By Rachel Kleinman (The Age)
November 25, 2014
The Melbourne Orthodox Jewish school at the centre of a child sexual abuse scandal will become the focus of a royal commission hearing early next year.
Fairfax Media has learned that Yeshivah College's handling of the scandal, including an alleged cover-up, will be probed in a hearing scheduled for up to two-weeks in Melbourne in February.
Further painful revelations about the cases of historical abuse at Yeshivah are likely and senior members of the Jewish orthodox community will be called to give evidence, as will victims of sexual abuse.
In 2013, David Kramer, a former teacher at Yeshivah College, Melbourne, was jailed after pleading guilty to molesting four students between 1989 and 1992. Fairfax Media has also learned that Kramer was deported from Australia on September 29. Kramer holds both US and Israeli passports – it is not known which country he was deported to.
Following a separate court case, David Samuel Cyprys, a former school employee, was jailed for raping a 15-year-old boy in 1991 and sexually abusing eight other boys.
Yeshivah College is Melbourne's biggest Chabad (Orthodox) affiliated school. Revelations of sexual abuse by school employees against students first came to wider public attention when in 2011 former student Manny Waks told Fairfax Media he was abused there.
The $500 million Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began last year and more than 20 case studies have been examined so far, involving institutions such as the Salvation Army, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and Swimming Australia. Private hearings have also taken place around the country, giving abuse survivors an opportunity to tell their stories.
The royal commission will hand down its final report in December 2017.
Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, Australia's most senior rabbi, says he hopes the commission will help the community move forward.
"The stain of child sexual abuse and what's gone in our community is highly amplified by the fact that we are a small community and we take everything very personally. I'm hoping we can achieve closure, so we can finally put the lid on this terrible situation and learn from it," Kluwgant said.
Manny Waks, who was abused as a Yeshivah student, wanted individuals held to account. "I hope that the truth will be exposed. Hopefully the broader Australian public, the Jewish community and the Yeshivah community will have a better understanding of what has transpired over the years," Waks said.
A royal commission spokeswoman declined to comment. Public hearings were only announced about four weeks in advance, she said.
Waks, along with several other claimants, has initiated civil action, suing the Yeshivah centre and 12 other defendants for negligence. Waks says this action is "on hold" for now.