By Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn (Daas Torah blog)
June 14, 2012
While the Aguda had been very emphatic that a rabbi needs to be consulted before going to the police - the question is why? It isn't likely to be a determination of guilt or innocence since the rabbi typically will not be convening a beis din. An alternative justification is that there is a need for an objective voice to establish whether the evidence rises to a certain level of credibility known as "raglayim l'davar". Most of you are aware that rabbinical training provides no special skills in investigation of crimes or evaluation of psychological states or crimes which are manifestations of a sick mind. In short, he has no forensic training and no psychological training. Thus there is a distinct possibility that the rabbi will not understand the seriousness of the matter. As a minimum a rabbi needs to have mental health and legal professionals available to consult in these types of cases.
An example of why a rabbi untrained in mental health or forensic issues is not the one to consult - no matter how knowledgeable in halacha - is the following composite of incidents that I have heard directly or were reported to me by involved parties. There is no exaggeration for dramatic effect - this is typically how these cases are described.
I met a prominent rav at a bris. In the course of talking he mentioned that he was on his way to a meeting regarding a false accusation by a wife against her husband. She was claiming that her husband had been sexually abusing their 12 year old daughter for 2 years. I asked the rav on what basis had he had already decided that the allegations were false and that the wife was lying? In general I told him I would like to know the criteria he used for evaluating these type of cases.
He answered in a slightly condescending tone that it was obvious that the allegations were not true.
1) First of all he said that he personally knew the man and he was very midakdek in mitzvos and a tremendous talmid chachom who had learned in kollel for 20 years. It was inconceivable that such a tzadik would do something so clearly in violations of the Torah.
2) He said that the circumstances themselves were clearly a basis to question the validity of her claim. The wife said that this wasn't a new behavior but in fact she was aware of his abusing their daughter for two years and she said she had been trying to get him to stop by threatening to expose him. The Rabbi asked me, "What normal wife would wait two years to report such disgusting behavior if it were true?"
3) He said that recently the wife had requested a Get. This is also proof that the charges are not valid because everyone knows that women make up abuse charges as leverage to obtain a get.
4) The agreement of the daughter with the her mother that her father was abusing her - also proved that the charges were false. Everyone knows that the daughter has been acting strangely for the last two years and obviously suffers from depression or some other mental health problem. She obviously also is supporting these charges because her father has been very strict with her level of tznius now that she is getting more mature - and has embarrassed her a number of time regarding this in front of her friends.
5) Finally the rav said the biggest proof that the charges were false were the charges themselves. He said such a horrendous charge can not be accepted as valid. He said, "We all know that there are sick individuals who prey on strange kids. But in this case a normal father was being charged with raping his own daughter. That is just too incredible - there is just no way that a father who is a ben Torah could do such a thing to his own daughter!"