By Adam Cooper (The Age)
July 17, 2013
A lawyer representing a teacher who has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing students more than 20 years ago has told a court that Melbourne's Yeshivah College covered up the scandal rather than contact police.
And even after David Kramer admitted to abusing one victim, the school's then principal told the victim's father that the teacher would not be suspended because of concerns for his wellbeing, the County Court was told.
Kramer, a primary school teacher at Yeshivah College between 1989 and 1992 and known to his pupils as "Rabbi Kramer" although not ordained, has pleaded guilty to five charges of sexually abusing four 10-year-old boys in 1990 and 1991, and one charge of committing an indecent act with a child.
Kramer, 52, was extradited last year from the US, where he served 4 years in jail for sodomising a 12-year-old boy in a St Louis synagogue.
Although a citizen of both the US and Israel, he is believed to be the first Jewish community leader in Australia to plead guilty to charges of sexually abusing children. He will be sentenced next Wednesday.
During his plea hearing, the court heard that in 1992, once Kramer's offending became known, the management of Yeshivah College offered to pay for the teacher's passage to Israel if he left immediately. He did and police were never contacted.
The court also heard that Kramer was reported to NSW police in 1996, but no investigation occurred.
Barrister Tim Marsh, representing Kramer, described as "the elephant in the room" the question as to why the St Kilda East school, part of the wider Yeshivah Centre, never addressed the abuse.
"There could have been an investigation, there should have been an investigation, but instead there was a cover-up," Mr Marsh said.
Prosecutor Brett Sonnet earlier told the court that the school's then-principal, Rabbi Abraham Glick, told the father of one of the victims that Kramer would not be suspended.
Kramer was only removed and then dismissed when outraged parents campaigned outside the teacher's home, Mr Sonnet said.
Outside court, victims advocate Manny Waks described as "absolutely astounding" the revelation Rabbi Glick appeared to care more "for the wellbeing of the perpetrator" than the victims.
Yeshivah College last year apologised "unreservedly" to students who were molested.
But Mr Waks said the position of Rabbi Glick – who still works at the school, as the head of Jewish studies and in student welfare – was untenable, and that the Yeshivah Centre should be held to account.
"There is undeniable evidence that Yeshivah was directly responsible for allowing this perpetrator to go overseas, ultimately going on to reoffend," he said.
"Having spoken with a representative of the family of the victim in the US, they highlight the fact that, from their perspective, Yeshivah has got blood on its hands.
"What Kramer did to the their child is essentially the responsibility of Yeshivah, because had they taken action all those years ago, in all likelihood this would not have occurred."
The court heard Kramer touched the boys' genitals over their pants or by putting his hand in their pockets, and told one victim not to tell anyone.
In a statement read to court, one victim said the abuse had shattered his confidence and that in hindsight he had lived an angry childhood.
Judge Michael Bourke said the abuse was at the lower end of sexual offending, but the same could not be said for exploitation.
"These young boys faced the situation where a respected teacher was doing this to them ... their situation and their capacity to do anything to protect themselves was pretty badly inhibited," he said.
Mr Marsh said Kramer was remorseful and felt isolated as he was in protective custody and had no relatives in Australia. He divorced his wife in 2000 and no longer had any contact with some of his 11 children, he said.
But Mr Sonnet said the prosecution doubted Kramer's remorse, as he had fought the extradition bid, and was an "obvious risk" of re-offending as he had expressed deviant thoughts since.
Mr Sonnet called for a maximum jail term of between four and five years. Kramer was remanded in custody.