Child abuse royal commission: Jewish victims 'treated like devil' by ultra-Orthodox community

ABC News, Australia/February 4, 2015

By Sarah Farnsworth

Jewish victims of child sexual abuse are being treated like the devil and told they should burn by members of the ultra-Orthodox community, the royal commission has been told.

A man known as AVB gave evidence at a hearing of the Royal Commission in Institutional Responses to Child Abuse in Melbourne on Wednesday.

He was sexually assaulted at the age of 10 by convicted child abusers Daniel Hayman and David Cyrprys in the 1980s, but he remained silent for 20 years.

AVB told the inquiry he had been subjected to ongoing bullying and intimidation at the hands of the Yeshivah community for speaking out.

"There are issues we are still encountering," he said.

"People cannot accept the necessity to address issues and they label the victim as some kind of devil and that they should burn."

He said there remained a culture of cover-up and denial within the ultra-Orthodox Yeshivah community.

"In my experience, powerful relationships, family bonds and blind loyalties with the Yeshivah and broader Jewish community create significant conflicts of interest," AVB told the inquiry.

"That caused organisations and individuals to misuse their purported authority.

"I am here because this all needs to change if you are to create an environment where children are protected and victims and their families will not hesitate in reporting child sexual abuse."

AVB said he had been called a "moser" on blogs posted by members of the Yeshiva community.

It is an offensive term for Jews, describing a person who breaks the rule of Mesirah.

"I was a moser. I had gone against the community and bought it into great shame," he said.

"During the Holocaust, some Jews became the Jewish police and worked on behalf on of the Germans and some would beat the Jews.

"They were considered the low of the low because they were working with the Nazis during that period.

"You can't get lower than a moser."

'Culture of cover-up and denial'

In giving evidence, AVB called for an apology.

"Bring my soul back by treating me like a person, by acknowledging what happened to me was wrong," he said.

He recalled the sexual assault at the hands of Hayman while attending a bush camp at Bondi, in Sydney.

"It was forceful and aggressive and I remember thinking about the cliff that was nearby and that I wanted to die," he said.

"I was very angry and couldn't understand what was happening and why it was happening.

"Hayman was popular and friends with everybody; he was an integral part of the Yeshivah community. I was nothing."

He told the commission Hayman later told him he had been spoken to about his offending against other boys, prior to him abusing AVB.

"It's soul-destroying," AVB said.

Leaders disagreed about reporting abuse

A senior rabbi has told the hearing anyone reporting child abuse within Yeshivah community should be considered a hero.

Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, the former president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, said when the abuse allegations became public, there were disagreements among the Jewish leaders about reporting child abuse to police.

"Those who do so should be considered heroes and should have the full support of every member in the community," he said.

Rabbi Gutnick said some rabbis believed they should decide if allegations were credible before going to police.

"No rabbi that I am aware of is competent to make that decision," he said.

He said the organisation had reiterated there was a religious obligation to report abuse.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos