By Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie (The Age)
April 10, 2014
Police are investigating how a confidential complaint about sex abuse cover-ups at a prominent Melbourne Jewish college was obtained by senior figures associated with the school, resulting in the exposure of the author's identity.
In a major privacy breach, a copy of the 2012 complaint to the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, which included the complainant's name, address and phone number, was last month handed out at a synagogue by a senior Yeshivah Centre figure.
The complainant is understood to have been subjected to harassment within the tight-knit St Kilda community ever since his identity was revealed. In some ultra-orthodox communities reporting a fellow Jew to police or secular authorities is discouraged.
The VRQA, which monitors education providers, has investigated the matter but has been unable to determine how the complaint might have been leaked. A copy of the complaint was also held by the Victorian Institute of Teaching and Victoria Police.
A police spokeswoman said: “Victoria Police can confirm the matter is currently under investigation … It would be inappropriate to provide further details.”
The complainant asked the VRQA to examine the teaching accreditation of Yeshivah College's former principal Rabbi Abraham Glick, due to his failure to report to police allegations of child sexual abuse made against two former school employees, David Kramer and David Cyprys.
Rabbi Glick, who remains an influential figure at the Yeshivah school, was criticised during the prosecution of one of the men by a Melbourne magistrate, who said it was "unfathomable" that Rabbi Glick did not know of the allegations.
Kramer and Cyprys have since been convicted of child sexual abuse and are serving jail sentences.
Tim Marsh, the barrister for one of the convicted men, told Melbourne's County Court last year that once his client's offending became known in the early 1990s, the school's management paid for him to move to Israel, and never reported his conduct to police.
VRQA director Lynn Glover said none of her staff had any contact with Rabbi Glick, the Yeshivah College or its representatives regarding the complaint. “The VRQA is not responsible for the release of a complaint about a Jewish school to senior members of the school,” Ms Glover said.
Ms Glover said the authority referred the complaint about Rabbi Glick to the Victorian Institute for Teaching.
The Victorian Institute of Teaching declined to answer questions about what action it has taken regarding the complaint about Rabbi Glick and the status of his teaching accreditation.
"The institute does not provide public comment in relation to specific matters, including whether it has conducted, or is conducting, an investigation into a registered teacher," a spokeswoman said.
The office of Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay has referred the matter of the leaked complaint to the force's professional standards department.
A copy of the complaint is understood to have been provided to detectives investigating child sexual abuse allegations against former Yeshivah College employees.
Fairfax Media is not suggesting any detectives on the case were responsible for leaking the complaint.
The man named in an email to Commissioner Lay as the person responsible for distributing the VRQA complaint at a St Kilda synagogue last month, Emmanuel Althaus, said “I'm not prepared to discuss anything,” when contacted by Fairfax Media.
“I can't assist you … I don't know what you're talking about,” he said.
Former Yeshivah student and sex abuse victim, Manny Waks, said: “The dissemination of confidential information of this nature would place the writer, who believed the correspondence was strictly confidential, in an extremely invidious position with regard to his standing within the Yeshivah community.”
Mr Waks, founder of sex abuse victims advocacy group Tzedek, said figures at the school who failed to act on child sexual abuse had yet to be held to account.
Rabbi Glick was last year questioned by Victorian detectives over sexual abuse allegations made against him by a former student.
Police decided not to lay charges against Rabbi Glick on the basis there was insufficient evidence to secure a prosecution.
The Victorian government recently announced new legislation to make it a criminal offence to fail to report to police allegations of child sex abuse.
Victoria's anti-corruption commission, the Ombudsman and Privacy Victoria are also considering requests to investigate how the confidential complaint was made public.