foolish game. Adults with this illness have a choice. They can get help for themselves before they go out and hurt innocent victims or they can act on their taivos and hurt others. That is their choice. Victims have no choice. They don’t choose to be victims. They don’t ask to be abused and victimized. We as a society have a choice too. WE can face the truth and support the victims in these cases and teach ALL these abusers that WE will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. This will send a clear cut message to all those with the same inclination to get help for themselves and stay away from our kids; because we will believe the kids and we will NOT protect the molester, we will remove them from society no matter who they are.
Right now the case in front of us is very clear-cut if you choose to believe the truth. It is unfolding right before our very eyes. If we choose to ask the appropriate questions then there is no doubt that the victim is telling the truth and that the accused has a lot to hide. Many violations are right out in the open beginning with Yichud. Any frum man who can violate the laws of Yichud cannot be trusted in any way, shape or form in my humble opinion. There is more than one victim stepping forward at this time. IMHO, the community is really trying to support and protect the school more than the molester and feel that they are doing so by supporting him first. It is very questionable why a girl’s yeshiva who won’t even hire male teachers in an environment where they can be supervised would send a young vulnerable girl to be counseled by an untrained, unlicensed, unsupervised “male” counselor. He was neither required to counsel her in the school nor in her home, but was permitted to do as he pleased which was at his discretion in his very “private” office without the benefit of a secretary (shomeres), or on road trips. This is right out of Monstrowitz training books. Obviously the school can and most likely will be considered an accomplice to the crimes since they forced these sessions on the child and family with the threat of expulsion. As of this time, the school has not complied with the request from the court for documents; they are at risk for contempt of court. The question remains what are they hiding and why are they not cooperating? In what way do those documents compromise them? Furthermore, in what way are they complicit in the crime?
Additionally, the latest information released by the accused’s attorney to the court is a claim that the victim is only seeking revenge for the accused “guiding” the father to make a video of an alleged inappropriate encounter the young girl had. This is another eye opener. If there were any truth to this at all, why would the accused be in possession of such a tape and not the father himself? Why in the world would the father allow him to hold on to it, and what right would he have had to hold on to such a video? If this video truly exists what has he been doing with this video since he took possession of it. Why did he hold on to it if he was no longer connected to her? This is truly the most vulgar and the most disgusting evidence of all. It truly reflects the truth of his crude inclinations and intentions. Any decent human being would have destroyed it or at least returned it to the parent when he stopped “counseling” their child, or in the best scenario suggest to the father to rent a safe deposit box and keep it off premises. But to keep it himself only proves what a menuval he truly is.
It is sad that any frum attorney would stoop this low and engage in such a chilul Hashem.
This victim and her family have suffered enough by the hands of her abuser, her former school and her community. Every person who chooses to support her in any way will be doing a tremendous chessed and mitzvah not only for her but also for themselves in the fight against this horrible machlah in our society.
Some tips for protecting your kids:
· Put labels with your cell numbers in your kids’ shoes, coats and knapsacks so they can call you in an emergency or if lost.
· Teach them if anyone claims that Mommy or Tatty sent them to pick them up to ask for their cell phone and call to verify
· After pre-school when there are no longer 3 to 4 teachers in the class, teach your boys that they are never allowed to sit on the Rebbe’s lap, if asked they are to say “my mommy doesn’t let”.
· Teach the boys to maintain 6 inches of body space. If the Rebbe pats back, or shoulders, give a handshake and say “my mommy doesn’t let”.
· Explain “good touch, bad touch” and personal space to all children.
· Explain the “buddy system” and never going off alone with anyone, ANYONE for any reason
· Adults don’t need help from children, if an adult tries to call you to their car or house keep walking away very quickly
· If kids separate from their parents accidentally teach them to go over to women with children for help
· Teach your kids if someone makes them feel uncomfortable they should stay away from them.
· If your boys go to the Mikveh use a buddy system. Never go alone, and one watches the other while they toivel and immediately hands them a towel (and of course never linger there).
· And the most important rule is NEVER, EVER KEEP SECRETS FROM MOMMY!
· All rules apply for camp and school, for home and away. As far as camp is concerned. If anything happens at camp, tell your kids to go to the camp nurse, she is a mandatory reporter.
Leiby Kletzky A"hs
By Rabbi Gary Moskowitz, Former NYPD Officer/Trainer and Director of Child Safety Institute
Still in shock we must focus our attention to how such a horrific tragedy could occur and what went wrong in the rescue efforts of precious innocent Leiby.
There are those who don’t want to point fingers as they must realize by now are pointing in their direction and threaten the very fabric of the way they do business in the community and with government.
Ignorance and arrogance permeates the air in Boro Park and in much of the orthodox Jewish community. Egregious errors in judgment leading to serious ethics violations at best to sinister crimes will be exposed which I pray compel the city or state to hold hearings how the community and police conspire to protect their images at the cost of great suffering of the weak and most frail in our community.
Yes, I believe the Leiby murder could have been prevented if proper caution and care were taken prior to the kidnapping and certainly if the rescue effort was more professional. I am detailing this with other cases in my book “Chasing Justice – I am my Brother’s Keeper.”
The insular orthodox community which breeds insular crime feels that a collective appearance which influences both public and private funding is more important than the individual no matter what the misery. Pedophiles and domestic batterers have a good life knowing that there is little chance their victim will come forward out fear of the community’s religious psychological terror campaign against anyone who threatens the ban of approaching the secular courts or press. Many in the religious leadership indoctrinate their congregants and followers that they would be in violation of Jewish law if they would turn in any Jew to an outside jurisdiction namely our secular courts regardless of their crimes against their community. They fail to realize they are not living in ancient sovereign Israel as they have no jurisdiction in criminal matters as they openly violate the law of our land which by itself is a violation of Jewish law and this is accomplished and facilitated under the protection of many politicians kowtowing to their strong influence from block voting.
Beyond the public congratulations between the volunteer’s community’s security patrol known as the Shomrim and the NYPD there are deep feelings of mistrust and resentment emanating from both sides. The NYPD knows that the Shomrim are not accountable to anyone, have little or no professional training, hinder serious criminal investigations and yet the community has more faith and trust in them as they often seem to show up the NYPD on many occasions. The Shomrim experiences regularly the often reported headline news of the NYPD’s incompetency, laziness and outright refusal to take and investigate complaints as the rest of us know. While disdain runs both ways their relationship is cemented by a larger common interest – keeping the statistics low anyway possible regardless of violations of law. This complicit relationship often means people like the murderer Levy Aron often stays out of harm’s way until there is a body count. The police keep crime down when they don’t report it and Boro Park keeps their image.
Every second is crucial in a missing child’s case. There is no time to guess during an emergency. The following information comes from multi-media reports, interviews with reporters, parents in Boro Park, the Shomrim, canvassing volunteers and with members of the NYPD on the abduction and murder of Leiby Kletsky. I am convinced more information will come out shedding light on the debacle of the case. This is a brief oversimplification of the problems of the Leiby kidnapping/murder case which collectively contributed to this human tragedy.
There is no parent training in Child Safety for most of the community and since most do not watch television or use on the internet for fear of being over exposed to the bad influences of the world they do not have access to much public information on the subject. There is no community preparation for the obvious, missing kids, awareness of sex offenders in area, terror attack etc. As a result ignorance overwhelms many people. Most people I spoke with still believe that a child has to be missing for 24 hours first before the Police get involved which is not true. The Jewish civilian patrol Shomrim like most civilian patrols have little or no professional training and often practice rescue searches during the emergency itself. Rabbinical pressure on the community to call a rabbi first or their designees in this case the Shomrim regarding crimes are a must with full knowledge of the NYPD. This includes missing child cases as the rabbinical leadership does not desire unwanted scrutiny in their community which is fodder for another article.
Leiby’s mother waited an hour before calling for help and then she first called the Shomrim. The Shomrim then waited another three hours to notify the police thereby losing precious time where if the NYPD was brought in right away other resources could have been deployed. Additionally the Shomrim keeps records of suspected criminals/pedophiles which the police department has no access too opening legal consequences from the right and left and while they have access themselves they have no authority to do anything with it without involving civil and/or criminal activities. Finally thousands of dedicated volunteers showed up with no clear direction.
When police finally arrive it became a fanfare of high profile imaging where commanders flaunt their political friendships without the proper investigative tactics which ultimately could have saved the boy’s life. The hero here is a man name Yakov German who initially had the idea to check the video surveillance cameras from the stores surrounding the school/camp area where Leiby was walking from. Why weren’t the police detectives and commanders many who are getting paid over $110,000 a year and many with only a high school diploma pouring through these videos like Yakov German did right away? Even when they first got Yakov’s video showing Leiby’s last whereabouts it took them hours longer to bring in another detective who specializes in identifying cars to identify the car of Levy Aron. From reports in the media and from volunteers who were there validated my own assumption from my prior experiences as a police officer with these cases involving the NYPD. Complacency with no immediate sense of urgency resonated from some officers believing that little Leiby will turn up later as what happens in most cases they work on. The “Here we go again attitude” where the belief is that Leiby is probably at a friends house where he fell asleep. This is very similar to when officers answer commercial and residential burglar alarms. With so many being false the police often become lax in their response and investigation. They need to treat every case as real and think of the false alarms as practice for when the real thing happens. Even more insidious is the belief by many in the community and by some of the officers working there that the Chassidic orthodox Jews have too much clout which negatively affects their police performance. One cop asked me, “Do you think the police brass with all their helicopters and squads of detectives would have come if there was a missing black kid? Two weeks after this diabolical murder the police in the 66 precinct in Boro Park still have not received any additional training about missing children or dealing with the local public as was reported to me by officers in the command. In short the police need much retraining in thinking and investigating.
After Leiby’s murder the Jewish community had a hug fest thanking the police and other groups for their sincerity in helping to find Leiby. Hugh ads were taken in the Jewish press. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I am sure everyone sincerely wanted to find Leiby alive and well. However their lack of training and lack of professionalism precluded this. I sincerely hope that there was an error in the media when it reported that members of the police department said that the time factor of receiving the videos depicting where Leiby was last seen wouldn’t have made a difference. According to the medical examiner Lieby wasn’t murdered until Tuesday.
Time was essential.
Leiby could have and should have been found alive and there is plenty of blame and blood to go around!
In my recent meetings with NY State Senator Marty Golden, NYC Council Public Safety Chair Peter Vallone, Congressional candidate David Weprin and NYS Assembly Dov Hikind’s legislative staff member I detailed some practical and legislative recommendations to protect our children and community. These are recommendations I have made in the past regarding protecting us from child abductions, terrorism and crime.
High grade cameras installed around businesses near schools and Houses of Worship which are accessible in real time from the internet so there is no waiting hours to access fuzzy video footage.
Video footage needs to be monitored regularly so we can detail hostile surveillance from potential abductors. If a pedophile is hanging out at a school or camp it can be detected before a situation arises. Police reports mention that this was a chance encounter by a loner. We don’t know that and there is a real possibility that Levy Aron as with other abductors was tracking Leiby and that he could have been working with another accomplice.
Technology has come of age where we can outfit every child with a tracking device on their person like we put on our cars. Every kid seven and older can carry a cell phone programmed to call only their parents or 911. Alarms can be programmed and placed on children that go off when they separate at a certain distance.
We must train and deploy a citizen detective program training parents how they can assist and facilitate police investigations very much the auxiliary police do with patrol.
Compel professional training to volunteer community patrols like the Shomrim who are dedicated to keeping their community safe or they should lose all funding.
Enforce mandated reporting of educators and specific community leaders including clergy with criminal and civil penalties for not reporting suspected crimes against t children and with cases of domestic violence.
Schools, camps and youth programs should not release kids except to a parent or a responsible adult approved by the parents.
Make available the listing of all residential sexual offenders in the community.
Legislation needs to be passed that in the investigation of any child abduction or terror attack the police do not need the permission of any owner to access the video saving hours of time.
Mandating parochial schools and camps for all their staff to be fingerprinted and go through a similar background check as the NYC Department of Education puts their teachers through.
Creation of a NYS license called “Child Safety Specialist” where every public and private school and camp would be mandated to have a Child Safety Specialist training kids, parents and educators a few times annually before, during and after school starts.
Anyone who is aware that a child is missing within the first hour and doesn’t report it to their police department should face felony charges.
Offer tax credits for those who spend funds on safety for their children from martial arts classes, Safety Instructional DVDs, safety cameras to child safety classes.
Creation of our Clergy 911 program where all clergy would be trained in crisis intervention and mandating reporting.
A government, religion and community are judged by how they protect the weakest in their society; the sick, the poor, the victim and the oppressed. The bible is replete with statements like “Justice, Justice You Should Pursue and “Don’t Stand Idly by the Blood of your Neighbor” and much more. Denying justice to the weakest for some warped sense of community/religious image is a threat to justice everywhere. Since most of the leadership is either complicit or missing in inaction we are appealing to mothers to rise up and protect your children, yourselves and Jewish and American law.
Our group the Child Safety Initiative made up of professionals in the health, medical, educational, police, legal and rabbinic fields are calling for a federal civil rights probe leading to hearings to determine which mandated organization, educational institution, community group and individuals working with the minority Jewish community were/are coercing individuals not to assert their rights in reporting crimes and testifying in court against their assailants. We implore victims and those who are aware of victims in the community to come forward to us. We can offer those coming forward protection by working with the Department of Justice. We are also calling for any rabbi or community leader who espouses their congregants and people to go to a rabbi first in the event of a suspected crime bypassing the police should face criminal and civil rights charges.
Lastly as I strenuously try to apply my grief and anger management techniques to myself my advice for my own orthodox community is I pray you awaken from your coma soon. Don’t wait again for a body count. Take your energies, money and resources and invest it in practical preventive and therapeutic care. The community doesn’t need more dedications of Torahs and synagogues in memorials. We need more safety and security for our children in our communities.
We at the Child Safety Initiative have been offering child safety seminars and martial arts classes regularly. We are completing our first Child Safety DVD which will be available shortly and we are hosting a Child Safety and Health conference at the last week of August at the Kutcher’s Hotel. In September we are holding our first annual Child Safety and Health Legislative forum. Don’t be reactive be proactive.
As the Jewish New Year approaches and Jews around the world become more reflective of their lives I kneel before God scratching the floor weeping in agony looking towards the heavens with shouts from my heart – Why?
I can almost hear whispers of, “Don’t ask God - ask Man! Rabbi Gary Moskowitz Director of Child safety initiative firstname.lastname@example.org www.martialartstherapy.org
Dr. Lipner in his office
Published by VIN News,
Jul 29, 2009
By Dr. Asher Lipner
The Haftara that we read this past Shabbos, called Chazon Yishayahu, is meant to remind us during our period of mourning, of what role the Jewish people played in their own exile from the land of Israel, and the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash which represents our special vehicle for closeness to Hashem.
The Navi did not find a lack of religious devotion expressed in the Jewish people’s Mitzvos bein adam lamakom, between man and G-d. Actually, Yishayahu portrayed the observance of these Mitzvos as themselves driving a further wedge between the people and Hashem, almost implying, Kabyachol, that it would have been better if the Jews would not have performed them:
“What use to me is the multitude of your offerings? Saith G-d. Satiated am I with elevating offerings of rams and the fat of fattened animals; and for the blood of oxen and lambs and he-goats I did not wish. When ye come, it should be to be seen in My Presence: who hath sought this from your hands, to trample down My courtyards! Bring henceforth no more vain acknowledging-offerings; incense of abomination is it to Me: New Moon and Sabbath are outward proclamations; I can not tolerate obstinate iniquity together with celebration of holy days. Your New-moons and your appointed festivals My soul hateth, they have become a burden unto me, I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you, yea, even when ye make many prayers I will not hear: your hands are full of blood –guilt.”(Yeshayahu 1:11-1:15)
Apparently the Jewish people were keeping all of the Mitzvos of Karbanos and Tefillah and Avoda, as well as Shmiras Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh and Yomtov. And not only did these Mitzvos not save them, but they were actually seen as repulsive at that time because of the context in which they were performed. Why were the hands of the nation considered full of blood-guilt? Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch explains that these horribly accusatory words “do not refer to actual murder, but to social crimes which undermine the happiness and life of one’s neighbor.” And this is spelled out in Yeshayahu’s admonition to stand up for the rights of the weak and defenseless:
“Learn to do good, seek justice, strengthen the robbed, perform justice for the orphan, plead the case of the widow.” (1:17)
In the eloquent words of an anonymous blogger, who goes by DovBear :
“The reason the Temple was destroyed was because the leaders of Jerusalem were pious frauds, who used the Temple to justify their selfish behavior.... In the language of the Prophet, they did not "Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, [or] plead the case of the widow." They didn't protect the vulnerable or defend the rights of the innocent. Instead they just kept showing up on the Temple Mount, day after day, with their fat bulls and incense. While vulnerable people went exploited and unprotected, the leaders of Jerusalem gathered on a mountaintop to pay lip service to God.”
Our Own Times
In our generation, in which we have not yet seen the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash, we must take these words to heart. Perhaps the “social crime” as Rav Hirsch calls it, that we all have the most “blood-guilt on our hands” for is that of child sexual abuse. Who else has had their “happiness and life undermined” and needs to be strengthened? Who else has been neglected and abandoned by our community more than the children who have had both their innocence and their bodies violated, abandoned and neglected, as we have refused to hear their voices?
But these are not the only victims of abuse in our community. Women who suffer the devastating and sometimes life threatening effects of emotional, physical and sexual abused by their husbands, do not yet have strong enough support in our community from all of us. When they are finally able to get a divorce, how much shame and stigma do we foist on them instead of love and compassion?
And there are less direct ways in which we are allowing people to be abused by those who have more power than them. What would you call it when a Yeshivah or a Bays Yaakov expels a child, neglecting to give him or her a fair hearing, yet alone the Beis Din of twenty three impartial judges that the Chazon Ish famously called for when deciding such a matter of potential life and death. Is this not abuse of the worst kind? What about parents who work hard and are Moser Nefesh for their children’s Jewish education being turned away from schools that want only the most elite children from the most elite families, despite the long history of Torah scholarship often blossoming from Jewish children of the least prestigious backgrounds?
Our reaction to these crimes needs to be one of moral outrage and confrontation. And yet we continue to choose to hide our heads in the sand. As Rabbi Lipshutz writes in his recent Yated Neeman editorial,
“When confronted with evil, and corrupt and depraved behavior, we are afraid to stand up and denounce it. We examine the issue from all sides, weighing the pros and cons of clear-cut opposition. We equivocate and try to figure out what’s in it for us personally, instead of considering the greater good.
When people prey on the weak, and we are hesitant to confront and expose them because we don’t want to appear as baalei machlokes, we are enabling evil to flourish. When we accept money and honor from people we know to be corrupt, we are encouraging these people to grow in power and influence….
Perhaps in the area of being bullied and robbed of their rights, second place must go to those who break with the crowd and choose to loudly speak up for the victims in our community."
Rabbi Lipshutz aptly describes our community’s reaction to these advocates, and the damage it does to us all: “When we permit others to publicly humiliate good people who have attempted to improve the public welfare, we are contributing to the moral pollution of our world.
Abused people cannot fight alone. Victims cannot be expected to have the moral stamina to fight off those who harmed them. By doing nothing to hold the guilty to account, we are as guilty as the perpetrators. The only way evil can flourish is if people of good will remain silent, either out of fear or self interest.”
This powerful “Yeshayau-esque” admonition looks deeply into the motives of people who “stand by idly the blood of their neighbor,” and identifies at least two culprits: fear and self interest. Self interest is indeed highlighted by Yeshayahu in condemning the behavior of the leaders of his generation.
“Thy princes are disobedient to the Law and companions of thieves, therefore doth the whole of their nation love bribery and run after payments. They do not look after the rights of the fatherless and the cause of the widow doth not even come unto them.” (1:23)
As for fear, we need only to look in this past week’s Parsha to see what fear of other people’s reactions can do to pervert justice and neglect the truth.
“Lo Saguru Mipnei Ish…Thou shall not fear before any man…” Devarim 1:17)
This is understood by the Meforshim to mean two things. Firstly, The Gemorah says that if two people come before a judge, one soft and one harsh…once you know that the harsh one is the guilty party, you are not allowed to avoid speaking up out of fear that he is wicked and may kill my child or may burn down my business. The reasoning is that although he may be a powerful person, Hashem is more powerful and “My fear should be upon you and not the fear of flesh and blood” (Sanhedrin 56b).
Secondly, Rashi explains another kind of fear that people experience that prevents them from advocating for victims of crime and injustice by alternatively translating “Lo Saguru” as “Thou shall not close up your words before a man”. This means, says the Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvos (Negative commandment 276), that a student sitting in front of his Rebbe who sees that the Rebbe is mistakenly ruling in favor of the wrong party, must speak up, or else he transgresses the Biblical commandment of “Lo Saguru Mipnei Ish”. And furthermore the Rambam adds, the student is also transgressing, “Midvar Sheker Tirchak,” the Biblical commandment to stay far away from falsehood.
Fearing one’s loss of reputation, and of being shamed for doing the right thing is decried by virtually all Mussar Seforim as being the Atzas Hayetzer, or Sotton’s counsel. The Chovos Halvovos decries even DOING good deeds to win the approval of others (as opposed to concern with a relationship with G-d) as the worst kind of idol worship. How much more so does NOT doing the right thing out of concern for others’ opinions bespeak a lack of faith and of spirituality?
The Second Temple
On Tisha B’av we learn the Gemorah that describes the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, in which an innocent Jew being ejected from a party lead to the destruction of the Second Temple. Once again, when one Jew was traumatically humiliated publicly by another, the Rabbinic leadership did nothing. This led the traumatized individual to conclude that they acquiesced and were complicit in his abuse, and he turned into perhaps the greatest traitor or “Malshin” we have ever known. The Maharsha, in one of his comments on this Agaddic story explains the inaction of the Rabbis as a kind of flattering of the rich and powerful abuser, whom they were intimidated and impressed by. If not a literal violation of “Lo Saguru Mipnei Ish” this was clearly going against the spirit of the law and was a travesty of justice the likes of which, as we have already seen, Hashem said He cannot tolerate.
So as we fast and mourn for the destruction of our Holy Temple, and ponder our failings as yet another opportunity has been lost for us to reverse our history and have the Beis Hamikdash rebuilt, it seems clear that the necessary step we must all take is to become people who act the way Reb Chaim Soloveitchik explained the sole job description of a Rabbi: “to address the grievances of those who are abandoned and alone, to protect the dignity of the poor, and to save the oppressed from the hands of his oppressor."
Innocent children who need protection from abusers, as well as people of all ages who are victims of all manner of abuse, need all of us to advocate strongly for their rights, to offer them whatever safety, support, acceptance and validation we can. Virtually all of the Torah’s messages about the destruction of both versions of the Beis Hamikdash, show that this is what was lacking in the Jewish people’s behavior.
Let us commit ourselves to do better in the upcoming year, and to prepare for Elul and the Aseres Ymei Tshuvah with an eye towards these goals. A radical shift in our approach to the problem of abuse will surely bring us all closer to our ultimate goal of the coming of Mashiach, so that next year we will no longer mourn on Tisha B’av but rather celebrate the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash speedily in our days.
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Seared by a Peeping Tom’s Gaze
By DEBRA GWARTNEY The New York Times, Opinion Page July 21, 2012
MY daughter Mary, 14 years old, was undressing for bed one night when she noticed a light in her window.
She stepped onto her chair to read a word hanging in the dark night air: Panasonic. Nine floating letters. She saw knuckles, a curled fist around the handle of a video camera, and an arm dropping away as the person who had been filming her disappeared.
I jumped into the hallway when I heard her scream. I found Mary crawling on her hands and knees. While she managed to get out a halting account of the man at her window, I grabbed my phone to punch 9-1-1 and, though my thumping heart warned me not to, hurried across our cool grass in bare feet, to the side yard outside Mary’s window.
No one was there. Whoever had spied on my daughter was gone. The bucket he’d taken from our carport was upside down in the flower bed. Twenty minutes later, a policeman picked up that bucket and tipped his flashlight toward the ground, illuminating circle lapped upon circle in the soil. The bucket had been used many times as a step there.
I hadn’t protected my daughters — neither Mary nor her three sisters — in their own home. That’s a failure I’ve had to live with for more than a decade now. Reading recently about the young victims of sexual abuse in the Penn State case, my old anguish returned, rushing in as raw and frightening as when I first discovered the predation my daughters had been victim to. I remembered the unimaginable bind I’d struggled with: whether to become involved in the prosecution of the man who had invaded our privacy, or to avoid it, utterly — to look the other way.
A year and a half after Mary saw the man at her window, in the spring of 2001, a reporter friend of mine sent me a fax about the arrest of one William Joseph Green. He lived in Eugene, Ore., the small city where I was raising my family. He had turned in a roll of film for processing that contained images of a young girl lying on top of him; when the police searched his house, they discovered dozens of troubling videotapes. I called the police, and the following day, I met with a detective who showed me a stack of still images captured from the videos. The third one was of Mary. I didn’t have to go on, and didn’t, but the detective wondered if my daughter would look at all the pictures and help sort out the identities of the other girls.
This moment was the crux, the Y in the road. I could have refused the detective, gone home and said nothing to my girls. We could have forged on, at least for a while, in the seductive comfort of avoidance. It was tempting to believe that Mary would move on, soon forgetting about the man at the window. But would my daughter forgive me if she discovered years later that I had learned his identity and thwarted her chance to be involved in bringing him to justice?
I did tell Mary about the arrest and the detective’s request, a choice I have sometimes regretted. I remember the sores around her fingernails, her chewed-up flesh, which made me want to keep her at home, away from any police station or courthouse. But Mary stared me down, determined to let other girls find out, too, that William Green had been caught.
The detective came to our house to lay out the photos, cut so that only faces showed, on our kitchen table. Some of the girls were unaware that they were being taped, delighted in that crystallized moment in their rooms, while others seemed to sense a presence outside their windows. Their expressions, to my eyes, betrayed a terrible fear.
Mary recognized in the images her younger sister — a devastating discovery — and also about 10 other girls she knew, from school, from dance class, from hanging around a neighborhood that would never again feel safe to her. Although many residents had filed peeping-Tom complaints with the police over the years, no officer had ever linked those reports. Mr. Green was caught only after he dropped off the film for developing. The girl in those photographs turned out to be 11 years old.
Mr. Green would often wait in a van outside schools or private dance and gymnastics studios in the afternoon, watching children emerge. He’d choose one to follow, seeking single-mother homes like mine. Police officers discovered a page filled with neat notes written in pencil: addresses and descriptions of girls, each given a grade. Blond, thin, A-minus; brown hair, preteen, C-plus. After dark, he returned to the house he’d scouted, moving to a window to collect on his obsession: the girl changing into pajamas and climbing into bed.
WILLIAM GREEN’S earliest video recording dated to 1996. His crimes went undiscovered for five years, I am convinced, because we didn’t want to know that someone like him was one of our neighbors. After the full extent of his acts was disclosed — that he had taped more than 100 girls, including all four of my daughters — there was no outrage, really, little fury, even among the victims’ parents. Denial was rampant. They’re only pictures, was a frequent comment. At least he didn’t touch them. I understand this response far better than I want to admit.
I could hardly bear the subject in our home, my children’s jagged emotions causing me to quell most discussions of William Green. One night, my second daughter, Stephanie, exploded over dinner, angry that I hadn’t called legislators, marched to the jail demanding justice, anything. If that’s what was required to bring about change, I didn’t have it in me. I sat paralyzed. Wasn’t it enough that I’d taken Mary to grand jury hearings, met with the detective for hours, spoken to a local newspaper reporter? Couldn’t others do the rest?
The prosecutor had told us parents that she would charge Mr. Green with felony molestation — of the 11-year-old — and could throw in misdemeanor charges of invasion of personal privacy. It is not a felony in Oregon to videotape someone surreptitiously, even an unclothed minor. And because Mr. Green had not distributed or sold the images of our daughters, he was not accused of promoting child pornography.
But then the detective, acting on a gut instinct, petitioned the judge for a second warrant to search Mr. Green’s house. Officers discovered a secret cache in the garage, containing yet more photographs and videotapes. The detective called to ask me to come look over the new evidence.
Once again, I considered leaving, running, forgetting. I’d sell my house, move to another city. Take my children away from those schools, those dance programs, those classes, anywhere Mr. Green had parked his van.
But I stayed. The detective entered the police station waiting room with a box and a photo album. In the box were panties, bras, swimsuits, tangles of human hair. In the photo album, a montage of stolen pictures of my daughters. Mr. Green had broken into our house and taken any image that featured the girls in scant clothing, shorts and a tank top, bathing suits, a nightie on Christmas morning. He’d cut them out, tiny paper dolls, and had glued them into a salacious blur.
Mr. Green did this to other families, as well. But that wasn’t all. He also entered his victims’ bedrooms, removed his clothing and taped himself as he masturbated on their beds, panties wadded in his fist. Back at his house, he crudely spliced images of himself in sexual acts with images of the girls — the children getting into bed without a clue that a man had that morning slipped between their sheets.
The detective sat in a chair next to me, having closed the album and laid it on a table. He nearly touched my shoulder, but didn’t. I nearly told him that if I had acted on a niggling intuition months earlier — by crumpling up the fax, and never coming forward about Mary’s sighting of the man at her window — I wouldn’t be facing what William Green had done to us.
“Now I can promise you he will never leave prison,” the detective said.
But in 2014, William Green will likely leave prison.
Just before his trial was to begin, he pleaded guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors and offered, to my mind, a weak statement of contrition. At his sentencing hearing, which fell on Sept. 11, 2001, my four daughters testified — the only victims to do so. The judge gave Mr. Green half the time the prosecution sought. I fear that when Mr. Green is freed, his first action might be to buy a video camera to carry in the palm of his hand.
ELEVEN years past his conviction, are my daughters over what Mr. Green did to them? Spot them on the street — vivacious, happy, self-possessed young women — and you’d no doubt say they’re fine. But in some ways, the five of us will never get over what happened. We’ll not get over the violation of our most private sanctuary by a man who said that as long as he wasn’t seen filming girls, he felt he was inflicting harm on no one. And we’ll not get over our abiding concern that he may, in the not too distant future, go after other children in the same way. A few months after he was sent to prison, I filed a civil lawsuit against William Green, hoping he’d be left with no assets, no money to buy film and editing equipment, upon his release. But that effort never got much traction, and we quickly agreed to a small settlement. Another disappointment.
Maybe the last time the girls and I deeply, intimately, addressed the William Green situation was the night a friend came to our house to help us gather up sheets, pillowcases, underwear, swimsuits — anything, everything, he might have fondled or merely brushed against. I started up our living room fireplace, and we held each other as we cut up the cloth to throw into the flames. The last thing we burned was an oil painting Stephanie had created of William Green, a picture of his face and his fiercely dark eyes. She tore the canvas to strips, handing them to the rest of us. We fed those pieces to the fire, watching his image curl and melt and finally disappear.
Debra Gwartney is an essayist and the author of the memoir “Live Through This.”
By Debbie Teller. July 23, 2012
What we have learned from the Penn State child sex abuse and cover up story is that leaders in every area of society have failed miserably to protect children. The difference is in the various reactions when the failure is exposed.
Let's compare Non-Jewish reactions to those of our own, and let's be ashamed on this Tisha B'av, and recognize the modern day Churban, the spiritual holocaust that is occurring right here, right now.
Joe Paterno about Sandusky: "I should have done more."
The Novominsker Rebbe about Kolko: "It was not in my neighborhood."
The Pope: "I apologize for he Church to the victims of the sinful priests and for the failure of the Church to protect them."
The Agudah: "Parents must ask a Rabbi before going to the cops to protect their children, and no Jew should go to jail even if he sexually preys on children."
Penn State University in response to Jerry Sandusky:
1. Commissions outsiders led by Louis Freeh to investigate the scandal and publish its report, naming names of all those who knew and covered up.
2. Offers to pay damages to each and every victim of Sandusky.
The OU in response to Baruch Lanner:
1. Commissions community insiders led by Richard Joel to investigate, but quashed the Lanner Commission's report in order to cover up for all those who knew about Lanner and had protected him.
2. Offered the victims no financial remuneration or any other assistance to help them attempt to put their lives back together, nor even a public apology.
The Boy Scouts' new policy to protect teen age boys: No more Gay scout masters.
Gedolei Yisroel's policy putting children and teen age boys at risk: Gay and/or abusive Rabbis Eisemann, Reichman, Bryks, Wainhaus, Tendler, Levitt and Kolko can teach as long as they don't get arrested.
Board of Trustees of Penn State University in response to the failures of the administrators to protect children: Fired the President, the Vice President, the Athletic Director and Head Coach Paterno.
Board of Directors of Ohel Children's Home and Family Service in response to the failures of their administrators to protect children: Extended the multi-million dollar contract of CEO David Mandel.
The principal of the Los Angeles public school after firing the entire faculty because of a culture of silence that led to several children being sexually abused: "The safety of children comes first."
Torah Umesorah, the National Association of Hebrew Day Schools in opposing the Child Victims' Act: "The financial integrity of our institutions (come first because they) are the lifeblood of our community."