By Shannon Deery (Herald Sun)
April 10, 2013
Some of Melbourne's most senior Jewish officials have been visiting a convicted paedophile in prison to try to persuade him to plead guilty to new sex charges, it has been alleged.
The visits are said to be part of their efforts to cover up a worsening sex abuse scandal, it is claimed.
Sources have told the Herald Sun that at least two leading members of a school where the man once taught were involved in trying to persuade him to change his plea, after he had indicated he would contest the charges.
It is believed the school leaders fear being called to give evidence at a trial, as a result of allegations that they shipped the accused out of Australia in 1993 after several parents at the school made complaints against him.
The man was later jailed overseas, after being convicted of several assaults against students there.
It is believed that the leaders are also concerned that the accused could implicate a number of other prominent figures.
One prominent community figure has allegedly raised concerns that if the matter proceeded to trial, then senior figures of the tight-knit Jewish community "would turn on each other."
The accused man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, faces charges of indecent assault of several students from his time at the college in the 1990s.
Manny Waks, the founder and CEO of Tzedek, an advocacy group for Jew ish victims, said the allegations highlighted a worsening trend of intimidation by Jewish leaders.
"This allegation does not surprise me at all. It is consistent with (the school's) modus operandi of behaving immorally," he said.
"There have been been investigations for discrimination and intimidation.
"The leadership has a great deal to answer for and should be held accountable for the way they have behaved, and for bringing the entire Jewish community into disrepute."
The Herald Sun revealed victims of child sexual abuse in Melbourne's Jewish community were being ordered by religious leaders not to report incidents to police.
Sources inside Melbourne's ultra-Orthodox Chabad community claimed it had banded together to cover up sexual abuse cases.
Some leaders were accused of intimidating victims, their families and supporters and of threatening to expel them from the community.
It was revealed that one of the community's most senior figures had categorically warned at least one victim he could not report allegations of abuse to police.
The senior rabbi, who was a leader in education within the Australian Chabad movement, said doing so would ruin the alleged perpetrator's life and would amount to a "grave sin" under Jewish law.