By Michael J. Salamon (Times of Israel)
May 16, 2012
Tonight there will be a rally in Williamsburg, New York to raise funds for the legal defense of a man accused of abusing the women and girls he was supposed to counsel. I am frankly dumbfounded by this gathering. I am not even clear as to the point of this rally other than to raise money. Interestingly the posters advertising the rally suggest that the entire Haredi community is under attack from the outside world. If there is an attack taking place it is only because of behavior like this, behavior that to the outside world, along with many, many insiders looks like the community protects only the abuser and discards the rights and well-being of victims. So, tonight the funds will be raised and the victim will have his day in court paid for by the kehilla and because the courts are in Brooklyn there will be a great deal of suspicion as to how the court will operate because of the reports that the Brooklyn District Attorney is especially lenient to Orthodox Jews and there will be accusations thrown by both sides and the story will go on.
This could have been handled in a more discreet and healthy fashion. Charges made against this man from Williamsburg are among the most serious in that he not only betrayed the trust of those he was supposed to be helping but that he may not have even had the proper education and degree for the job he was performing. I am not privy to this investigation but I know how these investigations should work. Investigating reports of these types of crimes is a responsibility of the police and their highly trained forensic specialists. Other investigative agencies may be involved including Protective Services and State Education and Licensing Departments. By not allowing the case to go forward via the forensic evidence and by further vilifying the young girl who first reported it along with the others who have come forward only makes this case a very public disgrace. This disgrace is further embellished by the public nature of the fund raising that is going on. Here is further evidence that when the community says that it knows how to take care of abusers on its own it is sorely mistaken.
This case is not an attack on a community. It is primarily a case of childhood sexual abuse. Abuse occurs in every community. It is high time our communities accepted this fact. It is also high time that we allow those who are trained and whose job it is to protect us from further abuse do their work. We should not obstruct them. We should encourage and thank them. It is a fact that abusers continue to abuse until they are caught. Once convicted their recidivism rate drops. Excuses like Mesirah and Loshon Hora are just that, excuses to not accept that there is a problem and that it can only be handled by experts.
In the case of Motti Elon the courts in Israel have allowed testimony from two additional victims. There is an absolute need in the orthodox community in the United States to learn from this case. There are usually many victims who must be heard and their abusers who must be punished so that they are removed from any possibility of abusing again.