Lawyer Alex Lewenberg apologises for telling Yeshivah sexual abuse victim not to assist police

By Kirsten Veness (ABC Australia)
April 6, 2016

A Melbourne lawyer who represented Yeshivah Centre child sex offender David Cyprys has apologised in court for telling an abuse victim not to assist a police investigation.

Alex Lewenberg, 75, was found guilty of two counts of professional misconduct at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) in March and now faces possible suspension.

In 2011, Mr Lewenberg represented Yeshivah College security guard David Cyprys, who was charged with, and later convicted of, child sex offences.

Mr Lewenberg told one of Cyprys' victims they should not assist the police prosecution of a fellow Jewish person, no matter what the accusation.

During a phone conversation the victim recorded in October 2011, Mr Lewenberg said "I'm disappointed that you would participate, and that was my disappointment and that's why I'm not exactly delighted that another Yid would assist police against an accused, no matter whatever he's accused of".

"That's the reason why I was very disappointed because there is a tradition, if not a religious implement, that you do not assist against Abraham, assisted by Yid and I was concerned about that."

Mr Lewenberg said he did not know the man was one of Cyprys' victims when he made those remarks.

He tendered a written apology to the victim at VCAT, saying he now understood his comments were hurtful and damaging.

He said he acknowledged the part he had played in adding to the hurt and harm the victim suffered.

VCAT heard Mr Lewenberg was receiving counselling to better understand the impact sexual abuse had on the lives of victims.

The lawyer for the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner argued Mr Lewenberg should be disqualified for a long time.

He said Mr Lewenberg had undermined the administration of justice and the tribunal should denounce Mr Lewenberg's conduct.

The judge will make a decision on whether Mr Lewenberg will be suspended from practice later this week.