Rabbi to abuse victim: ‘Let it go’

Rabbi to abuse victim: ‘Let it go’

Rabbi Baruch Lesches, above, a senior religious figure within Australian the orthodox Jewish community, told a child sex abuse victim that “the proper, clever thing to do” about the abuse “would be to let it go”.

The victim, identified only as AVB, told the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse about that Lesches also told him that if he spoke up about what had happened to him the lives of staff would be ruined.

According to this report, the conversation took place in 2011 when, as an adult, AVB phoned Lesches to confront him about what he knew about the extent of the abuse that had occurred within the orthodox Yeshivah community.

Lesches told AVB he had confronted a known abuser, former Yeshivah Centre Bondi director Daniel Hayman, about his abuse of children several times, but had never gone to the police.

Lesches told AVB that teachers within the centre often spoke about abusing children, implying that it was widespread and therefore not an issue.

You can hear it from the teachers. They are speaking about how to do it, where to go and which place to go, and when the parents will not know.

Lesches then told AVB that Hayman had told him many of the young boys he abused had agreed to it. The outraged victim responded:

No, what are you talking about? How can a kid that is 12 or 13 years old agree? It doesn’t even come into the imagination.

He said Lesches replied:

You will be surprised.

AVB was brought to tears at several points as he gave his testimony at Melbourne’s county court.

He said he had not been able to mention the abuse to anyone until 1998, when he was an adult, and even then he could only share his story by writing it down.

He was abused when he was 11 years old at the Yeshivah College, Bondi, by Yeshivah Centre Melbourne security guard David Cyprys, who was visiting.

A few years later he was abused by Hayman during a Yeshiva-run camp. Shortly after, AVB’s father had an accident and his parents could no longer care for him, and he moved to Melbourne where he became involved with the Yeshivah Centre there, where Cyprys still worked.

AVB told the commission that even after Hayman was convicted last year of indecently assaulting him and was sentenced to jail, no one from the Yeshivah Bondi had contacted him to apologise.

I feel my soul has been taken away. [Child abuse is] the most violent, destructive thing you can do to a child. You rip away their innocence, then you put them through a court process where they sit there and have to prove something happened to them.

He added:

Bring back my soul by treating me like a person, acknowledging what happened to me was wrong, that failures were made. Give me back what was taken by embracing and accepting – I have done nothing wrong.

He told the commission speaking up was extremely difficult, because within the Yeshivah community talking about sex was taboo and children did not receive sex education.

AVB’s wife gave evidence and described how the orthodox and insular Yeshivah community in Melbourne and Sydney had turned on her family after the abuse became known.

She described how her family had been shunned at the Melbourne Yeshivah Centre, and of malicious blog posts and emails written about her husband that aimed to discredit him. People accused him of breaching mesirah, which prohibits a Jewish person handing over, or informing on, another Jewish person to a secular authority.

It is an accusation that can lead to excommunication from the orthodox Chabad community of which they were a part, the commission heard.

AVB also told the commission that when, in 2011, police asked the Yeshivah Centre, Bondi, for a list of names of all students who attended the school while Hayman worked there, he realised his name and the names of most of his friends had been omitted.

It prompted him to inform his friends and acquaintances in the community of the police investigation via email, because he feared many victims would never otherwise know about the investigation, or how to come forward.

He also included in that email a statement from the Rabbinical Council of Victoria which said:

The prohibitions of mesirah (reporting crimes to the civil authorities) … do not apply in cases of abuse.

AVB said he received a backlash from senior religious leaders after sending the email, and was warned against speaking out further.

The inquiry continues.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn.

10 responses to “Rabbi to abuse victim: ‘Let it go’”

  1. Broga says:

    The victims are of no consequence and are dismissed as human trash. What other construction can be put on this? The abusers are religious, people of faith, and regarded as precious and to be protected to pursue their perversion.

    Ever time I see one of these orthodox Rabbis with their black hats and long beards I feel I am looking into the dark pit of a vanished and grim past which they still inhabit.

  2. Paul says:

    Tell a Jew the same about the Holocaust. Let it go and don’t pursue prosecution, You might riun someone’s career.

  3. Vanity Unfair says:

    I can imagine that in the case of some minor infraction members of a widely persecuted minority group could be unwilling to involve a state power. The results might be either an extreme over-reaction or a total lack of interest. The acceptance of this procedure by injured parties can only be justified if the wrongdoer is brought to trial and reparation made for any proved crime or tort within their own jurisdiction. That would be the necessary consideration for excluding the state.
    This is an allegation of a major crime in Australia. There is no excuse for bullying the powerless on such grounds. The law of the land is what counts. That a Royal Commission is investigating surely shows that the state takes the matter seriously.
    Using internal procedures merely to protect those in authority from the consequences of their actions is a cowardly way to conduct business. What do these people think they are? Roman Catholics?

  4. AgentCormac says:

    The fact that all religions seem to create sexual monsters tells you just how iniquitous their attempts to crush basic human impulses/emotions and thereby control the mind really are. The truly worrying aspect to all this is, of course, just how far those at the top of the food chain will go to try and retain their power. They are sick, immoral and inhuman. So quite why society insists on holding them in such high regard is utterly beyond me.

  5. AgentCormac says:

    OT but somewhat encouraging to learn that 28 religious leaders, including former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams and former Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries have actually called on schools minister, Nick Gibb to reverse the Government’s decision to exclude Humanism from new Religious Studies (RS) GCSEs and preclude similar systematic study from AS and A-levels.

  6. John says:

    The regrettable fact is these people (the abusers) occupy positions of power and their victims (the abused) do not. Lord Acton coined the famous dictum ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’.
    We have seen similar incidents recently in Rotherham, where the entire Council Cabinet membership had to resign due to their failure to protect more than 1,400 vulnerable children from sexual exploitation and abuse.
    Wherever there is power there is a possibility of abuse.
    We must encourage all victims of abuse to come forward and those brave journalists who expose the abusers, whatever their background may be, because – ultimately – these people (the abusers) are criminals and sociopaths.
    Abusers should never be allowed to occupy positions of power and authority.

  7. 1859 says:

    Statistics show that most child abusers are within the family, the extended family and friends of the family. However, religious leaders with their repressed, perverted sexuality are, in my view, more pernicious sexual predators because their abuse is always hidden behind a cloak of moral, religious self-righteousness – which they don’t hesitate to use to shut the mouths of their victims. The Rabbi above is a piece of sexual scum.

  8. Trevor Blake says:

    The proper, clever thing to do about religion would be to let it go. Rabbi Lesches might start by speaking out against grown men mutilating the genitals of infants then sucking blood from the wound.

    Then again who am I, an atheist with no moral compass, to judge. Maybe it is a moral good to mutilate the genitals of infants then suck blood from the wound. Without a belief in G_d how can I know?

  9. Robster says:

    Someone with too much time on their hands should do a check of newspapers going back say twenty years and collate data about positive and negative stories about religions, the religious and the organisations they represent and publish the figures. Apart from the minting of a couple of new popes, there’ll be bugger all in the “positive” column. The “negative” column(s) will bulge. If it’s not child rape it’ll be financial fraud/mismanagement,terrorism,the covering up of crime, money laundering, not saying anything at all that could be construed as the truth, stuffing science, the list goes on. At least there’s one good thing that could come out of the whole religious child rape/cover up story will be the realisation that god/jesus/mo/al belief is indeed a bad and dangerous thing that seems to allow, in fact condone really sick behaviour, but hey we all know that anyway here, judging by the figures most of the population is coming to the same conclusion.

  10. Maggie says:

    Even with public airing of AVB’s story, we atheists still have a long way to go to overcome the idea that WE are the immoral ones.

    “For nearly 40 years, Bengston ( USC professor of gerontology and sociology) has overseen the Longitudinal Study of Generations, which has become the largest study of religion and family life conducted across several generational cohorts in the United States. When Bengston noticed the growth of nonreligious Americans becoming increasingly pronounced, he decided in 2013 to add secular families to his study in an attempt to understand how family life and intergenerational influences play out among the religionless.

    He was surprised by what he found: High levels of family solidarity and emotional closeness between parents and nonreligious youth, and strong ethical standards and moral values that had been clearly articulated as they were imparted to the next generation.”

    He was surprised? Really? I’m not surprised by the lack of moral values in the religious, appalling by the depths of that lack but never surprised.