JEWISH leaders in Australia have expressed outrage over remarks made about child abuse by a New York rabbi in a taped telephone conversation.
Rabbi Boruch Lesches, a former senior Chabad leader in Sydney, suggested that some of the Jewish victims of alleged child sex abuse in Australia may have consented.
Referring to a period in the 1980s when a man at the Sydney yeshiva (religious college) had abused at least four boys, Lesches – according to this report – admits that he had warned the alleged abuser to stay away from an 11-year year old boy and suggested that the boy may have given his consent to sexual relations.
He goes on to suggest that non-Jewish children (goyim) act and think sexually from the age of five.
Commenting on teenagers from poor backgrounds, he said that as they had no money all they had to think about was sex, 24 hours a day. They had nothing else to do in life, so they were having sex:
In the family, out of the family, boys and girls, girls and boys, dogs, you have no idea what people did.
He goes on to say that victims should keep quiet, and suggested that the alleged yeshiva abuser and the boys were close in age when in fact there was an age gap of at least ten years.
He then said it would be “unproductive” to “open this can of worms” especially as the things done were between people who were “basically the same age”.
The Rabbinical Council of Victoria issued a statement saying it was “appalled” by the comments, which were made during a conversation with an individual familiar with child sex allegations against a man associated with Sydney’s Chabad community in the 1980s.
Said Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, President of the Council:
It is deeply regrettable and shocking that there still do exist some individuals out there on the fringe in the religious leadership world who take positions contrary to the clear-cut contemporary halachic approach on the matter of child sexual abuse.
Manny Waks, a spokesman for Jewish child sex abuse victims, also said the comments were:
Absolutely shocking. Unfortunately this attitude and some of the views are fairly prevalent within the fervently Orthodox community.After so many exposes, surely this is now undeniable.
The rabbi has issued an apology, denying knowledge of the alleged abuse and saying that he regretted making the comments.
Hat tip: Michael Cohen