Rabbi Shmuel Goldin - president of the RCA - clarifies the RCA-Rav Belsky joint statement on child abuse.

Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn (Daas Torah blog)
June 10, 2013

This is the response I just received from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin (president of the RCA) to my letter regarding the joint RCA-Rav Belsky statement on the RCA website. He gave me permission to report his views.

I wrote to Rabbi Goldin:

I have been involved for a number of years dealing with various aspects of child abuse and have published three seforim dealing with the subject under the guidance and encouragement of Rav Moshe Sternbuch shlita. One of the most problematic issues is that of mesira and one of the most troubling cases is that of the recent Yosef Kolko case. Even more troubling is the reported actions of Rav Yisroel Belsky shlita - especially when they seem to be contrary to the stated position of the RCA.

I just wrote a post on my blog Daas Torah regarding Rav Yisoel Belsky's views on reporting child abuse to the police. http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2013/06/rav-yisroel-belsky-why-contrary-to.html

I respectfully request an explanation of how Rav Belsky's actions in this case are consistent with the accepted halacha regarding mesira as well as the RCA guidelines in reporting child abuse to the police?

kol tuv,

Daniel Eidensohn Ph.D.

Rabbi Goldin responded:

Dear Dr. Eidensohn,

Thank you for your e-mail and for your continuing work in this important area.

Just to clarify a couple of points:

1. The letter we received from Rabbi Belsky clearly indicates that that an individual with credible suspicions of abuse should go directly to the authorities,

2. Concerning the Kolko case, Rabbi Belsky made it clear, based upon his involvement in the case, that he believes the defendant to be innocent of the charges and that the accusers are actually the guilty parties. He is convinced of this position, in spite of what seems to be overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

3. The problems you raise in your blog are complex. For those of us whose vision of Das Torah is not as encompassing as those who express, it is easier to carve out areas of expertise where we believe that outside experts, rather than halachic experts, might serve as more accurate sources of fact. In such areas-we can accept the possibility of 'error' even on the part of great sages.

Shmuel Goldin

I responded with the following:

Thank you for your thoughtful and cogent reply. You have confirmed my suspicions that Rav Belsky is not actually in agreement with RCA policy in this area. The father of the victim should not have been labeled a moser for doing what he thought was right - especially since Rav Sternbuch gave him written permission. In addition if Rav Belsky "knew that the father was the molester" he had an obligation according to his own words - to report him to the police - which he obviously failed to do. This strongly implies that Rav Belsky is committed to the position of the Aguda that only a rabbi can decide whether you can go to the police and that it is typically better to deal with these cases within the community and not go to the police even when it is definitely a case of abuse. This is clearly a violation of the RCA principles. From what I have heard Rav Belsky is severely undermining the credibility of the RCA and their perceived commitment to help the victims of child abuse.

Do I have your permission to report your view on the matter using your name on my blog?

Daniel Eidensohn

Rabbi Goldin responded:

I need to be clearer.

Rabbi Belsky did not accuse the father of abuse-but rather of rishus. He claims that the allegations were trumped up and that Kolko was framed and forced to accept a plea deal.

[Hebrew Text of Rav Belsky's letter] [English translation]

You certainly can quote my positions as stated.

I am aware of the communities concerns and we are trying to determine what else we can do