Report Abuse to Police, Not Rabbis

 

Guest post by R. Michael J. Broyde

Rabbi Michael Broyde is a law professor at Emory University, was the founding rabbi of the Young Israel in Atlanta and is a dayan in the Beth Din of America.

I have been answering questions about the proper role of the Rabbinical Courts (bet din system) in the United States for nearly 20 years. One of the questions that I am sometimes asked is the role of the rabbinical courts when confronting allegations of abuse. My view – which I know is not the only one present even within the Modern Orthodox community – is simple and clear. There is no place for rabbinical courts when sexual or physical abuse is alleged against children or young adults.

My reasons are (at least to me) simple and clear, and boil down to five basic points.

  • Rabbinical Courts are ill equipped to deal with criminal allegations. They neither have the authority nor the expertise to make the kinds of factual determinations needed in such cases, nor to incarcerate those who pose a danger to others.
  • Halacha does not prohibit – at all and in any form – the use of secular authorities or courts to investigate, arrest and punish people who engage in such abuse. Maybe in an unjust government and a different time and place these issues might apply, but not in the United States.
  • There is no need to seek rabbinic license before making such a report to the police. Such reports to the police should be made as soon as possible and expert therapists, social workers and other professionals should be welcomed into our community to help address the consequences of child abuse.
  • It is good for the Orthodox community to promptly report child abuse to the police. A policy of promptly reporting all cases of child abuse to the police makes our community much less likely to be the victim of such conduct over the long term. People should have no fear of social stigma in filing such reports to the police, and anyone who stigmatizes those who make such reports is assisting in a terrible wrong in our community.
  • Not reporting such conduct frequently produces a desecration of God’s name when people assume the worst. There is often some sort of a cover up by Orthodox Jews when misconduct in the Orthodox community is alleged. Indeed, we are – for better or worse – a close-knit community and finding an unbiased and qualified rabbinical court for such allegations would be very difficult.

I have made these points many times and in many different settings over many years, going back nearly fifteen years, and to many people’s chagrin put them in writing more than a decade ago, both in Hebrew and in English. Indeed, these are the policies of the Beth Din of America, as well.

The problems that the Catholic church had and is having are directly caused by its decision to have its own religious courts investigate abuse allegations and not to report such allegations to the police. We should not make that mistake and when a person sees credible evidence of abuse, he must call the police (as I have done myself). In my view, Jewish law is clear and simple on this matter.

While I recognize that in some idealized version of the world, it might be better to have an address within our own community to go to to raise issues of sexual abuse of children and young adults, it is clear that in the world that we live in we cannot – and we should not – try.

Because I have been so clear on this matter for so many years, I was stunned by the recent allegations in the name of one of the victims in the Forward and repeated in an op-ed in the Jewish Week that I was somehow involved in covering up the allegations of abuse from nearly thirty years ago at Yeshiva University High School for Boys (which I myself attended from 1978 -1982).

This year, one of the victims claimed to the Forward that he told me about this abuse in the year 2000, and (he maintains) I told him there was no grounds for a bet din hearing. As I told the Forward, I have no recollection of any such conversation, and I certainly would recall anyone telling me that Rabbi George Finkelstein sexually touched him. Had I heard such a charge, I would have told the person to call the police and not to go to any bet din, as I expressed many times in many different contexts, for the reasons I explained above.

The Forward reported this as my response and I was surprised that it was not noted in the recent op-ed in the Jewish Week. Instead that article alleges that I should be “investigated” to examine whether as a dayan (judge) in the Beth Din of America I “dismissed his charges without giving him a proper hearing.” Putting aside that this op-ed neither quotes my published denial that this conversation even took place (I certainly would have remembered someone alleging that George Finklestein sexually abused them) nor my public ruling that as a matter of halacha anyone with such a claim should go – run – to the police, nor that as a mere dayan, I had no authority to grant or deny hearings, its basic framework of the problem and the solution is wrong.

Of course, I would have not given him a “hearing” in any bet din. Rabbinical courts should never hold hearings on allegations of child abuse.

We do not want rabbinical courts to hold hearings in the face of an abuse allegation. We want dayanim (rabbinical court judges) to encourage victims of abuse to go to the police and have the secular authorities conduct an investigation. If I had been told about this abuse, I certainly would have told the victim to call the police and file criminal charges as I have told others in similar situations. The last thing we in the Orthodox community want to do is empower our own rabbinical establishment with investigating criminal violations of the law. That is not our job and no one in the Modern Orthodox rabbinical establishment wants it.

Instead we trust the police and the district attorneys to honestly investigate, charge and convict abusers and our community is poorly served by rabbinical court involvement in allegations of criminal abuse. We welcome the secular authorities investigating matters of abuse.

Of course, we as a community need to build structures that make abuse unlikely and encourage its reporting – it is by the care for the vulnerable that God judges our community. While people in supervisory positions need to be trained to be vigilant to monitor for abuse and insure that we care for the vulnerable, we dare not assign to our own rabbinical courts the authority to hold hearings to determine if abuse occurred. That job belongs to the just and honest governmental authorities in the United States.

 

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73 Responses

  1. Davd Gold says:

    What a thoughtful and interesting piece by Rabbi Broyde. I think he gives the right rule as a matter of halacha. In truth, I was involved in a case in my. Community where Rabbi Broyde wrote a very clear and direct letter to our shul board directing them to report a suspected abuser in our shul to the police. It was both very brave and controversial. He remains one of my favorite M.O poskim. Wow.

  2. IH says:

    With no disrespect to R. Broyde, I’m having trouble parsing his annoyance that the Jewish Week editorial “alleges that I should be ‘investigated’ to examine whether as a dayan (judge) in the Beth Din of America I ‘dismissed his charges without giving him a proper hearing” given his statements that preceded it. It sounds like precisely the course of action he, himself, advocates – “that job belongs to the just and honest governmental authorities in the United States”.

  3. Charlie Hall says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Broyde.

  4. Mr. Cohen says:

    These accusations are sometimes false; you could get a Jew thrown in jail, and then find out later that vicious kids were “just having fun” by making false accusations.

  5. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    I agree with IH here.

    Rabbi Broyde is very gung-ho on having other people investigated based on allegations of impropriety, but strongly objects to this when he himself is the accused. Then, he wants a lot of weight put on the fact that he denies the allegations.

    Hmm …

  6. Hirhurim says:

    He didn’t say “tried in the media”

  7. SOL says:

    R. Broyde – Yasher Koach. Curious though, in Finkelstein case where Statute of Limitations may have placed Finkelstein outside the reach of the law, how would you suggest MO community Beit Din or Rabbinical leadership responds?

  8. J. says:

    Mr Cohen – Why would you assume that rabbis are more qualified to judge whether or not an allegation is false than the secular authorities?

  9. . . . or to respond effectively in the even a person is judged guilty

  10. Mr. Cohen:

    you’re missing the point, that it is the secular authorities who are best equipped to address the problem, from investigation the accusations through dealing with those found to be guilty. unfortunately that system isn’t perfect, but neither is the bet din system. so the question becomes system is better. so which do you think is better?

    or response #2 to reword your comment: these accusations are sometimes true; you could keep and sick and dangerous jew on the street and even in schools or other settings with children, and then find out later that . . .

  11. Gabriel M says:

    1) What if the victim would prefer the matter to be dealt with by a Rabbinical court?

    2) While there are good reasons to think that Rabbinical courts are, at present, systemically inept at dealing with cases of child abuse and so going to secular authorities is the better option, this should not be confused with blind conifdence in the U.S. government, or any other government, epitomised by statements like “we trust the police and the district attorneys to honestly investigate, charge and convict”. There is no empirical justification whatsoever for such a claim. I would refer anyone who is interested to a long running series of columns by Christopher Brooker in the “Telegraph” newspaper on numerous shocking cases invovling the out of control child protection services in the United Kingdom.

    3) If, as indeed appears to be the case, Rabbinical courts are not fir for purpose in this and other respects it is the job of people in power to fix these courts. It is a hillul Hashem that our courts are so inept and useless that we have to use gentile courts (abeit a lesser hillul Hashem than is caused by people who stick with the courts without reforming them).

  12. joel rich says:

    Would the extension of this be that any individual who suspects child abuse should go directly to the authorities without discussing it with anyone?
    KT

  13. moshe shoshan says:

    joel
    Thats Rav Elyashiv’s position , provided that there are reasonable grounds for suspicion.

  14. Elliot Pasik says:

    Excellent essay, focusing on the criminal side of abuse, but what about civil claims for damages? Often, the statute of limitations for the civil claim has expired, and the victim is without recourse. Being that halacha does not recognize any statute of limitations, can a beis din adjudicate a victim’s civil claim for damages against his/her abuser, and/or the institution where it occurred? And, if so, what types of damages are available? Perhaps Rabbi Broyde can answer these questions.

  15. Nachum says:

    Gabriel: It isn’t just a matter of ineptitude. Rabbinical courts are factually unable to deal with criminal matters because they simply don’t have police power. They have some limited powers in Israel, but not relating to child abuse. So despite any criticism you may have of the secular system, if you want anything done, you have to use them.

    R’ Broyde, two points:

    1. I don’t know about 1978-1982, but that R’ Finkelstein (God bless him, I must add) did weird stuff was well known in my years (a decade later); further, everyone who’s written on the subject says this was true in their era as well. No one ever talked about sexual abuse in my time, but I wonder if you had heard about anything *else.*

    2. Your reference to “nearly” fifteen years: When was your first piece? Is “nearly” fourteen? Thirteen? Thirteen would take us to…2000. I’m sorry- I believe you, trust me- but that seems a bit lawyerly to me.

  16. Y says:

    Excellent point on the example of the Catholic Church. We learn in Pirkei Avos that being wise means learning from every person, and the Gemara says being wise means foreseeing the consequences of our actions. Putting these together, it’s clear we need to learn from historical experiences (such as the Church’s experience with abuse), and adopt best practices for preventing harm (such as going straight to the police with abuse allegations) as soon as we have reliable information that this is what works. Hashem gave us our faculties of reason and observation for a good reason — to use them.

  17. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    Gil Student: “He didn’t say “tried in the media””

    You’re calling it “tried in the media” because it’s about a guy you like. When media outlets call for investigations of accused molestors, you don’t object to it as being “tried in the media”.

    ISTM that these are serious charges against R’ Broyde. The allegation here is that he became aware of child abuse charges and not only did nothing about it but actively discouraged the victim from persuuing it further. This is exactly the type of behavior and attitude that abuse hunters are apt to criticize, and I don’t see why R’ Broyde gets off just because he so loudly calls for investigations of others and is so firmly established as a member of the “right” team.

    MS: “Thats Rav Elyashiv’s position , provided that there are reasonable grounds for suspicion.”

    I don’t believe that RE has ever said this. Do you have any source for this claim?

    In general, RE’s position has been greatly misrepresented on this matter.

    Nachum: “Rabbinical courts are factually unable to deal with criminal matters because they simply don’t have police power.”

    Rabbinical courts can and do authorize turning to the authorities if someone is recaltricant. So this particular argument is not a valid argument for bypassing them.

  18. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    “recaltricant”

    Recalcitrant, sorry

  19. emma says:

    IH, I don’t think the “investigation” called for was a governmental one. Indeed it would make no sense to call for the government to investigate whether a rabbi told someone he did not have enough to bring a case _in beit din._

    FP’s more general analysis resonates with me a bit more, but not entirely. “Everybody knows that I am on the Good Guy side and would never have done that” is exactly the sort of argument that real abusers make, too. Still, the difference is that Rabbi Broyde is not accused of having done anything remotely criminal, and it is quite possible that the “he said he said” reporting of the forward originally is as much “investigation” as is possible here…

    So I don’t think there is a technical stirah between what Rabbi Broyde says should happen in other cases and his complaint about himself. But that’s because there is a gap between the two where Rabbi Broyde has not at all explained the right way to address allegations. What if the alleged improporieties are _not_ the sort that the police are best equipped to handle, and are not criminal per se? Then what? It seems to me that neither the police nor the rabbinate are the appropriate body to investigate allegations of the sort of leadership failures alleged re: MTA. So then what?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Emma – Perhaps I am confused, but I think the man who claims to have discussed the matter with R. Broyde is planning litigation: http://forward.com/articles/168655/top-lawyer-takes-yeshiva-abuse-case/?p=all

  21. IH says:

    10:53am was IH.

  22. RAM says:

    Those who would like victims to avoid the secular court system are obligated to make our courts work up to –at least– the same standards. Until that happens, pushing Jewish victims away from the secular courts is a cruel punishment in itself. However, even if our courts were up to par, they would lack the ability to make defendants show up or to make verdicts stick.

  23. Isaacson says:

    Perhaps I am being too pedantic but I’d like to focus on one line in this post:

    “There is no place for rabbinical courts when sexual or physical abuse is alleged against children or young adults.”

    Does that imply that when sexual or physical abuse is alleged against another adult (eg. spousal abuse or abuse of the elderly) those cases SHOULD be adjudicated in a Rabbinical court and not taken to the authorities?

  24. abba's rantings says:

    F-P:

    “Rabbinical courts can and do authorize turning to the authorities if someone is recaltricant. So this particular argument is not a valid argument for bypassing them.”

    le-ma’ase, what do you think any particular bet din can do to protect society at large from an abuser? (or in general someone who engages in criminal activity)

    Isaacson:

    i had the same question

  25. shmuel says:

    Fotheringay-Phipps:

    What was your contact with R. Elyashiv z’l during his lifetime, and how did you become familiar with his rulings? (Internet scuttlebut doesn’t count).

  26. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    emma: “Still, the difference is that Rabbi Broyde is not accused of having done anything remotely criminal, and it is quite possible that the “he said he said” reporting of the forward originally is as much “investigation” as is possible here…”

    True. OTOH, RCP Scheinberg was viciously crucified by anti-abuse crusaders for allegations that are remarkably similar to those against R’ Broyde.

    Apparently people believe in holding people morally accountable even if no criminal activity is involved.

    AR: “le-ma’ase, what do you think any particular bet din can do to protect society at large from an abuser? (or in general someone who engages in criminal activity)”

    At the least, they can decide if the accusation rise to the level of something that should be reported to the authorities. I would think that “tzitzis checks” should not, for example.

    shmuel: “What was your contact with R. Elyashiv z’l during his lifetime, and how did you become familiar with his rulings? (Internet scuttlebut doesn’t count).”

    Never met him, but I’ve read some of his t’shuvos and other psakim.

    More importantly, I’ve read what he wrote about reporting abusers specifically.

  27. emma says:

    IH,
    I don’t think he is planning to sue the BDA or Rabbi Broyde, but rather YU.

    Further, I understood Rabbi Broyde to be speaking specifically about reporting to secular criminal authorities. The “police” are the ones who can “investigate” and “punish.” A civil lawsuit is not the same thing, and I don’t believe it’s really addressed in this post.

  28. emma says:

    FP: “OTOH, RCP Scheinberg was viciously crucified by anti-abuse crusaders for allegations that are remarkably similar to those against R’ Broyde.”

    I think there is a distinction in terms of the severity of the allegations that each rabbi allegedly brushed off. I did not follow the other issue closely so I do know know if R Scheinberg denied having made the statement or not. But I do agree that the comparison is closer than some here would like to concede.

  29. IH says:

    Emma — I don’t know, and neither do you, what will be within scope of the civil suit if it is brought. Given the press reports, however, it seems plausible that the disputed encounter R. Broyde mentions in this post will be investigated in that context.

  30. joel rich says:

    r’ms,
    I guess the question is what are reasonable grounds. In general in life I’ve found it of value to seek second opinions. Of course, every case needs to be judged on its own unique circumstances.
    KT

  31. emma says:

    At the very least, I would be surprised if there is any cause of action against rabbi broyde or the BDA.

    In any case, my more fundamental point is that a civil suit is not a “government investigation.” Any “investigation” would be done by private actors in the context of discovery, with subpoena power but hadrly the “police,” and anyt hing about Rabbi Broyde or the BDA, even if within the scope of discovery, is very unlikely to ever come before a judge.

  32. IH says:

    Emma — really, are you taking lessons from others who specialize in strawman argumentation :-). Go back and read my initial comment and the context for the quotes. If we have a material disagreement, I would like to understand.

  33. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    emma: “I think there is a distinction in terms of the severity of the allegations that each rabbi allegedly brushed off.”

    Possible. You need to know more detail for this.

    “I did not follow the other issue closely so I do know know if R Scheinberg denied having made the statement or not.”

    He was very old and sick at the time the story broke. My guess is that he was never even informed about it at that time, and if he was, would probably not have remembered it.

  34. emma says:

    IH, “With no disrespect to R. Broyde, I’m having trouble parsing his annoyance that the Jewish Week editorial “alleges that I should be ‘investigated’ to examine whether as a dayan (judge) in the Beth Din of America I ‘dismissed his charges without giving him a proper hearing” given his statements that preceded it. It sounds like precisely the course of action he, himself, advocates – “that job belongs to the just and honest governmental authorities in the United States”.”

    The JW piece did not allege that RMB should be “investigated” by “the just and honest governmental authorities in the United States,” as far as I can see. Indeed, I don’t think there are any grounds for such an investigation. So it’s not “precisely the course of action” Rabbi Broyde advocated that he now objects to – it is a different type of investigation. As I noted, there is still a more general issue of his basic position advocating reporting to the police who will investigate thoroughly vs. not investigating himself thoroughly because he says so. But I think that inconsistency highlights a more basic gap in Rabbi Broyde’s analysis here, which is what is the appropriate way to deal with non-criminal matters.
    If we agree, great.

  35. Hoffa Araujo says:

    I agree with emma. I can’t see, as a former litigtor, what the possible cause of action would be. Not taking a case or reporting to police are not causes of action.

  36. emma says:

    (especially when the “cause of action” would be under religious law! – talk about entanglement…)

  37. emma says:

    sorry, when the case would be under religious law…

  38. Joseph Kaplan says:

    The main point R. Broyde makes is that if you have been the victim of the crime of sexual abuse or know of such a crime you should report it to the police. R. Broyde has not been accused of such a crime or, indeed, any crime so the point of the article is not relevant to the accusation of some type of wrongful behavior that has been asserted against him. He believes the accusation is completely false and as, I assume, all of us would react, is angry this (in his opinion) false allegation. I assume if the person making the allegation summons R. Broyde to a din Torah, he would go. So I don’t really see any contradiction between the point of R. Broyde’s article and his reaction to the article in the JW. He also was angry, and I believe justifiably so, that his denial of the allegation was not included in the JW article.

  39. lawrence kaplan says:

    I basically agree with R. Broyde, but am not as sanguine as he is about the American justice system. He states “We trust the police and district Attorney’s to honestly investigate, charge ,and convict abusers.” First– perhaps a slip on his part– it is not the police and DA’s who convict; it is juries and judges. More important, there areall too many instances of overzealous and plain dishonest police and DA’s. I suggest R Broyde see or read about the Central Park Five, as one example. In the opinion of many the prosecutorial system in the US is out of control, the DA’s have way too much power, the sentences are way too long, the incarceration rate way too high, etc. This is not to say I want Rabbis dealing with matters of abuse– I do not– but I am not convinced the American justice system is doing such a great job either.

  40. IH says:

    Emma — Ah, I now understand. I was not intending for a literal reading, rather to make the point by allusison (to his words). We agree more than we disagree.

    Joseph — Thank you for stating the unwritten point. I think R. Broyde’s piece is weakened by his display of anger (and defensiveness). It may be entirely justified, but it does not serve his broader point IMHO and, frankly, is gratuitous.

    Prof. Kaplan — Butressing your point, over the past 2 years Former Supreme Court Justice Stevens has written several related articles in the NY Review of Books: On the Death Sentence, Our ‘Broken System’ of Criminal Justice and A Struggle with the Police & the Law. Anyone interested in the topic will benefit from reading them. There is also devastating news about evidence that has recently come to light: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/nyregion/new-york-reviewing-over-800-rape-cases-for-possible-mishandling-of-dna-evidence.html

  41. Elliot Pasik says:

    Gabriel’s point, that the victim may prefer beis din, needs to be dealt with. As much as I prefer the secular judicial system, some victims want no part of it. They would prefer a discrete religious resolution, or forum.

  42. Nachum says:

    F-P: Referring to a secular court is an entirely different matter. They have no *original* power in these cases, period. Your example of “deciding whether or not to report” is also nonsensical.

  43. SM says:

    FP I am surprised. How dare you compare what R. Broyde was accused of (and which I don’t believe) to what R. Scheinberg was accused of (and again I don’t know if it is true). R. Scheinberg is alleged to have said that as long as Kolko didn’t “penetrate” his victims, then he is to be given a clean slate. IOW, R. Scheinberg is alleged to have given permission for a sex abuser to work with children. I don’t know if this allegation is correct, but R. Broyde is not charged with anything coming close to that.

    [edited]

  44. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    first of all, batei din do have (civil) police powers, such as subpeona power (subject to civil court oversight, since a recalcitrant witness will require an enforcement action. (CPLR 75, Fderal arbitration act, other states very similar).

    second, this is a third party action (vs YU). YU has rights to keep this out of the media; rights which are being ignored. thus a bet din may be proper (and even advantageous to a claimant, since statute of limitations issues are off the table) though the RCA has a problem of not allowing attorneys or toanim. (thus, even if they’ll allow in this case, very very few attorneys know how to operate in their arena.)

    of course, this is simply a (legalized) extortion case against YU, seeking damages vs additional publicity. thats what they did in the poly prep, and other, cases.

    2. SM — i guess two YU grads disagree. one a dayan, the other, a RY.

  45. Nachum says:

    MMY: They have that power *if* an arbitration agreement has been signed. There’s no such thing as an arbitration agreement for criminal matters.

    How does anyone have a “right” keep something out of the media? That was settled with the Zenger case, over forty years before American independence. Again, there’s no way to tie it to a beit din, first because it’s criminal, and second because you’d need both sides to agree.

    I smelled money here from day one. I’m not saying the victim is lying, but he seems to have been making noise about money (and making it item number one) for over ten years.

  46. Jacob Sasson says:

    Prof. Kaplan,

    There are indeed reasons to be less than sanguine about the American Justice system and given the recent documentary about the Central Park Five, I can understand your comment. Nonetheless, it is entirely misplaced and irresponsible.

    Yes, we have serious problems in our Justice System, primarily with respect to race and drugs. The Central Park Five are but one example. The work done by the Innocence Project is another. So what? We are not talking about the prosecution of a black man by an all white jury in Texas or a drug conviction in LA. The Justice System is quite complex. Some parts have many problems and others have few. This article is about abuse and, IMHO, the Justice System does a pretty good job investigating and prosecuting abuse.

    So, while it may be accurate to point to problems with our Justice system, with respect to prosecuting abuse, it is entirely inaccurate to label the prosecutorial system “out of control”. (What exactly is the prosecutorial “system”?) What does that even mean? Do you think abuse is over-prosecuted? Do you think there are way too many people convicted for abuse crimes they did not commit? Care to cite statistics? Claiming that to be the “opinion of many” adds no weight to the argument.

    This is an important issue. We need more voices arguing what this article argues and less reasons to avoid going to the police. Perhaps you should have begun your comment with the following disclaimer:
    Living in a foreign country, lacking a JD degree or any intimate familiarity with the US Justice system, painting the entire justice system in broad strokes, and basing myself on the “opinion of many” I think the American prosecutorial system is out of control.

  47. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    JK: “The main point R. Broyde makes is that if you have been the victim of the crime of sexual abuse or know of such a crime you should report it to the police. R. Broyde has not been accused of such a crime or, indeed, any crime so the point of the article is not relevant to the accusation of some type of wrongful behavior that has been asserted against him.”

    The “main point of the article” is speculation. Personally, I think the main point of the article was the part about R’ Broyde, and I think the purpose of the rest of the article was in order to disassociate himself as strongly as possible from the type of behavior that he is currently being accused of. I could be wrong, of course, as could you.

    But that’s not the salient point here. Regardless of what the main point of the article was, R’ Broyde also included a bunch about the accusation against him, and people can comment about that.

    “He believes the accusation is completely false and as, I assume, all of us would react, is angry this (in his opinion) false allegation. I assume if the person making the allegation summons R. Broyde to a din Torah, he would go. So I don’t really see any contradiction between the point of R. Broyde’s article and his reaction to the article in the JW.”

    You’re focusing on other matters. Again, the issue is that R’ Broyde is upset at the call for an investigation of him, while he himself calls for investigations of others in comparable circumstances.

    “He also was angry, and I believe justifiably so, that his denial of the allegation was not included in the JW article.”

    The “JW article” was an op-ed. Op-ed’s include what’s necessary to make their case. It was not a news article.

  48. Elliot Pasik says:

    Jacob, as much as I favor reporting abuse to the police, I also acknowledge that our criminal justice system, in some of its parts, needs an overhaul. I do believe that on child abuse, overall, our state and federal system is doing a good job. Much credit goes to the cooperation between the police and DAs, and well-funded nonprofit victim assistance organizations. Elsewhere, though, the prosecutors have too much power, are over-indicting, and sentencing is far too long. America has the highest prison population in the world. The conditions are often deplorable. The inmates in California and elsewhere are committing suicide. I would even agree that sentencing for non-contact computer sex crimes is too long. Something has to be done, and Prof. Kaplan is far from the first saying it. The federal judges themselves are speaking out.

  49. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    SM: “How dare you compare what R. Broyde was accused of (and which I don’t believe) to what R. Scheinberg was accused of (and again I don’t know if it is true). R. Scheinberg is alleged to have said that as long as Kolko didn’t “penetrate” his victims, then he is to be given a clean slate. IOW, R. Scheinberg is alleged to have given permission for a sex abuser to work with children. I don’t know if this allegation is correct, but R. Broyde is not charged with anything coming close to that.”

    ISTM that the allegations against Kolko in that case were for activity which is similar to those against Finkelstein in the current one. And R’ Broyde’s alleged reaction, that the activity was “not flagrant enough” is similar to what R’ Scheinberg allegedly said.

    I too don’t know if either is true. In the case of R’ Scheinberg, I have no doubt that what he said was taken out of context, at best. That, because if he meant what many people interepret it to mean, then it was completely against the Torah as well as completely idiotic, and it’s inconceivable that a person with that mentality could have had the career that R’ Scheinberg had.

    In the case of R’ Broyde, if I had to put money on it, I would go with R’ Broyde. Though the weird thing is that R’ Bryode said he doesn’t even know who the guy is, while the guy is claiming that they took classes together at YC and worked closely together at BDA – this seems like something that would be possible to verify. If that happens, the odds might change, but meanwhile my best guess is that there was some miscomunication or incorrect recollections at play.

    But that too is not the point. I tend to discount claims about R’ Broyde, but then I tend to discount all claims that people make about things that happened decades ago. There is no way that R’ Broyde can now disprove these accusations, because he can’t pin down that something didn’t happen 12 years ago, but that’s exactly the situation that so many other people are in who R’ Broyde wants to investigate and destroy their lives and those of their families. So I think he’s being inconsistent in this regard.

  50. Jacob Sasson says:

    Elliot,

    I acknowledge what you wrote at the beginning of my comment. The problems in the criminal justice system are well known and need to be addressed. I think we are also in agreement that the on child abuse the state and federal system is doing a good job.

    The problem lies in raising those failures in the context of a discussion on reporting abuse. We have major Jewish organizations urging victims NOT to go to the police. These same people disparage the “goyishe courts” any chance they get. We dont need more voices attacking a system which is doing a good job.

  51. Joseph Kaplan says:

    ” Regardless of what the main point of the article was, R’ Broyde also included a bunch about the accusation against him, and people can comment about that.”

    Of course people can comment on it. I was simply pointing out that IMO the comment was wrong

    “while he himself calls for investigations of others in comparable circumstances.”

    R. Broyde calls reporting a crime to secular authorities and their investigation of that crime. No one has accused R. Broyde of a crime. So the circumstances are not comparable.

  52. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    But the issues involved are the same.

  53. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Jacob Sasson: As others have commented and as you yourself admit, all I was saying was what many legal observers, including judges, have said. But as Elliot Passik has noted, the general weaknesses in the judicial system may not apply to issues of child abuse, which is what R. Broyde was talkng about. So I am sorry if I over generalized. At the same time, I cannot agree with you that one should not raise questions of problems with the legal system if those questions are in danger of being exploited for the wrong purposes. Finally, let me remind you that I began and concluded by saying that I agreed with R. Broyde.

  54. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    Those whose position rests on the notion that the criminal justice system is doing a very bad job in every area besides for child molestation have their work cut out in making the case for this anomalous situation.

    At the very least, they should have just a bit of understanding for an alternative viewpoint which holds that the criminal justice system’s performance WRT child abuse is consistent with its performance elsewhere.

  55. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    FP: Good point. But, alas, one thing is certain: The rabbinical justice system has been doing a terible job!

  56. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    That’s true.

    But the rabbinical system can be improved (WRT the problems as to abuse specifically – it has structural problems that are more intractable).

  57. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    nachum l — i was writing about the civil aspects (damages) of the “current” case. yes, an arbitration agreement is required, but a civil case vs a third party is difficult in a civil court. unless youre just extorting from the third party, in exchange for no publicity.

    having said that, the BDA should be loath to accept the case, as its a lose – lose for them.

    note — no comment on r broyde’s arguments to report to police. but dont report on third parties.

  58. Jacob Sasson says:

    FP:

    “Those whose position rests on the notion that the criminal justice system is doing a very bad job in every area besides for child molestation have their work cut out in making the case for this anomalous situation.”

    Wrong. There are problems with the criminal justice system but it is not doing a VERY BAD job in EVERY area. I dont think Prof. Kaplan would agree with that, either. It is precisely these sorts of conclusions from his comment that I sought to rebut.

    “At the very least, they should have just a bit of understanding for an alternative viewpoint which holds that the criminal justice system’s performance WRT child abuse is consistent with its performance elsewhere.”

    Wrong Again. The existence of problems in the criminal justice system is not enough to indict the system OR, shift the burden to those who believe in reporting abuse. What matters is the nature of the problems and their causes.

    As an anonymous poster, I can not know your level of familiarity with the justice system. I am an attorney and I can tell you that two of the main problems with the system are our current drug policy and race. None of those problems appear in abuse cases. (They may appear tangentially but are not the crux of the problem). The statistics on false convictions do not bear out your contention that the system is a failure on abuse. Cite statistics if you think otherwise. The uncited “opinion of many” is worthless. In fact, abuse is under reported and under convicted.

  59. Nachum says:

    “ISTM that the allegations against Kolko in that case were for activity which is similar to those against Finkelstein in the current one.”

    No, not really.

    I heard a troubling report over Shabbat- that the Forward reporter waited until R’ Lamm was alone at home and basically walked in to get his “money” quotes. Disgusting if true.

  60. Nachum says:

    MMY: OK, so you were talking about civil. I don’t think anyone else is.

  61. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Nachum: I am not defending the reporter, but one would think that a long time President of a University an its current Chancellor would know better than to speak off the cuff to a reporter, particularly pertaining to such a sensitive and potentially explosive issue.

  62. IH says:

    R. Broyde has previously quoted R. Lamm — on a different topic — stating “things have to be done gradually … the passage of time solves many problems”.

    Perhaps R. Lamm decided the time was right and used the interview as an opportunity for an overdue Cheshbon Nefesh, while he is able.

  63. mycroft says:

    “I heard a troubling report over Shabbat- that the Forward reporter waited until R’ Lamm was alone at home and basically walked in to get his “money” quotes. Disgusting if true.”

    I don’t know if true but everyone knows that reporters will do anything to get their quotes-eg if r”l someone loses a child they will right after the levayah the parents questions-we all see results of this approach see eg Casey Anthony where reporters camped out at the home of the grandparents-thus I essentially agree with Prof Kaplan:” I am not defending the reporter, but one would think that a long time President of a University an its current Chancellor would know better than to speak off the cuff to a reporter, particularly pertaining to such a sensitive and potentially explosive issue.”

  64. mycroft says:

    “Perhaps R. Lamm decided the time was right and used the interview as an opportunity for an overdue Cheshbon Nefesh, while he is able. ”

    IH you really believe that?

  65. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “Nachum: I am not defending the reporter, but one would think that a long time President of a University an its current Chancellor would know better than to speak off the cuff to a reporter, particularly pertaining to such a sensitive and potentially explosive issue.”

    Lawrence: I’m sure he would have 10 or even 5 years ago.

  66. Nachum says:

    Joseph beat me to it. Not an 85-year old man, from whom- even from one in the best health- some issues, at least, with remembering things that happened 25 years is to be expected.

  67. mycroft says:

    “Lawrence: I’m sure he would have 10 or even 5 years ago”

    Joseph Kaplan raised the issue which has certainly been discussed orally in Jewish communities-wo discussing R Lamm-I have no inside knowledge-it is no secret that in general mental abilities take at least a gradual decline for many if not most of us decades before we go to the olam haemet.

    ” Not an 85-year old man, from whom- even from one in the best health- some issues, at least, with remembering things that happened 25 years is to be expected.”
    Nachum if the reporters quotes of R Lamm are accurate-he certainly remembers the issue. If accurate do you believe that there were that many charges of sexual molestation against Yeshiva personnel that he wouldn’t have remembered it. It is not as those charges were everyday affairs.

  68. IH says:

    IH you really believe that?

    It seems more plausible to me than Nachum’s “I heard” story. When I last saw R. Lamm interacting at a simcha about a year ago, he seemed himself. I checked with a friend of R. & Mrs. Lamm (someone of their generation) who said that he has had a few incidents of disorientation, but is generally “with it”. Between facing his own mortality and learning that his daughter has lung cancer — I think most of us would be thinking Cheshbon Nefesh.

    It also seems to me that the stories being told are a form of the denial and anger steps of dealing with bad news.

  69. Elliot Pasik says:

    Moderator? IH unnecessarily mentions, about a private person, some information that many would want undisclosed. I don’t know if this information is widely known, or quasi-private, but I personally felt, just by reading it, I was invading someone’s privacy.

  70. IH says:

    Elliot — FTR, it is public information with a call for action: http://yiwh.shulcloud.com/shema-bkola.html (I would never have stated it otherwise).

  71. Hirhurim says:

    I received a mass e-mail about her illness, asking me to pass it around

  72. Elliot Pasik says:

    I will say a mi shebarach for Sara Rivka bat Mindel.

 
 

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