Rabbi was clueless over sex abuse

Rabbi was clueless over sex abuse

Yosef Feldman, above, the rabbinical administrator of Australia’s Bondi’s orthodox Yeshiva centre, claimed that, more than a decade ago, he did not know that it was illegal for an adult to touch a child’s genitals.

Feldman, giving evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, said this week that the prospect of criminal charges did not cross his mind when he spoke to an alleged abuser in 2002 the day after a young boy’s mother notified Yeshiva College of her son’s allegation against a rabbinical student and teacher’s aide known identified only as “AVL”.

Feldman told the commission he had since changed his mind, but said no one had convinced him of the religious reas­ons why police should be automatically informed.

According to this report, Feldman said at the time he believed the allegation only ­related to “AVL” lying down with the boy and massaging him.

I didn’t know it could have been a crime. I didn’t see that as necessarily being sexual … (but) it could potentially be something which is highly inappropriate. I don’t know what the criminal code is and what’s a crime and what’s not a crime. A lot of things could be a crime (when) I don’t think it is.

Rabbi Feldman said he only learned later that the complaint also involved allegations of genital touching. Asked if he had known it was against the law for an adult to touch a child’s genitals, he replied:

I didn’t know that for a fact.

The Royal Commission heard that “AVL” told Feldman and his father, who leads the Ortho­dox Chabad movement in NSW, the day after the complaint that he might return to the US.

The rabbis replied that they could not stop him leaving, and did not inform authorities of AVL’s possible travel plans.

“AVL” remains overseas, with the Commission learning this week that another Australian rabbi had agreed to ordain as a rabbi on the condition he kept seeing a therapist.

Feldman said “AVL” – who is related to him by marriage – might have wanted to leave the country:

Like any normal person who knows that he’s being reported.

He was fiercely questioned about a series of emails he wrote to other rabbis in 2011 when further abuse allegations involving Yeshivah in Melbourne became public amid a police investigation.

Writing as President of the Rabbinical Council of NSW, Rabbi Feldman argued that Jews with information about child sex-abuse allegations should see a rabbi rather than police. He said in the emails that:

One should just think how he’d react if one’s father­, son or brother was an allege­d molester. Initially one must go to the rov (rabbi), who should firstly invest­igate the veracity of the complaint and, if thought to be serious, warn the culprit.

There was strong disagreement from other rabbis, and the Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria (COSA) issued a statement saying:

COSA unequivocally disassociates itself from the views expressed by Rabbi Yossi Feldman concerning the reporting of sexual offenders to the police.

Outside the hearing, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry said the Royal Commission had exposed the failures of religious leaders who had known about abuse allegations at Yeshiva schools in Sydney and Melbourne and failed to take them seriously.

Although the ultra-Orthodox communities in Sydney and Melbourne constitute only a small fraction of the Jewish community, it is shameful that any Jewish ­institution should have been associated with child abuse and ­attempts to cover it up.

The behaviour of the perpetrators constituted serious crimes under Australian law, for which they are being justly punished, and a grave sin in Judaism.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

10 responses to “Rabbi was clueless over sex abuse”

  1. L.Long says:

    A group that routinely mutilates baby boys and then give them a blow job, does not realize that touching older kids on the genitals is wrong.
    Well it sort of makes sense.

  2. Caute says:

    Religion gives the pious a moral compass that is denied to those of us who cannot believe ? Really? We atheists know what is right and wrong because it is in our nature as rational caring thoughtful people. This man is a sexual deviant, a predator and a bare faced liar… so many other clerics in positions of power and authority.

  3. Broga says:

    And they insist on slitting animals throats and letting them bleed to death. Cameron, devoid of moral back bone supports Halal on “cultural grounds.”

  4. Trevor Blake says:

    Kethoboth 11b: “When a grown-up man has intercourse with a little girl it is nothing, for when the girl is less than three years old it is as if one puts the finger into the eye, tears come to the eye again and again, so does virginity come back to the little girl under three years.”

    Mishnah 5:4 “A girl three years and one day old is betrothed by intercourse. And if a Levir has had intercourse with her, he has acquired her.”

    These Jewish texts condone sex with infants. Religion is disgusting.

  5. barriejohn says:

    More here:

    Rabbi James Kennard, a former executive member of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) and the principal of the largest Jewish school in Melbourne, Australia, issued a public call for top Chabad leadership to resign over their conduct in the wide-ranging Chabad schools child sex abuse scandal that has shaken the Australian Jewish community to its core and shocked Australians country wide.

  6. 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.

  7. Maggie says:

    @Trevor Blake

    Thanks (NOT) for those verses. Just made me feel a little sicker…

  8. Vanity Unfair says:

    “Yosef Feldman… claimed that… he did not know that it was illegal for an adult to touch a child’s genitals.”
    The laws on assault are easy enough to find. Ignorance is (nearly always) no defence.

    “[N]o one had convinced him of the religious reasons why police should be automatically informed.”
    Religion has, and should have, nothing to do with it. It’s an allegation of a serious crime. The police have to be informed. The parents should have done so in the first place.

    And then it gets even worse (from the legal angle) with an admission of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by concealing a crime and enabling a possible criminal to flee the jurisdiction

    Will there be widespread arrests?

  9. […] roles after giving evidence to the Child Abuse Royal Commission. Last week controversial Sydney Rabbi Yosef Feldman stood down from the board of the Yeshiva Centre after sparking widespread criticism of his views on […]