British Haredi Leader Caught On Video Telling Alleged Child Sex Abuse Victim That It Is Forbidden To Report The Crime To Police

Shmarya Rosenberg (
January 24, 2013

Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, head rabbi of the of the London-based haredi umbrella organization the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, commonly known as Kedassia, was reportedly surreptitiously recorded by a victim of alleged child sexual abuse telling the victim not to report his abuser to police because doing so would be mesirah, informing – a serious violation of Jewish law punishable in some cases with death.

The victim made the video recording as part of Channel 4’s documentary on Haredi child sexual abuse that will air next Wednesday.

In the undercover video the victim reportedly tells Padwa, “Someone who you may know of…sexually abused me when I was younger, when I was a child.” The victim then asks Padwa what he should do about it.

“We are dealing with this,” Padwa responds.

The alleged victim asks whether he should go to the police.

“Oh no,” Padwa replies. Telling police about the sexual abuse would be “mesira.” Padwa then reportedly admonishes the victim, saying in Yiddish, “People mustn’t tell tales.”

The alleged victim asks Padwa if he can be certain that the alleged pedophile isn’t sexually abusing more children.

“The police also cannot assure. The police is not the solution,” Padwa says.

The alleged victim asks what he should do if police find out about the abuse independently.

“Let’s hope it wouldn’t happen,” Padwa says. He then adds, “You shouldn’t do anything that can lead to the police,” the Times of Israel reports.

Channel 4’s documentary will air Wednesday as a special edition of the its Dispatches series. The documentary reportedly highlights 19 alleged cases of child sexual abuse in UK haredi communities. None of those cases have been reported to police because the victims and their families fear they will be persecuted by the haredi community if they do involve police.

When confronted about the contents of the undercover video, a spokesman for Padwa said the alleged victim’s allegations had already been dismissed as “malicious” by UK social services. Padwa’s remarks about avoiding the police were made with that in mind, he claimed.

Minutes of a March 2005 meeting run by UK social services in Hackney, London, and seen by the Times of Israel reportedly document the complaint against an unnamed teacher in a haredi school. The alleged victim claimed to be concerned that his nephew, then a student in that school, “could be subject to the same abuse.” The teacher allegedly offered his former student money “to shut the young person up,” the social services document notes.

The teacher claimed he had not offered the money. Instead, he insisted that the alleged victim had tried to extort him.

Social services accepted the teacher’s version of events, and declined to take further action.

Kedassia will reportedly issue a statement to rabbis and educators tonight or tomorrow announcing the establishment of an internal committee that will work to deal with allegations of abuse in partnership with Kedassia’s beit din, religious court.

According to the Times of Israel, that internal Kedassia committee “is expected to include experts trained in child protection” and will act “in accordance with secular law.”

However, the Times of Israel does not name those experts and their qualifications as experts are not enumerated.

The Times of Israel also does not explain how a rabbinic committee that screens abuse cases and decides which cases, if any, may be reported to police or social services could possibly be acting “in accordance with secular law.”

Indeed, Kedassia’s expected statement reportedly does not tell haredim who suspect a child has been sexually abused to call police or social services.

Instead, the suspected crime is to be reported directly to Kedassia, even though the statement reportedly does acknowledge that there are certain unspecified circumstances where it would be correct to report a pedophile to police or social services.

Kedassia allegedly has a decades long history of covering up child sexual abuse allegations.