By Shannon Deery (Herald Sun)
February 5, 2015
A senior Jewish leader placed a 12-year-old girl in the care of a now convicted sex offender despite being told he had abused a string of boys, the royal commission has heard.
The young girl said while she was staying with Daniel “Gug” Hayman he indecently assaulted her and would often walk around totally naked.
She was put in his care after being sent to Sydney to study from interstate by her parents.
“Gug would walk out of the bedroom completely naked. I would be sitting on the couch doing my homework and I would be completely shocked. I had never seen a male naked before,” she said.
For years rumours about Hayman had circulated and a string of boys say they complained to senior Chabad leader Rabbi Boruch Lesches.
He denies any complaints being made to him despite Hayman, who was last year convicted of abusing a 14-year-old boy, telling police Rabbi Lesches had pulled him aside and told him to stop.
When the 12-year-old girl later complained that she had also been abused Rabbi Lesches allegedly said she was imagining it or dreamt it.
It is not known if Lesches, who now lives in New York, will be called to give evidence during the two week hearing probing Melbourne and Bondi Yeshivah Centres.
It is believed the commission, who won’t comment on the matter, are negotiating with him to attend.
His former boss Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, Sydney’s top rabbi since 1968, yesterday said Rabbi Lesches had no obligation to pass on complaints of abuse to him.
But he said he would provide information to Chabad headquarters in New York proving Lesches knew of abuse so action could be taken against him.
“It was only if they felt that they needed my advice or input that they discussed it with me,” he said.
“I believe that if Rabbi Lesches would have been made aware of there being criminal activity, without any doubt he would have brought up the issue.”
Rabbi Feldman said he had always made it clear that complaints of abuse should be passed to police.
But when in 2002 he was told of a complaint, he admitted allowing the alleged offender, a man studying to become a rabbi, to flee overseas just 24 hours later.
“We are not in a position to hold him back,” he said.
“I did not believe and I do not believe at the moment that within the framework of my role I should have to call the police to say this student may leave”
“I did not notify police that he said he may be going. If that was an error of judgment I apologise.”
Rabbi Feldman said if it was established he’d committed a crime police could extradite him.
In a statement read to the commission Rabbi Feldman said he apologised for the pain caused by wrongs of the past.
“I reiterate to the victims that we are deeply sorry that you have suffered abuse and that the Yeshivah Centre in NSW have failed in protecting you,” he said.
“It breaks my heart personally and it breaks all of our hearts.
“We vow to do everything in our power both to protect the children in our care and to support those who have suffered.”